Chapter 1: one
She was met with a door in her face. For months now she was greeted with the same phrase from George King, owner of Mermaid Lagoon, and a door slammed in her face. It didn’t stop her though. She kept trying each week despite him telling her that, “The mermaids are fine and if they really didn’t want to be here, they wouldn’t have gotten hurt or caught.” That statement didn’t infuriate her any less than the first time she heard it.
Peggy Atwell had a degree in mermaid biology. Yes, it’s a thing, it’s a further concentration in marine biology. She always dreamed of working with a team doing research and helping the half human creatures of the sea but with each marine biologist she reached out to, she always received some elitist answer claiming that they wouldn’t work with someone who believed in fantasy. Mermaids were in fact real and despite the hundreds that have been captured or taken under the pretenses of rehabilitation for entertainment, marine biologist who had been with the science for a long time still didn’t believe in them.
For as long as she could remember, Peggy was intrigued by the ocean and by mermaids. Her mother, Naomi, said that it was because water ran through her veins instead of blood. To an extent that was true. Peggy’s blood never turned red like human’s did when it hit the air. It remained blue. When Peggy asked her mother about it after discovering that other people’s blood was red, Naomi told her it was because water ran through her veins and that reasoning always stuck until Peggy really began her studies into mermaid biology and culture.
Naomi had done everything she could to keep Peggy away from knowing the truth. When she had taken the baby girl in she had made a promise to the parents of her daughter that she would protect her as much as she could. She even went all the way to get a mermaid biologist to help Peggy when she became ill. So Naomi had to lie at least a little. When Peggy started her studies questions began to come up. To keep her promise, Naomi told Peggy that her father had been a mermaid and that’s why she had some traits.
Peggy believed her mother but what she was told was the furthest thing from the truth. Peggy Atwell was actually a part of a well known family in the mermaid world located in the Atlantic. Her real name was Peggy Schuyler and her mother and father left Peggy with Naomi a few days after Peggy was born. The Schuyler’s were afraid for their youngest since they were running from a couple of catchers from Mermaid Lagoon. The mermaid couple came across Naomi’s sailboat and left Peggy with her so they could get back to their other two daughters.
Despite having to keep her mermaid traits a secret, she had a happy life and was now working at the one place that all mermaid activists hated, Mermaid Lagoon. While she was in college she interned with the rehab facility there and when no one else would take her, she was welcomed back with open arms. This time she wasn’t just apart of the rehabilitation team, she also served as a trainer for some of the exhibits. She hated how other trainers treated their merfolk but the ones she worked with always reassured her that she made their stay there worth while.
“Another rejection?” Hercules Mulligan, one of the custodians and overall handy man of the park asked Peggy as she marched by him.
She huffed before letting out a small growl in frustration. She turned on her heel to face one of the only coworkers she could say she was friends with. “I just don’t get it Herc! I have given him evidence that these pools are just way too small for them. There are some mers that have tail deformities because they’ve been here so long and their pools aren’t big enough.”
“He’s not gonna listen to you unless the money starts talking, you know this but good for you to sticking to your beliefs. Just don’t go getting fired, huh? There’s some people around here that would not be too happy to see you gone.” He reached out and gave her arm a squeeze. Hercules really liked Peggy and the merfolk he talked to about her had nothing but good things to say. He was quite serious about her not getting fired. He needed to make sure that things stayed on track and Peggy no longer being here was not a part of the plan.
Peggy sighed and nodded. “Yeah, you’re right. I guess I’ll let it be for now. I’m starting to sound like a broken record anyway.” She patted his hand with a small smile. “I’m gonna go check on Johnny Boy so I’ll see ya around. Try not to have fun without me.” She pointed at him as she backed away.
Hercules laughed and rolled his eyes. “Because I could have so much fun without you here.”
She laughed as she turned back around to head towards the rehab facility. Mermaid Lagoon was part zoo, part amusement park. Dispersed between the different tanks were roller coasters and other thrill rides that the park’s visitors could ride. At certain times there were feedings, entertainment shows that included tricks, and educational tours. So at each tank there was plenty of standing room and a small seating area. If it was a special show then the mers were transported from their usual tank to the main pool that was in the middle of the park. Seating was set up like an amphitheatre and the seats closest to the pool were labeled the splash zone.
When Peggy wasn’t out in the main part of the park she was back in the rehab facility. The rehab was its own building near the front of the park, off to the side. This is where donations were asked for despite the outlandish ticket prices. The building was basically a large warehouse that had three rows of tanks and a larger pool so that the mers could swim laps and do other exercises that could help get their strength back. Suspended above the tanks were walkways so that the biologists could walk around above the tanks so they could talk with the mers they were helping recover from various injuries. This walkway and even the floor of the rehab had special employee only entrances. The visitor entrance lead to a loft type space where visitors could look down below to watch as employees worked with the mers. In the visitor space there were posters and other interactive screens that told them what was happening down below. The only time visitors were allowed on the suspended walkways was if they were apart of an educational tour.
As soon as John saw Peggy along the walkway he swam up to the top of his tank, crossing his arms over its edge as he waited for her to get closer. He hated being trapped here but Peggy always made it better. It was probably because she unknowingly reminded him of home. She waved at him when she saw him pop up, remembering the day that John was brought into the facility. That day was forever seared into her brain. She had been so scared for him, as she was with every boating accident she worked on.
She was working with another mermaid on tail exercises when Theo, another woman that Peggy worked with in rehab came rushing down the floor screaming Peggy’s name. Peggy hopped down from the platform on the pool but before she could even get a word in, Theo was dragging her down the row towards the direction of the small medical bay they had in the far back corner of the building. This was where they examined each mermaid that came in or if one of their performers fell sick. “Male, looks to be about in his twenties if we were going with human age, boat hit his tail, it’s bad.” Theo stated as she pushed Peggy towards the room where she could get into scrubs instead of her wetsuit.
“Are they trying to stop the bleeding? I need to know vitals and need to have all surgery utensils prepped. We need to keep his tail wet, if he starts to transition that is not going to bode well for him, at all.” Peggy started to give out orders. She was the youngest member of the rehab team and yet when the original lead doctor retired, he had given the position to Peggy. She had shadowed under him and knew all of the procedures they did on the regular like the back of her own hand. There were some people that doubted the doctor’s decision but after watching her work her first emergency surgery, those doubts were quickly erased.
Once she was in her scrubs, Peggy ran to the procedure table. Wet towels were laid underneath him while the team was trying to get him to stop fighting them. “You haven’t sedated him yet?!” Peggy cried, rushing to his side. Theo prepared the anesthesia and waited for Peggy’s order. “Hello, my name’s Peggy and my friend Theo will be giving you some medicine so I can get you all patched up okay? Is that okay?” She had cupped his face and was looking directly at him, trying to get him to calm down.
His eyes had widened when he saw her face. He couldn’t believe that Peggy Schuyler was here, that he was talking to Peggy Schuyler. He had come up to the surface with Angelica and Eliza once when they were trying to find their long, lost sister. They had found her sitting on a sandbar in a secluded part of the beach. The sisters had asked him to draw a picture of her for them and he happily obliged. She didn’t look sad this time. She looked scared but determined. He nodded his head, figuring he would be in good hands if he was in the presence of a Schuyler sister. The last thing he saw before everything went black was Peggy looking over to whom he assumed was Theo.
Peggy jumped into action as soon as his eyes closed. She focused on his tail first, made sure nothing was severely broken before focusing on the bigger cuts along his tail. She performed something similar to a skin graft for the larger cuts and then did a basic stitching for the smaller cuts. The procedure took hours and when she was done they put him in a shallow pool until he woke back up.
The healing process was long but two months had passed and he was showing great progress. The smaller cuts were all healed but the larger cuts were still healing and they were working on getting his tail strength back as well as learning how to swim again with the tears in his tailfin. “Rejected again, huh?” John asked once Peggy had reached his tank.
She sighed and nodded her head. “Herc thinks I should pause my efforts for the time being. Doesn’t want to see me fired.” She rested her arms on the railing of the walkway so she could be at about the same height as John was.
“Well, yeah, there would be a lot of mers not happy if you were suddenly gone.” He agreed with a nod. “Me included.”
Peggy smiled, reaching out to give his arm a reassuring squeeze. “I can’t go making you unhappy now can I? Guess that means I’ll actually listen.” She teased him as she pushed herself from the railing. “How we getting to the pool today? Do I need to get the cart or are you gonna swim?”
“I’m gonna give swimming a go. Just don’t start to freak out if I take a long time. My stamina’s not what it used to be.” John answered her with a small smile.
“We’ll get you there, now get going. I’ll meet you over there.” Peggy waved him off as she turned on the walkway and headed down to the pool. As she walked down the steps to the main floor, she looked up to the viewing area to see if she and John were about to have an audience in his therapy session today. He seemed to always want to try and show off when that happened. There were kids pressed up against the glass with older kids and parents standing back so the younger kids could see what was going on. Peggy gave a smile and a wave before she hit the main floor.
There was a small platform that was attached to the side of the pool where most of the trainers usually worked from. They were able to jump into the pool from the platform if needed. Peggy climbed the ladder up to the platform just as John swam into the pool. He came up for air and swam towards the platform, pulling himself up on it. His chest was heaving as he tried to catch his breath. Peggy sat down next to him, toes barely skimming the water. “What happened to taking it easy on the way over?”
“I thought I would be fine but that was a bad thought.” He panted, gripping the edge of the platform.
She rubbed his back and walked him through some breathing exercises until he recovered from his little excursion. She really did hate when she had an audience for her training session with John. “Ready for some exercises?”
John nodded and brought his tail up to the platform, laying down on his back. Peggy did the same thing, lifting her legs in the air, keeping them together and angling her feet out so it would look like a mermaid tail. “We just need to get you a tail already. Those fake ones you humans wear are not the most ideal but I would make an exception for you.” John told her, chuckling a bit.
Peggy laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind when I go through the gift shop again but for now this is what you’re stuck with so c’mon, tail up.” They worked through different exercises before they both lowered themselves into the pool. This was one reason why the mers kept in the rehab liked when they got to work with Peggy. She did all of the exercises with them until she felt like she could just sit back and watch to make sure they were doing things properly. She had talked Theo into doing the same thing but she just showed them what she wanted them to do before she sat back and watched. The others stayed on the platform and practically barked orders.
“You did so great today.” Peggy said as she pulled herself up onto the platform.
“Thanks.” He smiled as he floated on his back around the pool.
Peggy shook her head as she wrung out the water from her ponytail. “Can I trust you to get back to your tank okay? I’d like to check on Angelica and Eliza before I leave today.”
John nodded and went to treading water. “Tell the Schuyler’s I said hello and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You got it.” She waved before climbing down. She grabbed a towel from the table sitting next to the pool and continued drying off as best she could as she made her way back outside to the park. She tossed the towel towards the dirty linen hamper as she passed it and poked her head into Theo’s office. “I’m checking on the Schuyler’s and then I’m headed home. You good?”
Theo looked up from the paperwork she was doing. “Yeah. Just catching up on some stuff before heading out myself. I’ll see ya tomorrow.” She smiled up at her friend.
“See ya later then!” Peggy said with a wave as she continued on her way.
The exhibits were decent sized she supposed even if she fought to make them bigger. There really wasn’t much room to swim as mers were used to. They were about two olympic sized pools long and attached to the main pool was a smaller one where the mers could go into. It was a den like area much like with zoo exhibits there’s always a place for the animals to go inside.
Peggy entered the Schuyler’s exhibit through the employee entrance near the back. She pressed the button along the wall that would ring a bell and flash a light in the pool to let them know that she was here. She walked to the edge of where the smaller pool was and sat down, dipping her feet into the water. She didn’t have to wait long before Angelica and Eliza popped up, pushing their hair back out of their faces. “Peggy!” They exclaimed as they swam closer to her. The two older Schuyler’s hated that they had to get to know their baby sister this way but were just happy that they were able to get to know her.
“Hey guys!” She smiled, bending down enough so that she could give them each a hug as best she could. “John also says hello and I still very much got a door closed in my face.” She updated them on all that essentially happened since the last time they talked that day.
“You’ll get him next week.” Angelica smiled, encouraging her little sister to keep fighting for what she believed in.
“That’s the thing. I ran into Herc right after and I think I’m gonna press pause on trying to talk with King. I don’t want to lose my job.” Peggy explained, nervous about the sisters’ response.
Angelica looked disappointed but before she could say anything, Eliza spoke up. Angelica was stubborn and wanted to keep the fight going until the change was made. Eliza knew though that sometimes the best strategy is to wait until the perfect moment arrived for an attack. Besides if Peggy lost her job here then future plans could be ruined. “We don’t want you to lose your job either. We’ve gotta put away the,” she paused momentarily to try and think of the name. It wasn’t coming to her so she continued on, explaining what she was thinking of. “The game that has the red and black pieces and play the game that has the knights but is played on the same board.”
“Checkers and chess?” Peggy asked for clarification.
Eliza’s eyes lit up. “Yes! That’s the one. We’ve gotta put away the checkers and starting playing chess.” She nodded confidently, giving Peggy a reassuring smile.
“Thanks, Liza.” Peggy returned the smile. “I’m certainly going to try. I’m not very good at chess.” She laughed, pulling her feet out of the water. “Is there anything you two need before I head home?”
“Nope, we’re good.” Angelica said with a wave.
“We’ll see you in the morning. Sleep well, Peggy.” Eliza smiled, waving as she watched her younger sister leave. She then turned to Angelica. “Are you sure we can’t just tell her? I want to be able to really talk to my sister.”
Angelica sighed. “I know, Lizzy. I do too but you know what Herc told us.”
“Yeah, I know. Still doesn’t mean that I like it.” Eliza sighed and dove back under the water.
Chapter 2: two
AN: I am so sorry that I've not kept my promise about the frequent updates. I hope with this one I'll be able to get back on track. These chapters are a lot longer than my usual stories so it's taking me longer to crank them out. I hope you like it so far. I can't wait to hear what you think. Much love!
She was glad to be out of her wet suit and in her normal beach attire, feeling the sand between her toes. The noise of tourists and the city just a low hum in the background as she ventured out on her usual sandbar. There was a warning sign at the entrance of the area that kept people away and if any authority figure came by, she just flashed her rehab badge and claimed to be doing research. Her hair was out of the ponytail she usually kept it in while she was at work. Her curls were a wild mess splayed around her like a lion's mane. She noticed a figure sitting on the shore where the tide met the sand and grinned. She would recognize those curls tied up anywhere among other things but she wasn't going to focus on his arms or his back or any of the other attractive features he had.
Peggy ran down and plopped right next to the merman. They had met the day after she had taken care of John and had grown to be good friends in the two months that they had known each other.
"Mon ami!" He exclaimed as he wrapped his arms around her. He knew that it was Peggy by her wave toe ring and sunflower ankle bracelet tattoo.
She laughed at how thrilled he seemed to be to see her. Peggy easily returned the hug despite the semi awkward side angle. "Bonjour, Lafayette!" She greeted in return, kissing each of his cheeks.
"How was our good friend George?" He asked her, moving so he could sit facing her.
Peggy sighed as she rolled her eyes. "The same as always, caring more about the pretty penny he's making instead of the lives that he's ruling." She shook her head. "I'm going to be taking a break. I don't want to lose my job and I'm nervous that's going to be the next step if I keep asking. I can't leave John or the Schuylers or any of the other mers under my care for that matter to some of the people that work there."
Lafayette nodded as he reached out a hand, giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "You will get through to him eventually. You will make a difference there, I just know it."
"Thank you." Peggy smiled before standing up. "C'mon, let's go float." She took off her cover up, revealing the yellow bikini she wore underneath before she began to wade out into the water.
Lafayette scooted closer to the tide line before manipulating the water around him so that he could more easily swim out to where Peggy was now letting the waves rock her. He began to float next to her before reaching out and taking her hand. He would be a horrible protector if he let her float too far out into the open waters.
After John was taken, Washington had sent Lafayette to look after Peggy. This meant that he and Hercules changed up how they communicated information about the movement happening. The mer folk were done with being treated the way they were by King's company. They were not to be used simply for entertainment purposes. They were meant to cohabit this planet as they had been doing until the humans discovered them. Since Peggy was one of them, Washington had promised Philip Schuyler that his youngest daughter would not be harmed, especially since it seemed like the start of the movement seemed to be coming closer and closer.
Lafayette smiled, thinking of the first day he met her. Hercules had told him the night before that she was a force of nature and that she actually was going to King to try and get him to see that changes needed to be made. He remembered feeling this sense of pride despite only hearing stories about the youngest Schuyler sister.
Hercules had been right. They met at the same sandbar where they now met everyday after her shift at Mermaid Lagoon. She was pacing, tugging at her hair, and yelling at nothing. She had thought after the John situation, King would change his mind but she found out something much worse, it was a Mermaid Lagoon boat that had hit her newest mer under her care. She huffed and stared up at the sky for a moment before wading into the water. A nice swim would clear her head.
Lafayette had been watching her from afar for a bit, just his eyes out of the water, when he decided to finally approach her. As she was swimming out, he popped up right in front of her. She splashed him, pushing herself backwards as she stood up out of the water even if it still lapped at her hips. "What the fuck?!" She yelled.
He shook his head a bit to get rid of the excess water that was now dripping from his face from her attack. He couldn't help but to laugh. "Pardon me, mademoiselle. I didn't mean to frighten you. I was not watching where I was swimming." Lafayette finally said when he realized that she was not laughing with him.
"Well, you have a weird way of showing it." She replied, crossing her arms across her chest. His hair was pulled back with a piece of seaweed. Despite it being fresh out of the water, she could tell that his hair would be extremely curly if it was dry. Where swim trunks would be sitting on his hips, purple scales could be seen. She was doing her best not to notice other features like how fit he seemed to be or how when he laughed his whole face lit up causing his eyes to crinkle at the sides. She was talking with a merman and she wasn't at work. Why was she so surprised by this? She knew merfolk existed. It was probably because he was really attractive and she couldn't really think straight.
"Then it seems like we need to have a do over." He stuck out his hand and gave her a smile. "Bonjour, I'm Gilbert Lafayette but everyone just calls me Lafayette."
Peggy stared at him for a moment before she slowly took his hand and gave it a firm shake. "I'm Peggy Atwell. It's nice to meet you Lafayette." She returned her hand to her side and lowered herself back into the water. "If you don't mind just floating, you're welcome to join me." She offered, moving to lay on her back. Might as well use work normalities to make sure she doesn't make a fool of herself.
There was a tug on his hand, bringing him out of going down memory lane. He looked over to where Peggy was standing up. "You have to leave so soon?" He asked as he let go of her hand, moving so he could tread water.
She giggled, looking over at him. "You didn't hear my stomach growling? I've got to go get something to eat."
He held out his arms with a slight pout and Peggy immediately went in for a hug. "You're worse than some of my friends at work, I swear." She teased him with a laugh.
"Well, they get to see you for more than an hour or two so they have no excuse." He chuckled, pulling her in close.
"I guess you've got a point." She rolled her eyes all the while smiling. "I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Of course, mon ami. I will see you tomorrow." He agreed.
Peggy gave him one last hug and a kiss on the cheek before heading back up on the beach to go home. She had left her bag and flip flops at the top of the sandbar, where there were small dunes separating the beach from the access point. She pulled the towel she brought out and dried off as best she could before stuffing it back in the bag. She picked up her flip flops, knocking off the sand, and shouldered her bag, making her way back to the hustle and bustle of the city.
Lafayette watched her leave until he couldn't see her anymore. When she was out of sight, he sighed. He didn't like watching her walk away. He would much rather dive under the water with her so they could swim to the underwater city he now calls home. He misses the Mediterranean waters at times but he found a family with the people who call this part of the Atlantic home. John, Herc, and Alex he considered his brothers. The Schuylers were great friends and Washington was like a father figure. Then there was Peggy. The Schuyler that belonged in the sea but lived on land. He shook his head to clear his thoughts. She would join them soon enough.
She rinsed off her feet at the public wash station that began the trail down to the main part of the beach before sliding on her flip flops. Her bag was still nestled between her thighs as she pulled her hair up into a bun on top of her head. Shouldering her bag once more, she set off to her apartment. It wasn't that bad of a walk. It wasn't waterfront but she was high enough that she could see the water despite the hotels and other buildings that offered a true waterfront view.
Her bag drooped as she plopped it down by her washer. She would get to the wet towels and sand covered things later. Right now all she wanted was to make herself something to eat. She really hadn't realized how hungry she was until she heard her stomach growl. It had been like some other being was inside her. She was really surprised that Lafayette didn't hear it. Then again he did seem to be off in his own little world.
If it hadn't been for her stomach, she could have stayed out there with him until the sun went down and the stars came out. Being with him was easy. They could just sit and watch the waves in a comfortable silence or talk for hours if they wanted to. She smiled, remembering the first time they floated together. He didn't judge her for working at Mermaid Lagoon, he actually appreciated that there was someone there that actually cared and was trying to make a difference. She was even able to get some questions answered that she always wanted to know like what was their world like and did it vary from place to place or were there just mega cities in the various oceans.
As she poured the pasta in the pot, she briefly wondered if Lafayette would ever agree to eating dinner with her one evening, extend their time together than just the hour or two they spent together on the beach. He did always seem to hate when she had to leave. Was she reading too much into this?
The sizzle of water boiling over brought her out of her thoughts. She turned the knob to lower the temperature of the burner and stirred the noodles to make sure she didn't have any sticking to the bottom. Burnt pasta did not sound very appetizing. She then got an idea. It was crazy and she'd probably be let down but she was going to give it a try. She always made enough for two anyway so she'd have something for lunch the next day but why not share it with someone else.
Once the noodles were cooked and the water drained she put the spaghetti noodles in a plastic container. She poured sauce over top and even added a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. After placing the lid on the container, she grabbed two forks and put everything in her lunch box. Before she could even second guess herself she slipped on her flip flops and went back out to her spot.
The moon was beginning to rise as she walked back out to the beach. As she got closer and closer, she grew more and more worried. There were multiple times on her trek that she thought about just turning around and going back home. This was stupid. He wasn't going to be there. It wasn't like they had telepathic abilities and he would just know that she was there.
She shook her head to try and get rid of her doubtful thoughts. If he wasn't there, he wasn't there. She would just have a moonlit picnic on the beach instead of eating by herself in her small, one bedroom apartment. A moonlit picnic with herself sounded just as lovely as sharing it with the merman she was pretty sure was stealing her heart right out from under her.
So she kept going. She slid off her flip flops once she got past the warning sign and set her lunch box by them. She pulled out the container full of spaghetti and the two forks before walking down to the water. She held the lid underneath the container along with the extra fork. With her other hand she mixed everything together so all of the noodles would have some of the marinara sauce covering them.
Lafayette was a bit of a ways from the sandbar. He had gone back to give his Peggy update and to eat something himself. He was now waiting for Hercules to show up but he was always near the surface in case something were to happen where he needed to get to land and fast. He saw her when she got closer to the water and grew confused. What was Peggy doing here and what was in her hand?
He swam closer to shore and when he poked his head back up out of the water, Peggy noticed him. She lowered her food, smiling at him and waving. He easily returned the smile and got even closer before riding in on a small wave. "Are you okay, mon ami? Not that I'm not happy to see you, of course, you just usually don't come back after we say our goodbyes." He said as he looked her over to make sure that she wasn't hurt in anyway.
"Laf, I'm fine. It's just what you said earlier. Just because I have to go get food doesn't mean we have to say goodbye. There's still plenty of time before I have to truly say goodnight. So I thought we could start a new tradition." She offered him the extra fork, hoping she wouldn't have to explain much further.
Lafayette grinned as he took the fork she was offering him. "I think I'm really going to like this new tradition." He said as he twirled his fork in the pasta. "Why didn't we think of this earlier?"
Peggy laughed, getting her own fork full of pasta once he was done. "I don't know. It seems like the simplest idea. I'll just be a little later getting here after work so I can just stay without having to go back and forth."
"I like that idea even more. We'll talk, then float and finish with a beach side picnic." He grinned at her.
"Exactly," Peggy beamed.
They continued eating in silence, not being able to keep a smile off their faces. "Is there something that you don't eat so I know not to make it?" She asked once they were finished eating. They had put the forks in the container and Peggy placed the lid on top, now holding it in her lap.
Lafayette smirked. "You're the specialist. You tell me." He teased her.
Peggy shoved at his shoulder. "Shut up. I know it's a basic pescatarian diet but I didn't know if you had any allergies I needed to know about or preferences."
He laughed then shook his head. "No, I don't have any allergies or preferences. Thank you for dinner tonight. It was a lot better than the kelp salad I had."
"That just sounds awful so you're welcome." She giggled.
"Yeah, it wasn't the best." He agreed. "Is it safe for you to walk back at this time by yourself?" He then asked, knowing that she would probably have to leave soon. Besides, if she ran into Hercules on her way back that could throw a wrench in things.
Peggy turned so she could look behind her. She pointed to the building that could be seen just past the sand. "Do you see that building?" She waited until Lafayette nodded before she continued. "Just a block past that building, basically on the other side of that building is the building I live in. So I'll be fine. There's still plenty of activity going on at the main part of the beach that there will be no one but locals going back home."
"Then I will walk you home." He nodded as if it had been decided that this was exactly what was going to happen.
"And how are you going to do that?" She quirked an eyebrow up.
He used the tip of his tail to flick some water towards her. "Just because I have a tail right now doesn't mean that I can't get legs."
She flinched when she felt the water hit her face, causing him to smirk in her direction. "There's the matter of clothing."
"Me thinks the lady doth protest too much." He teased her before showing a bit of his disappointment in her not agreeing to his offer. "Do you really not want me to walk you home?"
"No," she then realized how that sounded, "I mean, yes I wouldn't mind if you walked me home. I just -"
"You just what? It's decided then. I'll walk you home." He said, smiling. If it was clothes she was worried about, he could go grab some seaweed and make a skirt like Hercules taught him.
"I just don't want to inconvenience you is all. You don't have to transform yourself for just a ten minute walk." She still tried to protest.
Lafayette shook his head. "Nope. It's not an inconvenience. Now you better still be here when I get back." He gave her a pointed look before he went back into the water.
Peggy gave him a small salute, watching as he dove under the water, his purple and silver scales shining in the moonlight. She shook her head in disbelief as she waited for him to return. She couldn't believe he was going through all of this just so he could walk her home. She really could just go and grab her things and leave but she made a promise to still be here. Besides, she didn't want Lafayette to be mad at her. She could at least go ahead and put away the container and forks, though.
"You stayed." He said when he returned by her side. Around his waist were strands of seaweed that were put together like a grass skirt.
"Of course I did. You would have hunt me down if I hadn't, I'm sure of it." She bumped her shoulder against his as she teased him.
He laughed. "You're right about that. Now for something I'm sure your expertise doesn't know." He smirked over at her before he scooped up some sand and poured it over his tail. He murmured something and the shark's tooth that he had hanging around his neck began to glow.
Peggy watched in awe as his tail morphed into legs. She had always been told that their tails had to dry out before switching over to legs. "How?" was all she was able to get out as she returned her gaze to his face.
"I'm a part of the Coral Guard. We not only protect our respected cities but those chosen to protect the mayor and are a part of that inner circle are given these necklaces. They are blessed by a priestess so that whoever wears it will be able to gain legs quickly if it is needed." Lafayette explained, leaning towards her with a smile. "Bet they didn't tell you that in your fancy classes."
"No, they sure didn't." She shook her head a slight laugh bubbling forth at his cocky attitude.
"Gotta keep it a secret though. Can't have your boss finding out." He whispered, winking in her direction
Peggy leaned forward and whispered. "Your secret is safe with me."
She then stood, offering her hands out to him so she could help him up. He placed his hands in hers and with her help, stood up. It had been a while since he had used his legs so getting his balance was a little tricky. He stumbled a bit when he first stood at his full height but Peggy was able to help maintain his balance. Her hands left his and went to his waist so he could try to find his center. She had to look up to even see his face since he was now nearly a foot taller than her. "You okay?" She asked him as she took a small step back to see if he could get it on his own.
"Oui. I just had to get my sea legs about me." He smiled down at her. "Who knew you were so short?" He then teased her.
"I will push you back into the ocean." She threatened as she started walking towards her things. It was an empty threat which he apparently knew since he began laughing as he followed behind her.
She picked up her flip flops and lunch box, putting the items in one hand so she could hold Lafayette's in her other. "This way I don't lose you in my ocean." She said as her explanation as if she really needed an excuse to hold his hand.
He smiled down at her but she didn't notice, she was too focused on looking straight ahead, keeping them on their path. In the two months he had known her, she had completely entranced him. He looked forward everyday to when she would come visit him. The stresses of planning the movement got to him sometimes especially with Alexander continuously pushing that they just go ahead and attack Mermaid Lagoon. Without realizing it, she was able to ease some of the tension he held onto after those meetings and turn his bad days around. He hoped that he was able to do the same for her. The strategist in him was worried about how her dinner idea would affect his and Hercules' meetings but the lover in him knew that they would find a way to work around it because he would do anything to have more time with Peggy.
There was movement in the shrubs that were used to try and hide the entrance to the secluded part of the beach. Both of them turned to look to see what it could possibly be but since Peggy couldn't see anything she just waved it off. "Must be a bird or something. Good thing you were here to protect me." She teased him, flashing a cheeky grin as she let go of his hand to walk backwards to tease him further.
Lafayette turned back towards Peggy with a shocked expression. "Are you mocking me, mon ami?" He began to pick up his pace so he could catch up with her.
"Maybe..." She held out the vowel with a smirk on her face as she began to walk a little faster.
He wasn't going to let her get away. Just before she was about to turn around, he grabbed her around her waist and tossed her over his shoulder. She squealed at the suddenness before laughing. "Lafayette, put me down! I'm not supposed to be this tall. You don't even know where you're going!"
His laughter soon joined in with hers in filling the night air. "Sure I do. We're walking past the building that's right in front of us until we get to the building behind it and then we go in and to your quarters."
"But can't I just walk?" She squirmed a little bit to see if she would be able to free herself. She couldn't. He just tightened his grip on her legs.
"Nope. This is how I can protect you from those pesky birds. You just enjoy the ride until we get you home." He teased her.
This definitely wasn't the ride she was wanting to enjoy. She was very much aware of how there was nothing underneath the seaweed skirt that he had made himself. While she had been doing her best not to peak, she definitely caught some glances. She now understood how her mother could have fallen in love with a merman because she was definitely doing it herself. She briefly wondered if a half mermaid and a full merman would make full or half merbabies. Whoa, there Peggy, getting way too ahead of yourself.
The thing is, it wasn't a bird in the bushes and Lafayette knew that. He wanted to get her home quickly so he could come back out and take care of business. He had every intention of walking her all the way to her door, not just to her building. Then maybe, just maybe, he could find the courage to give her more than just a hug goodbye.
"Who knew a man who was half fish would have such a great ass." Peggy finally spoke up, figuring since her dinner idea went so well she might as well try openly flirting with him.
The comment took him by surprise, not expecting her to say something like that. He laughed though, a smirk tugging on his lips. Yeah, he was definitely going to try to give her a kiss goodnight instead of a hug. "Who knew a woman who was a quarter fish would have such a great ass."
He set her back down on her feet then. They had made it outside of her building. He couldn't tell if her face was red from blushing at his statement or from being upside down. She really didn't think this the rest of the way through. Then again she hadn't realized that they were already so close to her apartment building. She bit her lower lip as she looked up at him. She wasn't really sure if she should invite him up or not. There were so many implications and different scenarios running about in her head, they froze her to her spot, not allowing any words to come out.
Lafayette took a step forward. This was his moment now. He was sure of it. His hand was still on her waist from where he set her down. He brought his other hand up and caressed her cheek. He wanted to give her plenty of moments to push away, to step back, to tell him no. He was so worried that he was reading into things all wrong. He was sure to get a speech from Hercules, who he was sure now was in another set of bushes across the street from them, waiting until he was done but he didn't care. It was just him and Peggy in this moment. That's all that mattered to him.
Peggy got lost in the moment. Her mind for once wasn't screaming at her. All of the racing it was doing before seemed to stop, slow down at least. It was telling her yes. It was telling her that this, this felt right. They weren't sure who was the one to start the kiss. She stood on her tiptoes as he had begun to dip down. Her arms wrapped around his neck and the one he had against her cheek dropped down to her waist so he could keep her steady. The kiss started out tentative, as if they were testing the waters, seeing if this really was something the other wanted to do. Lafayette pulled her closer, wrapping his arms around her causing her to arch into him and took control of the kiss. It was no longer a guessing game.
"Wow." Peggy breathed out once they pulled apart. Both of their chests were heaving as they gulped in air having kissed until the need for air was far greater than remaining locked in a lover's embrace.
Lafayette chuckled, grin stretched from ear to ear causing his eyes to crinkle at the sides. There was happiness to be had in the middle of preparing for a war. "Peggy, will you be ma cherie?"
She giggled and nodded her head, a matching grin on her face. "Oui."
"You've just made me the happiest man alive." If at all possible his smile grew even larger before he bent down and gave her another kiss. "May I walk you to your door?"
She wanted to let him up with her so bad but she also knew if he were to walk her to her door now there would be no sleep had for her and she was pretty sure she had like a four show day tomorrow. "If I didn't have work in the morning, yes, but since I do, I'm going to have to wish you a good night and a safe trip back home."
"Then don't go in tomorrow. You hate it there anyway." He shrugged.
"If I don't go in tomorrow then I'll have some very angry people with me. Friday isn't that far away. You can walk me to my door then and maybe stay the night?" She raised an eyebrow.
Lafayette smirked. "I will be counting down the days until Friday then. I'll still see you tomorrow though, right?" He then asked, growing worried.
"Yes, you'll still see me tomorrow." She stood on her tip toes and gave him a sweet kiss before backing up to the main entrance of her apartment building. "Sweet dreams, Laf."
"Bonne nuit ma cherie." He took her hand and placed a kiss across her knuckles.
A pretty blush colored her cheeks once more before she turned and made her way inside. Lafayette watched until she couldn't be seen anymore before making his way back to the beach. Some of the weight he had been carrying on his shoulders seemed lighter, more bearable and even though he knew Hercules was going to come out from his hiding spot at any moment so they could meet, he didn't regret the turn of events this evening had. Nothing his friend could say would ever make him do that.
Chapter 3: three
AN: This one is a little shorter, well a lot shorter, than the previous two but don't worry the longer chapters pick back up next chapter. There are just so many moving pieces to this story and I'm doing my best to show all of them. I hope you're enjoying so far! I can't wait to hear what you think. Much love!
About a block away from Peggy's building, Hercules finally made his appearance known to Lafayette. "At least you listen to me on one thing." He said motioning towards Lafayette's seaweed skirt.
Lafayette rolled his eyes. "I was assigned to protect her and that was what I was doing."
"Oh yeah, that was some protection kiss you gave her." Hercules quipped.
"I am from the Mediterranean Sea, mon ami, do you forget that we are more inclined to follow our hearts?" Lafayette sighed. "Everything still remains the same, Hercules. I will still storm the so called amusement park after removing Miss Schuyler from the grounds as I have been instructed to do. She is still unaware of our plans."
"Good. She can't know until hours before and she must not know about her true heritage until after we win. She will be given the choice to return to her rightful home." Hercules said as they walked down the beach.
He had always known his friend would become smitten with Peggy. His best friend always went for the spunky ones. After getting to know Peggy throughout the years he had been undercover at Mermaid Lagoon, he knew her spunk was paired with a big heart so maybe this time his best friend wouldn't wind up broken hearted.
That spunk and big heart was also troublesome for their plans. If Peggy were to find out that they planned to storm the park, she would fight to make sure she was right there beside them.
"There are no updates today from either generals. Alexander seems to get antsier each day but that's probably due to both Eliza and John still being captured. Are there any messages I'm to pass along?" Lafayette said as he stepped closer to the water.
Hercules chuckled at the mention of Alexander. He had been ready to storm the gates ever since Eliza had been caught in that fisherman's net. He then nodded, answering Lafayette's question. "Eliza sends her love as usual. John says to be patient and they will all be reunited once again. His recovery is going just as it should be. Peggy is working to get his stamina back to where it was. She hasn't had to graft any more scales in a couple of weeks so he should be good as new in the coming months and just in time for our plan. I believe he's going to try to talk Peggy into letting him try to transform his tail."
Lafayette laughed, shaking his head. "Did you tell him good luck with that? You and I both know she is not going to let that happen unless she is certain his tail is fully healed."
Hercules laughed. "Yeah, I did. He still seems to think he can talk her into it. Says she thinks he's cute so he's going to throw in some added merman charms."
"Tell him this for me then, dear friend. He better stay away from Peggy. She is my cheri. He already has a Schuyler sister and a Caribbean lover." Lafayette silently warned. They had just said they were to begin dating and already he was jealous of someone else speaking upon the youngest Schuyler's beauty.
This made Hercules smirk. "I see you aren't one for sharing then."
Lafayette shook his head. "I could not share my heart with another when it is already given to Peggy nor could I bare seeing her share her heart with another. I am happy that our friends are happy. I just could not do it myself."
Hercules nodded in understanding. Everything was fluid with merfolk. There were some that had multiple partners while there were also ones like Lafayette who, while yes, had a big heart and could love so many but when it came to romantic love he used that big heart of his to shower his partner with all of the love his heart could hold. "I'll be sure to pass along your message. Be safe."
Lafayette clasped Hercules' shoulder. "You as well, mon ami. Sweet dreams." With that he manipulated the water to surround his legs so when he went to gain his tail, it wouldn't cause him to fall. Instead he was able to just dive back into the ocean. Before he began his descent back home, he turned to wave at Hercules.
The other man still stood on shore, waving back at his friend. He missed the ocean, missed his home but he had a job to do and he wasn't going to let a little homesickness keep him from doing that. He would just take a bath tonight instead of a shower.
Showering was like being in the rain. The switch happened slowly. Scales began to appear along their arms and legs, waiting until they could fully grow, merging the legs together to make a tail. Only when submerged in water did the tail make its full appearance.
It is this way of transforming, scales appearing then growing until their legs are one that has allowed Hercules to remain in human form for as long as he has. It is this slow transition that has allowed Peggy to remain in her belief that she is only half mermaid.
When mermaids are born, they are born with their legs separate. It isn't until they are one month old that their tail is complete. Since Peggy was given to a human to be raised at a week old, the only part of her body that finished adapting to the water were her lungs and eyesight.
Hercules stood at the corner, looking up at Peggy's building. He couldn't wrap his head around her story, how she was still so smiley when there was something missing from her life. Maybe she didn't know she was missing something, or maybe she did. Maybe it's why she became a mermaid biologist and would rather be at the beach than at work.
He was originally upset that Lafayette had given into his feelings. There were many a night these past two months where his friend wondered if Peggy really liked him or not. Now after hearing how Lafayette grew jealous of hearing Peggy thinking John cute and finally seeing them interact for the first time, he couldn't fault them.
Peggy didn't know that there was a war brewing and who was he to deny his best friend a chance of happiness during this difficult time. He just hoped Peggy forgave Lafayette from keeping their plans a secret.
He chuckled to himself as he continued his walk to his own apartment building. It was two buildings behind and three over from Peggy's. It was far enough away he wouldn't cause any suspicion from Peggy but close enough that he could come help her at a drop of a hat.
His original mission here was to protect Peggy. When General Schuyler saw her on a Mermaid Lagoon boat, the older man rushed to Washington with worry for his youngest daughter. He was worried that Mermaid Lagoon would find out Peggy's truth and begin experimenting on her. Washington sent Hercules to keep an eye on her while also gathering as much information as he could. General Schuyler didn't calm down until after he had talked to Naomi and Hercules about what Peggy was doing at that awful park.
Now they were here. Peggy no longer feeling like her fight against King was really going anywhere. He remembered seeing her after King gave her a raise and more responsibility at the park. "I can't believe he thinks that giving me more money and making me a performance trainer is going to get me to stop!" She had huffed, pissed about how her latest meeting had turned out.
Hercules had admired her will to fight and had wished he could tell her that something was being done. She continued to fight King and took on her new job duties with a grace not even he had see in her sisters before. He knew she didn't want to stop fighting. He saw that in how she was slow to agree with him about calming down her efforts. If anything he knew in the upcoming days, she would be adding something to her tour speeches she gave around the rehab facilities. Quick, side comments thrown in that would make people think when she was out doing a show.
She had been fighting this battle alone. It was why despite her best efforts it didn't succeed. If she were to get park goers to think about or even listen to what she was saying then maybe she could make a difference instead of just being another gear in a human money making machine.
They wanted to give her a choice and in that want, they wanted to keep her away from the dark side of things. They wanted to keep her away from how living with the fear of being captured and turned into something to be looked at instead of a living creature did to their usual peaceful lifestyle. He wanted to tell her but he had been given an order and if he were to disobey, he would be brought back. He couldn't let that happen either.
After Peggy left for the day he went back around to his friends to make sure they were alright before he left to receive and deliver any messages Lafayette might have. He wanted all of this to be over already. He couldn't wait to get back to his life under the sea. He wanted to do something more though. Be careful what you wish for is what they say. He wasn't regretful of his decision. He just had no idea it would drag on for as long as it had.
Soon. He could feel it. Something was stirring in the air. Change was gonna happen real soon.
Chapter 4: four
AN: Hiya loves! Thanks so much for all of the love this story has gotten so far. This chapter returns to being a bit on the lengthier side of things. Just a heads up I will only be updating this story and my other ones once this week since Thursday night starts a pretty hectic weekend full of travel, a wedding, and seeing some family I haven't seen in FOREVER. ANYWHO just wanted to let you know that only one update will be happening this week.
Shows were her least favorite thing to do. Of course it was another way to mask education through entertainment but she had to stick to the script. The script treated the mers showcased like animals. The mers weren't even allowed to speak and the so called tricks were so below their intelligence.
She had done it for the previous shows she had to perform that day but if she wasn't going to speak with King anymore, then she had to do something else. Peggy didn't know why she didn't think of it sooner, she had hated the scripts ever since she had first received them. Then again her other shows that day had been with other trainers but now it was just her and the mers that were under her care.
"Good evening everyone! Welcome to Atlantica Stage! Have you all had a fun filled day at Mermaid Lagoon?" She asked as she came out on stage. The crowd cheered but as per usual she had to ask one more time, earning her a louder applause.
"Now that's more like it. Guys, I think you can come out now." She said signaling for Angelica, Eliza, Maria, and Susie to come out.
They sway into the main pool before jumping into the air, earning some cheers. They then swam to the stage Peggy was standing on. The sisters sat on one side of her while the mother and daughter duo sat on the other. Peggy handed them each small cookies for a great entrance. The older mermaids smiled despite the urge to roll their eyes but Susie was delighted.
"Before we get this show really started, I'd like to introduce you all to the beautiful mermaids I have the pleasure of working with everyday." Peggy said as she went to stand behind Eliza. "This is Eliza. She's been with us for two years now after we rescued her from a fishing net." Peggy gave Eliza a nod and the blue tailed mermaid slipped into the water and began swimming to the edge of the pool. On the way there, she jumped out of the water, completing a flip before swimming the rest of the way to the edge. She waved at the audience before making her way back.
"Next we have Angelica. She's the older sister to Eliza and you can definitely tell. In trying to set her sister free, she too was captured and brought to us." Angelica looked up to Peggy with curiosity. There slight changes to what she had heard her youngest sister say for years now and honestly she couldn't be prouder. Peggy just smiled knowingly and moved onto Maria, signaling for Angelica to do her introduction trick. The coral tailed mermaid got the hint and swam out towards the end of the pool where she jumped out close to the edge. She made sure to make a large splash before returning to the stage.
"Then we have Maria. If you've been with us for a while then you'll know that Maria is one of our many rehab graduates. It's where she also had her beautiful daughter Susie, who is now five years old." Peggy then motioned for the two to go into the pool to perform their trick. The two mers swam out to the edge of the pool and twirled up into the air before swimming back to the stage.
Peggy had grabbed a surf board and leaned against it once she was back center stage. "And I'm Peggy. I'll be your host for the evening." She introduced herself before entering the pool on the board. She paddled out about halfway with Eliza and Maria following her. The next thing the audience knew, the two mermaids were jumping over her.
"Mermaids have always fascinated me, so it should come to no surprise that I went onto study mermaid biology. I've been working at Mermaid Lagoon for six years now, not including the time I spent here as an undergrad. With its promise of world class care for these beautiful beings, I just couldn't say no. When I'm not having fun here, you can find me in the rehab facility nurturing our hurt and sick mers back to health. So when you're out on your boat, fishing or even thinking about not properly throwing away your trash, think of these beauties or even other mers you saw today so our rehab facility doesn't stay forever overbooked. Now who's ready for some fun?"
The crowd cheered and the music started playing. The four mermaids soon started their first round of tricks which also involved splashing the first few rows as much as possible. Near the end of the son Angelica and Eliza twirled Peggy around on the surfboard until they pushed her towards the edge.
Peggy thanked them as she got out of the pool. Angelica took post on the surfboard as Eliza went back to the main stage with Maria and Susie. "Now, I need one volunteer to be a junior trainer." Peggy said as she walked in front of the audience.
All of the little kids started jumping up and down, raising their hands and shouting various forms of pick me. There was a little boy, no older than eight that caught Peggy's eye. He was standing on his seat, raising his arm as high as it would go and wiggling his fingers. He wore a Little Mermaid shirt and while his expression was eager, he wasn't really shouting at her like the other kids. It was like he was murmuring his hopes to be picked under his breath. Peggy smiled at the boy and pointed towards him.
His mother, who was keeping hold of him so he wouldn't fall, looked up to him in excitement. "She's picked you!" The mom exclaimed helping her son down to meet Peggy.
"Hi." The little boy said as he bounced in place while looking up at Peggy in awe.
"Hi. What's your name?" Peggy asked, smiling down at the boy as she crouched to his level.
"My name's Kinston." He said proudly.
"Well Kinston, take my hand and we'll go over to meet my friend Angelica." She then stood to her full height and offered her hand.
Kinston took her hand and easily followed her to the steps that were placed at the center of the pool. "It seems to me I've got a fellow expert here with Kinston." Peggy said once he was standing on the top step. "Everyone give him a warm welcome as he becomes a junior trainer."
The crowd clapped causing the boy to shyly smile. "Kinston, would you say Ariel is your favorite?" She asked once the crowd's cheers died down.
"Do you remember her underwater kingdom?" She asked and once more he nodded.
"It was really pretty. I want to live there." He commented, earning a smile from Peggy.
"You're right, it was really pretty. What's really cool is that there are cities like that all over the world, not in just the oceans but in the seas, bays, lakes and even the rivers. So it really makes you think about not properly taking care of your trash right? It's not just the animals we should worry about. The lovely ladies behind me all came from the Atlantic Ocean. Just imagine all that they could have possibly seen before they were brought here. So what'd ya say Kinston are you going to be more mindful of what you leave behind and help others too?" She looked to the boy who was hanging onto every word she said.
He nodded his head and smiled. "Yeah."
"Good, that's the first step in becoming a junior trainer. Now are you ready to meet my friend Angelica?" She asked and he excitedly nodded.
Peggy smiled and helped him turn around to face the pool. Angelica had positioned herself on the surfboard as close to pool's edge as it would go. The oldest Schuyler smiled and waved to the small boy.
"Go ahead, say hello." Peggy encouraged but she didn't make it clear whom she was speaking to.
"Hello." Kinston greeted her with a shy smile.
Angelica's smile grew into a wide grin, figuring out what Peggy was doing . "Hello, Kinston."
That caused the small boy to gasp. He hadn't expected to hear her speak. All of the other shows he had been to today, he had never heard the mermaids talk. This caused Peggy to chuckle. "Yes, mermaids can in fact talk and they make great conversationalist. It's my favorite part of the day when I get to speak with these ladies and those who I take care of at rehab. No evil sea witch has taken their voices, they don't even need a sea witch to gain legs but that's a trick for another day."
Peggy then turned her attention to Angelica. "What would you like to show our friend here? He seems to be a pretty big fan."
Angelica thought about it before flopping her tail up on the edge. "I'm thinking he should learn more about the tail."
Peggy nodded and looked back at Kinston. "Alright Kinston, we are going to check for any loose scales because this can sometimes be painful for our mer friends. The closet thing I can think of is that's it's kinda like a loose tooth." She then raised her right hand and held up two fingers, keeping them together. "Now, put your hand like this and then you're going to gently rub over her tail, like this." Peggy demonstrated how she usually checked for any scale injuries.
Kinston followed Peggy's instructions and copied her motions. "Good. Feel anything that you might think could be harmful to Angelica?" Peggy encouraged.
He shook his head and looked back at Peggy, awaiting his next instruction. "Now what?"
"Well, we've now gotta check her tail strength. Mermaid tails are as strong as dolphin tails if not stronger. So come stand back down here." She helped him back down the stairs. "Now you're going to ask her to lift her tail up as high as it'll go and then bring it down as fast as she can. As soon as you see her lift her tail you gotta spin around to face the audience really fast okay? You got that?"
He nodded and then looked up to Angelica. "Miss Angelica, we've gotta test your tail strength now, okay?"
Both girls smiled at his politeness. Maybe there was hope with humans after all, Angelica thought as she nodded her answer. "Okay, now I would like you to lift your tail as high as you can and then bring it back down as quick as you can. Can you do that for me please?" He then asked.
"Why I certainly can." Angelica smiled and lifted her tail. Kinston turned really fast and Peggy stepped out of the way as she watched Angelica bring her tail back down to the water with a smack, causing a big splash to fall over Kinston.
Peggy chuckled as she grabbed the souvenir towel she always gave out to her junior trainers. "What'd ya think Kinston, her tail pretty strong?"
Kinston took the towel, a large grin on his face. "Yeah, it's really strong."
"Good. That means she's very healthy. Thank you so much for being my junior trainer today. Everyone give it up for Kinston!" She exclaimed holding out her hands to showcase the small boy.
As the cheers died down, she helped Kinston back up to his mom before climbing back into the pool. Angelica gave her a little push so that she could reach the stage quicker. Once back on the stage she started the second half of the show.
Once the show was over, she gave hugs to each of the girls for a show well done before she made her way to her locker. It was time to clock out and she couldn't wait to get out of the park. She was exhausted from all of the shows she performed that day so she decided that she was just going to go to the pier to pick up dinner for her and Lafayette.
When she got to the pier she noticed how people were standing against the railing and looking down at the beach. She was confused because usually people were standing down at the end of the pier looking over the edge. "What's going on?" She asked when she joined the group of people, trying to see for herself what was going on but it was difficult to see with the group of people down on the beach circling around whatever had come out of the water.
"A mermaid was -" but before the person could get out what they had planned to say Peggy took off running. She stumbled a bit as she came out of her flip flops but she kept pushing. She had to save whoever it was. They couldn't get taken to Mermaid Lagoon. She wouldn't allow it.
"I'm a mermaid specialist let me through!" She called out as she pushed her way through the crowd.
"Let her through! She's one of the best." A whiny voice echoed. It was Samuel Seaberry and that made Peggy's skin crawl. She had to figure out how to get whoever the mer was away from King's right hand man. If she was a betting woman she would bet that the reason why this mermaid was on the beach was because of him.
That's when she saw the purple scales. She was just about through to the middle when she saw them and it nearly made her freeze up. This was Lafayette. Lafayette was hurt. There was no way that she was going to let Seaberry get him. She just had to make sure that she didn't slip up and let Seaberry know that she knows the purple and silver tailed merman.
"Oh, Peggy thank god, you're here. I was just walking along the beach when I found him. We've got to get him back to rehab." Seaberry said as Peggy was crouched down assessing the damage Lafayette had on his tail. It looked like a harpoon had pierced his tail where his calf would have been if he had legs. The harpoon wasn't there though, and it seemed like he had ripped the weapon out of his tail causing even more damage.
"He's not going to make it there if we don't do something now. I need towels and water." She ordered, going right into surgery mode.
When Seaberry didn't move she growled in frustration. She began to get up to get the things herself when Lafayette reached out and grabbed her hand. She let out a breath to calm herself. "Okay, I'm not going anywhere. You're going to be okay, I promise. I've seen worse." She told him before looking at the members of those still watching.
There was a lifeguard there and Peggy could talk with him later. He looked frightened so she could tell this was his first mer incident. "Hey, do you have any extra towels at your stand? I need them asap to try and stop this bleeding." The lifeguard nodded and ran off to the stand.
She then looked back to the group and saw a young girl who couldn't be any older than ten. She was clutching onto her bucket Peggy was sure she was using to build a sand castle before the excitement started. Peggy waved her over and the girl stopped on the other side of Lafayette. "What's your name?" Peggy asked.
"Cassie." The young girl said.
"Alright, Cassie, I usually have a team of people with me when I tend to their injuries. Do you think you could be on my team for me?" Peggy tried to remain calm but she knew that she was racing against the clock at this point.
Cassie nodded her head and Peggy smiled. A couple more kids came up with buckets too all exclaiming how they wanted to help and Peggy grinned. "Okay, I need you all to go fill up your buckets with water, make sure all sand is out of the bucket though. I just need water okay? We've got to clean his wound and make sure his tail stays wet."
The trio of kids nodded their heads and hurried off to the ocean. Just as they ran off the lifeguard came back with a stack of towels. Peggy looked back up at Lafayette and so badly wanted to comfort him but she needed to remain professional. "What's your name?" She really hoped he would just say it instead of saying something that could get them both into trouble.
"It's Lafayette, y-" He began to say you know this but Peggy cut him off. "Lafayette, I'm going to lift your tail slightly okay?" He nodded, bracing himself for whatever pain he was about to be in.
"Are you going to be useful or just stand there?" Peggy then looked up to Seaberry. The fierce look in her eye scared him and he got down on his knees at the end of Lafayette's tail. "Take the top towel and lay it out flat underneath his tail, got it?" Seaberry nodded, grabbing the top towel from the lifeguard.
Peggy took a deep breath before sliding both of her hands underneath Lafayette's tail on either side of the wound. She carefully lifted the tail and while she had it up in the air she looked to see if there was an exit wound. When she saw that there was none, she let out a sigh of relief. Maybe things wouldn't be as bad as she had originally thought.
As Seaberry placed the towel where his tail once was, the kids came back, awaiting their next instruction. Peggy smiled her thanks as she lowered Lafayette's tail on the towel. "Cassie, can I see your bucket?" Cassie nodded and handed it over.
"Thank you. Now, come on the other side of me and sit next to me. You're gonna hold his hand, okay? Keep him talking too and if anything starts to look different than it does right now you let me know okay?" Peggy instructed and Cassie did exactly as she said. The young girl took Lafayette's hand in hers and introduced herself before telling him all about where she's from and how her vacation had been so far.
With Lafayette now preoccupied, Peggy turned back to the other two kids. "So we've got to clean his wound now. Take your bucket, just like this and carefully pour the water all over the wound." She instructed as she showed the kids what to do. When she was done with her bucket she thrusted it towards Seaberry. "You're on water duty."
Seaberry took the bucket and scrambled to his feet as he hurried off to get more water. The kids went one by one and the lifeguard even handed some gloves over to Peggy which she thanked him for. Peggy grabbed another towel off the stack and began to wipe around the wound as the kids poured their water. When they were done, she grabbed a clean towel and pressed against the wound, to try and get the bleeding to stop. "Can I borrow your golf cart once he's in a better condition to be moved?" She asked the lifeguard.
"Yeah, I'll drive ya to wherever you need. Should, I, uh, call this in?" He asked, still unsure of what to do.
Peggy shook her head. "No, I'll go over what to do if this ever happens again once we get him in a better position. I'm just glad that I got here when I did."
"So you're an expert on this stuff?" He was amazed at how she had come right in and taken charge.
"She's the head of our rehab facility at Mermaid Lagoon." Seaberry spoke up, trying to make himself seem important. He had hoped with Peggy here that he would be able to extract this merman easily but it seemed as though his fellow coworker had other ideas.
"Yes, which means I know what is best." She emphasized each word, trying to say in so few words that she was going to be in charge about this and not him even if he was practically King's assistant and head of the extraction team.
Seaberry backed off a little bit. When there weren't a lot of people around he would remind her of King's expectations. Peggy focused back on her task at hand, lifting the towel to check the process. The bleeding had slowed so she tossed it to her side. "I'm about to lift his tail again." She began speaking to the lifeguard, who nodded at her to let her know that he was listening. "I need you to take those remaining towels and wrap them around his tail." She then instructed and once more he nodded, getting ready with the two towels he had left.
He placed one towel over his shoulder and unfolded the other so that it was long, being careful to not let it touch the sand. Peggy slid her hands under Lafayette's tails again and lifted it. The lifeguard began wrapping the towel around Lafayette's tail and soon he was doing the same with the second towel, tying the two ends together. She lowered his tail back down as gentle as she could before turning to the kids that helped her out. "You guys were great junior trainers. Thank you so much. Now remember if you ever see an injured mer on the beach again, keep their tail wet and go tell the life guard, they'll know what to do."
The kids nodded, expressing their thanks in letting them help and hurried back to their parents. Cassie took her bucket back and came over to whisper in Peggy's ear. "He told me to tell you that he's sorry for ruining dinner."
"Thank you." Peggy said with a small smile before jumping back into action.
"Does your golf cart come all the way out here?" She looked towards the lifeguard.
"Yeah." He nodded, motioning towards where it was. "I'll go get it."
"What do you want me to do?" Seaberry asked as the lifeguard ran off.
Peggy stood and got into his personal space. Her voice held an underlying tone of a threat. She was angry and if she found out that he was in fact involved with this incident, he didn't need to be anywhere near her. "I want you to go home. You've caused enough damage already and if I even hear a whisper about this incident at work then I'm coming for you because you did nothing to try to help him once you came across him like you should have."
"Well, you're not doing what you promised to do either so you would go down with me. Besides King would listen to me before he even listened to you. I know what you've been trying to do." He tried to pull rank and save face in front of the few people that were still standing around.
"I'm not doing what I promised? I promised to always look out and to care for to the best of my abilities any mer that I come across or am assigned to. That is exactly what I'm doing. I come to speak to King about their living conditions in the park because that is apart of that promise. So don't even try me. Now leave. You're not needed anymore." Peggy said, not even raising her voice. She kept it all at the same volume before she crouched back down to be at Lafayette's side.
Seaberry walked off in a huff as the lifeguard pulled up. "Okay, Laf, our lifeguard friend is gonna help me get you on his golf cart and we're gonna go back to my place. Then I'm gonna get you all patched up, okay? But you'll probably need to help us a little bit, I don't know how strong this guy is."
Lafayette nodded and then gave her a small smirk. "This wasn't how I wanted to see your apartment."
"Oh shut it you." Peggy smiled while she shook her head before focusing back on the lifeguard. "Okay you'll pick him up from under his arms and then I've got his tail."
The lifeguard nodded and came around to stand behind Lafayette's shoulders. Peggy moved closer to his tail and looked up at the lifeguard. "Okay, on the count of three."
Peggy counted down and once she hit three, the two lifted Lafayette off the sand and made their way to the golf cart. The lifeguard eased up onto the backseat of the cart and shuffled through to the other side, making sure that Lafayette's back was supported by the post that held up the cart roof. Peggy followed, making sure that his tail remained as straight as possible. "Won't be long now, Laf. I promise." She squeezed his hand before sliding into the front seat next to the lifeguard.
Once they reached Peggy's apartment building, she ran inside to grab a bell cart. "Do you still need help after this?" The lifeguard asked as she rolled the bell cart to the side of the golf cart that Lafayette's torso was on.
"Yes, because I'll need to get him in the tub." Peggy replied as she hurried around to Lafayette's tail.
"You're putting me in your bathtub?" Lafayette asked, doing his best to sound more indignant than pained.
"Well where else do you suggest I put you? Your tail needs to remain a tail until your wound heals and I can't put you in the building's pool. One it's chlorine and two you'll for sure be taken to Mermaid Lagoon then." Peggy gave him a look that read 'this should be obvious'.
They got him onto the bell cart, sitting him at a diagonal so that his tail would fit best. Not only did they have to deal with tail length, they had to worry about tailfin width. His tailfin matched that of a large swordfish so it wasn't the smallest of tailfins. Once inside the apartment building, they raced to the elevators so no one would really get a chance to see that there was a merman on a bell cart.
Peggy pressed the up button repeatedly even though she knew it wouldn't make the elevator come any faster. After what felt like a lifetime, the elevator closest to them dinged and the doors opened. They raced inside and once she pressed her floor button, she kept hitting the close door button over and over again until they finally began closing. Bringing her backpack around to her front, she pulled out her keys so they could get into her apartment as quick as they could.
The elevator doors opened and Peggy was the first one to step off. She pulled the bell cart behind her as the lifeguard pushed, hurrying down the hallway to her apartment building. "I want a proper tour once I stop seeing two of you." Lafayette said as they entered into her apartment.
That worried her even more. She figured that he had lost quite a bit of blood but she wasn't sure how much. She tossed her backpack into the kitchen as she passed it going to the bathroom. Flicking on the lights, she pulled the bell cart over so that it was sitting in the middle of the doorway that way both she and the lifeguard could place Lafayette into the tub.
"In the cabinet second from the left of the fridge is my salt, could you bring that for me please?" Peggy called out as she started a bath. She knew her tub was going to be small since it was a shower tub combo but she hoped it wouldn't be too uncomfortable since she wanted to keep the wound away from being submerged completely for the time being. She made a mental note to get supplies from the rehab when she went in next.
The lifeguard came back and handed her the salt which she gratefully took. She opened the container and poured what was left in the container in the bathwater. She swirled the water around to mix the salt in before tossing the container in the trash can. "Okay, you're going to have to lift his tail this time. You'll hold it as if you're going to cradle it. You've got to support the injured area just as much as you have to be weary of it."
The lifeguard nodded, a little worried about their change of placement. "Are you sure you can lift him up?"
"Oh, yeah. I'm stronger than I look I promise. There's just not a lot of room to turn around in here." Peggy smiled at him, not taking any offense to his question.
They talked Lafayette through turning him around so that they could get him into the bathroom. The lifeguard was still a little worried about holding Lafayette's tail so Peggy talked him through how to hold it using Lafayette's arm as a visual. She gave his arm a squeeze before reaching around his chest to lift him up. They counted to three once more and lifted Lafayette up.
Peggy slowly made her way to the tub so that the lifeguard could be as careful as he could walking up and over the bell cart to get into the bathroom. She shimmied into the space between the tub and her toilet before lowering him down into the tub.
The lifeguard still had Lafayette's tail. Peggy came over and took over, gently lowering his tail to rest on the edge of the tub. She pushed her towel out of the way so that his tailfin could have as much space as possible. Being in the water seemed to perk Lafayette up a little bit but he would need more than water to return back to normal. Peggy turned off the water once it was full enough and then placed a kiss on top of Lafayette's head. "I'll be right back." She promised before ushering the lifeguard out of the bathroom.
"You don't need anymore help?" The lifeguard asked as he began pushing the bell cart towards the door.
"No, thank you for today." Then she remembered that she wanted to give him her business card. She hurried into the kitchen and pulled her wallet out of her backpack. She grabbed a card and scribbled her personal cell phone number on the back. "This is in case a mer should ever become injured on your beach again. Keep the tail wet and call me. If the injury is to the torso or above treat it as if you would any human. If the injury is to the tail, clean it to the best of your ability and keep pressure on the injury until I arrive. No matter what though keep the tail wet because if they begin to transition you'll be dealing with a naked human on top of everything else."
The lifeguard nodded and took the business card. "So it's only if -"
They didn't get to finish their sentence before Peggy cut them off. "It is only for mermaid emergencies."
"Got it. See you around then." They nodded before leaving Peggy's apartment, taking the bell cart with them.
Peggy let out a deep breath, preparing herself for what she was about to do. She locked up behind the lifeguard and went back into the bathroom, pulling out her first aid kit. She placed that on the closed toilet lid and went back out to her linen closet to grab a washcloth and a small step stool. She brought the stool back into the bathroom, placing it close to Lafayette's tail.
She took his hand and gave it a small squeeze. He had been staring at where the towels were wrapped around his tail. At the pressure on his hand he looked up to see Peggy looking at him with a wary expression. "What is it?" He asked, nervous about what she was going to say.
"I've got to stitch up your wound and I don't have any medicine to numb it. The best I can offer is this washcloth to bite down on." She bit on her bottom lip as she placed the cloth across her knee.
Lafayette nodded, grabbing the cloth and leaning back so he could fully rest against the tub. "I trust you." He folded the cloth and placed it into his mouth, readying himself for what was to come.
She gave a small smile before getting to work. She unwrapped the towels from his tail, tossing them behind her. She then opened up her first aid kit, pulling out the supplies she would need. She switched out her gloves and began to truly clean the wound. She did her best to focus solely on the wound but she still noticed Lafayette tensing when something caused him pain.
"Okay, this part is the part that's going to really hurt. Luckily you don't need anything besides stitches but this is still a really big gash. So it'll be a few weeks before it's healed completely." Peggy said as she prepped the needle.
"A few weeks stuck with you doesn't sound so bad." He smirked in her direction.
She knew he was flirting with her to try and make her smile and she gave him a small one but she was about to hurt him and that was something she never wanted to do. "Peggy, you are mending me, not hurting me. If this is the price I have to pay to be here with you instead of Mermaid Lagoon, then I will pay ten times over." He said when he saw that her smile didn't quite reach her eyes as he had hoped.
Peggy nodded and turned to the wound. Starting near the bottom, she stitched her way up his tail. She tried to work as quickly as she could while also be as careful as she could. She really didn't want to cause him too much pain and yet she knew the sounds of his grunts would haunt her dreams tonight.
Chapter 5: five
AN: I know it has been a minute but I just realized I've had this chapter ready to go for awhile now. It is a little bit shorter than usual but the next chapter should be ready to go here soon. I hope you enjoy and I can't wait to hear what you think!
Once she was done stitching up his wound, she placed a patch of gauze over it. She made the mental note of getting the waterproof bandages they had at the rehab facility. She placed the needle on the sink and removed her gloves. Peggy stood and took the cloth from Lafayette's hands. He had removed it after she had finished the procedure. Just as she was about to move back, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her forward.
She squeaked as she felt herself being tugged down, slamming her hand against the wall of the tub to regain her balance. Before she was able to even speak, Lafayette cupped her jaw with his other hand and pulled her even closer to capture her lips with his own. Fear, relief, desperation, gratefulness were all wrapped up into this one kiss. The moment he had felt the harpoon pierce his tail all he could think about was that the next time he saw Peggy, he would be trapped just like the others. He may now be in a cramped tub but he was with Peggy and as soon as she deemed him fully healed, he would be able to go back and continue to help with the rebellion. He just needed to figure out how to tell the others but he could worry about that later. He had Peggy, he wasn't too severely injured, and he was safe. That's all he really worried about.
"I want to know everything that happened, but first, I'm gonna go, make us, something to eat, because despite that kiss, your eyes are drooping, and you seem more winded than I do." She said in between her tries at catching her breath from such a long, deep kiss.
Lafayette chuckled but nodded his head as he leaned back against the tub. His eyes were indeed half closed as his chest heaved from him trying to gulp down all the air that he could get. Peggy placed a kiss on top of his head and pulled away from the tub. She quickly cleaned up everything on the sink before making her way into her kitchen.
She came back in a few minutes later with a plate that held two tuna salad sandwiches and a bag of chips. They mainly ate in silence, the crunching of potato chips could be heard every once in awhile, but it was like they both were trying to process what had just happened. "Thank you." Lafayette spoke up once he was done with his sandwich. "I can see why those in your care have claimed you as their favorite."
"You'll also know why they say they hate me sometimes too in a week or so, depending on how quickly that gash heals up. Now what happened?" She asked, popping a chip into her mouth.
Lafayette sighed, slumping down a little further into the water. "I do not wish to anger you, mon cheri."
Peggy shook her head before turning to place the bag of chips and plate on the sink counter. "I need to know, Laf. If it wasn't one of King's people then I need to report it. Hell, even if it was one of my coworkers I need to report it."
"I am of the belief that it was indeed one of your coworkers. I was swimming along the coast waiting for you to arrive from work when I heard a boat. I swam down deeper to get out of the way but I apparently was not fast enough. The next thing I knew something pierced my tail. I looked down and a harpoon was sticking out. I pulled it out so I could swim further away but I was so tired that I just let the waves take me to the shore. You found me not soon after." He explained, watching Peggy's face as he told the tale.
Her expression remained stoic throughout the whole thing despite an anger slowly bubbling underneath the surface. She couldn't understand why someone would do such a thing. "Did you see any markings on the boat?" She had to be sure that it was truly a Mermaid Lagoon boat before she stormed any offices. After all, Seaberry could easily tell them that she moved the injured mer to another location that wasn't Mermaid Lagoon rehabilitation.
He shook his head. "Non, I just heard the motor and tried to get away as fast as I could."
"Then why do you think that it was someone from the park?" She asked, genuinely curious. She needed solid evidence before she did anything.
"Because that Seaberry person was one of the first ones that leaned over my face." He answered matter of factly.
She nodded, making the mental note to try and see if the park had a secret stash of harpoons. "They didn't get the harpoon back did they?"
"Non, it sank to the bottom of the ocean as soon as I pulled it out."
"Then it looks like I'll be going on a scavenger hunt tomorrow." She determined, trying to mentally go through her schedule for the next day to see when she could snoop around.
"I do not want you to get in trouble, mon cheri. You are already risking so much by having me here."
"That's the thing, Laf, you shouldn't be here." She then realized how that could sound and tried to fix it. "You shouldn't be here under this circumstance."
"Well, I am here now and yes, I would much prefer not to be in your bathtub but that is how things have happened."
"Still doesn't mean that I have to like it."
"I never said that you had to. I just don't want you getting in trouble because then you won't be able to help those at the park like you want."
Peggy groaned as she laid her head against her knees. "Why is this so complicated? It shouldn't be this complicated."
Lafayette sat up, moving closer without moving his tail too much. He knew that Peggy would be a good ally in their efforts but now seeing her like this, he wasn't so sure he wanted her to know now. It already seemed like she held all of the weight from that park on her shoulders. He didn't know why it hadn't been so obvious before. He knew how hard she tried to fight for the mers trapped inside. He began to run his fingers through her hair to try and calm her down. "Oh, mon cheri, it doesn't have to be complicated. I am with you, so I know that I will be fine. You don't have to worry about me. It is those who are still trapped inside of the tanks that need your saving."
She let out a sigh, relaxing into his touch. "I guess." Peggy raised her head, resting her chin on her arms so she could look up at him. "I'll make sure to get the supplies I need then I'll take care of those under my care and then I'll be home." She promised before standing.
She could feel it getting close to her bed time either that or she was crashing after her adrenaline rush. "I'm gonna go get ready for bed. Would you like the light on or off?"
"Off, please." He replied as he settled back against the tub.
Peggy leaned down and placed a kiss to his forehead. "Goodnight, Laf."
"Sweet dreams, Peggy." He kissed her cheek just in time before she pulled away.
She didn't stay in her bed long. She tossed and turned, her dreams filled with the horrors of what if. In the middle of the night she tossed back the covers and grabbed the spare blanket she had folded over the foot of her bed. Wrapping it around her shoulders, she crept back into the bathroom and sat down at the edge of the tub. She kept the blanket draped as much as she could around her shoulders as she crossed her arms to form as much of a resting place for her head on the side of the tub as possible.
Lafayette had heard her moving around. He kept his eyes closed so as not to scare her or make her feel bad for waking him. In truth, he had been sleeping lightly so any new sound put him on alert. When the movement stopped, he opened his eyes and noticed her form at the side of the tub. Her breathing began to slow as she fell back asleep. He smiled down at her and moved a few of the strands that had fallen into her face back behind her ear. He hoped his tail healed quickly. He wanted so badly to hold her in his arms as they slept. Until he was fully healed and out of this bathtub that dream would not become a reality.
Chapter 6: six
AN: Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday season. Here is another chapter for ya to kick off the new year.
As Lafayette and Peggy slept side by side, Hercules and Alexander met at the usual meeting place. “What happened? Where’s Lafayette?” Hercules demanded as he reached Alexander.
The mer from the Caribbean shook his head. “They got him. We were swimming along, close to shore to figure out the best place to come ashore when we heard the sound of a boat motor. It was Lafayette who heard it first and told me to swim deeper before he started to himself. They threw a harpoon at him, Herc, a harpoon. They’re treating us like we’re just another type of fish. He was able to get the harpoon out but he washed up on the beach. One of their workers made it to him before a crowd formed. I couldn’t see what happened after that but some kids and even the worker came to the ocean to get some water so someone must have been working on him. Washington is not happy. We’ve lost another general to this so called park. We need to strike now.”
Hercules shook his head. He couldn’t believe it. “No, what we need to do is assess the situation more. You didn’t see what happened to him afterwards, did you? Or who the person was that was tending to his wound?” He briefly wondered if it was Peggy who had helped Lafayette. She was the only one to his knowledge that would be able to tend to a wound like that while also getting kids to help her and making a coworker do some work as well.
“No, the crowd was too big. I did see a golf cart leave though. Where, I’m not sure. It’s why we should strike now. He could be anywhere at that park.” Alex tried once more to plead his case. If he could get just Hercules to agree then maybe he could convince Washington.
“Hamilton, we cannot attack yet. We do not know where Lafayette is so to storm the gates of Mermaid Lagoon too early could prove to be detrimental to us. He was not there when I left this evening so I will talk with John in the morning and then see if anyone from the rehab facility knows anything. I’ll let you know tomorrow night of my update. For now, go back home, continue working on the original plans and we will reunite families soon.” Hercules ordered before leaving to head back home.
As he walked by Peggy’s apartment building, he briefly entertained the idea of showing up unannounced. She would either know something or be furious. He shook his head. No, he had to listen to his own advice. He didn’t know all of the details and he couldn’t let Peggy onto anything.
The next morning Hercules made his way over to John’s tank. When the injured mer noticed his friend coming over, he swam to the top of his tank, resting his crossed arms along the edge. “Is this a good surprise or a bad surprise?”
“Bad, I’m afraid. You haven’t heard anything about Lafayette have you?” Hercules leaned against the railing of the walkway.
John’s eyes widened a bit. Not Lafayette. They were slowly taking their whole ranks out and they didn’t even realize it. How were they going to stop this place now? “What happened to Lafayette?”
Hercules took that as a no. Then where on earth could Lafayette be? “He was attacked yesterday. Someone hit him with a harpoon. Alex said he was taken away on a golf cart, I just assumed he would be here.”
“He was hit with what? Who are these people who think they can just do that? Is Washington going to move up the revolt?” John wished that he was in better condition or he would start something here. He had already begun talking to the mers in the rehab center and they were all on board. Now if only he could persuade Peggy in letting him turn his tail into legs.
“You heard right, and no. We don’t know the whole story although Hamilton wants to do just that. Strike sooner but we can’t right now. Not without knowing the full story.” Hercules tighten his grip on the bar momentarily before loosening it. He wished he knew what had happened to his best friend. He hated not knowing. So many different possibilities were now going through his mind. If Lafayette wasn’t here then where could he be?
“And how do you expect to find out the whole story?” John raised an eyebrow.
“I’m going to talk with Peggy and then if she doesn’t know anything I’m going to go speak with the lifeguard that was on duty.”
“Good morning guys!” The woman Hercules just mentioned said as she walked down the walkway. Every morning right after clocking in, she made her rounds with the mers in the rehab center to see how their night was.
“Well, looks like you better figure out how you’re gonna talk to her now.” John mumbled towards Hercules before grinning towards Peggy. “Just the beautiful woman I was looking for!”
“No, John, your tail is not ready to transition yet. We’ve discussed this.” She said, returning his smile with one of her own, causing Hercules to snicker.
Once she reached Hercules side, they wrapped an arm around each other. “Fancy seeing you here.” Peggy said, looking up to Hercules.
“Was just making my rounds before I start cleaning this place up. You have a good night?” He turned to face her, resting his arm against the railing.
“Yeah, it was, uh, pretty uneventful. Can’t really complain too much.” She gave a small shrug, trying to play everything nonchalant. She hoped that he wouldn’t see through it. While they were friends she wasn’t entirely sure if he would turn her in or not if he knew the truth. “How about you?”
“You didn’t hear about the merman injured on the beach?” Hercules asked with a raised eyebrow. A sinking feeling was beginning to settle in his gut. If Peggy didn’t know then that could be bad news.
Peggy shook her head, hoping that her facial expression didn’t give herself away. “I wasn’t called in for anything and I didn’t hear anything on the news. I’ll ask around though.” She gave him a reassuring squeeze as she walked by him.
“Thanks, Peggy.” He called out to her. “Guess I’ll go snoop around some then. I’ll keep you updated with anything I find out.” Hercules promised John as he made his way out of the rehab center.
This was going to be harder than she thought. Her excitement for just being in the rehab center today dwindled. If Hercules was looking for Lafayette then there weren’t many places she could avoid him asking any further questions when she was supposed to remain in the rehab center for her entire shift.
She took a few deep breaths as she stood in front of one of the shelves lining the supply room wall. Opening up her to go medical bag, she began to pick out the items that she needed. She grabbed enough to last them for two weeks and made sure to cover her tracks on the inventory sheet.
Peggy slumped in her office chair, placing the bag underneath her desk as she let out a breath of relief. No one had caught her and no one seemed suspicious either. Maybe she could do this. Either way she needed to do this or Lafayette would be found and she didn’t even want to think of the consequences they both would face.
“So, you sure we can’t give the ol’ legs a try today?” John asked after the laps he just swam.
Peggy rolled her eyes as she patted the spot on the platform next to her. John lifted himself out of the water and sat down next to her, starting to get excited. He thought that she was finally giving in. “Give me your tail.” She ordered, patting her lap to show him where she wanted it.
He did just that, flopping his tail across her legs. He watched as she ran her fingers over the smaller cuts that had turned into scars. His curiosity grew as she nodded in approval but then she went over to where she had to graft some scales to help heal the larger cuts. When she trailed her fingers back towards him, he let out a low hiss at the sharp pain he felt. “That is why we can’t transition your legs yet. Until that completely heals there will be no legs for you.” She told him as she smoothed his scales back.
John groaned, falling back against the platform. “This is the worst.”
“Healing takes time, John. Especially after the injuries you sustained. I’ve had to do multiple scale grafts to even get you where you are right now. Give it another couple of months and then maybe we can have the leg conversation.” Peggy lifted his tail off of her lap so she could spin and lay down next to him.
“What if I don’t have two months?” John asked, nervous about how this could affect his involvement with the revolt.
Peggy looked over at him, raising her eyebrow. “What are you talking about? You definitely have two months unless you’re planning to get out of here before then.”
Oh, if she only knew. He thought, letting out a sigh. “Two months just seems so far away, Pegs.”
“It’ll be here before you know it. Now c’mon let’s do some tail lifts and then we can call it a day.” She tried to encourage as she lifted her legs into the air.
She had never felt more relieved to be at home. She dropped her bags by the front door and hurried to the bathroom. There Lafayette sat as if he was meant to be there. Sure he looked like he overtook the space of the tub but nevertheless it looked like he was meant to be there. “Bonjour, mon cheri! How was your day at work?”
“You know it wasn’t that bad of a day considering I stole supplies and had a friend of mine ask about you. Well, asked about an injured mer.”
“You didn’t tell them did you? And you weren’t caught?”
Peggy shook her head. “No and no. I did however also go to the store and got an aquarium heater so hopefully we don’t have to switch out the water too much.” She hurried back out to the hallway and grabbed everything she needed.
“Peggy, you really didn’t have to do that.” Lafayette said, touched that she would go out of her way to make sure that he was as comfortable as he could be.
She just waved him off as she set to work. “Let’s take a look at these bandages first, shall we?”