Tom was tired. Chris was tired. You know who wasn’t tired? The three kids bouncing around the rooms. Chris wanted to give his wife a break and it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Take the kids with him, tag team with Tom during individual interviews and spent some time with one of his best mates and his kids.
Tom had agreed. It sounded fun. Spending time with this niece was always pleasant. What difference could it really be, being three kids rather then one? What could go wrong? Famous last words. Surprisingly, it was a big difference, having two more children then he was used to. They seemed to feed off each other, running and bouncing and talking amazingly fast. That’s not to say the three were poorly behaved, just that they were young and full of life.
You know who didn’t feel young and full of life at that moment? Tom. Tom felt old, his bones ached and sleeping for a month was sounding appealing.
Chris didn’t feel so young himself as he looked through entertainment listings for child friendly things to do before passing the task off to Tom and joining the ever energetic children. Vegas was not made for kids but there was still a surprising selection. In front of Tom, giggles and laughter filled the room as Chris rough housed with the kids, trying to wear them out.
“Okay, how about dinner?” Chris announced, dropping the twins in a heap on the bed and ordering all small people to wash faces and hands, gather socks and shoes and prepare to leave. Tom was thankful, it was less crazy when they were out in public where they had to behave under the ever watchful eye of possible press.
“Where to?” Tom asked, slipping his own shoes on.
“Pizza?” Chris shrugged. Tom knew he shouldn’t but he didn’t normally make such poor dietary choices and agreed.
The seemingly magical thing about hotels in Las Vegas was that they contained everything. Not just one or two or even three restaurants but over 20 under this roof alone. To be fair, the resorts were huge and many had shop filled halls that ran into each other, making it hard to tell where one hotel began and the other ended.
It was much faster to find a pizza joint by asking the staff then walking the massive expanse of the hotel. The waitstaff cooed over the children, singing praises to the men managing to take charge of them while looking so dignified and refined. If only they knew of the chaos when they were in private. Autographs were signed, pictures were taken and the meal eaten. The men discussed and planed, trying to come up with ways to entertain the kids for the night that didn’t include jumping around a hotel room.
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but overhear. It’s best to ask the locals if you’re wanting to find things for the littles. The internet seems to think all anyone does here is drink, gamble and well…” A black haired waitress spoke softly, a bit rushed as a blush dusted her cheeks. She was young, very young and looked so timid.
“We’ve noticed that problem.” Tom laughs, setting his phone done and locking it, banishing away yet another article of ‘100 fun things to do in Las Vegas!’
“What do you suggest?” Chris asked, doing the same with his phone.
“Do they like mermaids?” The woman chewed at her lip. She must have been just out of high school.
“Who doesn’t like mermaids?” Chris laughed as the kids perked up. The waitress relaxed having the kid’s attentions. They were much less intimidating then talking to Thor and Loki.
“What if I told you guys,” She leaned in, dropping her voice lower as if it was a secret. “that we have a real life mermaid princess, right here and she happens to be a friend of mine?” The two girls squealed in delight, earning more hearty laughter from Chris.
“Where can we find information on the mermaid?” Tom hadn’t found anything as interesting as a mermaid show online.
“She’ll be in the shark tank in about 45 minutes. Tell the staff Maggie sent you and they’ll make sure you get to meet her.
“How much will it be?” Chris asked after directing the kids to eat their pizza.
“Oh no, the mermaid is free, that’s why she didn’t show up in your searches, why promote something that wont bring any money? I’ll let you get on with your meal, I do hope you enjoy the show.” Maggie left them with a smile on her face. Oh yes, Rose was going to kill her but this was worth it. So very worth it.
Rose nearly picked up her phone, still wearing the fish muck covered gloves before she caught herself and wiggled her hand out and answered.
“Maggie, what’s up Kiddo? I’m working a long night so if you need help with Bio you’re on your own.” With the phone pinned between her shoulder and head, Rose slipped the glove back on and set about preparing buckets of food for the many tanks under her care. “What do you mean, a private meet and greet? For who? If it’s a surprise, how do I know who to bring back? You told the kids what?! Fine, fine, no it’s fine. I don’t have a crown or anything. Right, of course you are. I’ll see you in ten. Bring me dinner!”
Maggie had disconnected the call before her last request made it completely out of her mouth. Rose’s hips and legs ached. Earlier it had seemed like a good idea to skip lunch and spend extra time swimming. Not that she didn’t swim enough, Rose spent most of her day swimming in tanks in three different resorts.
Rose groaned when her phone slipped from her shoulder and dropped into a bucket of slop. At least it had a soft landing. Her staff always laughed that she required they all have waterproof phones or at least cases but that was the very reason why. It took no time at all the rinse the phone and set out delegating the night’s feeding. It was amazing how much time was spent feeding the animals.
They still had about 30 minutes before the curtain would open again on the shark tank when Maggie came rushing out the doors and into the sweltering summer heat, holding a bag in her hand. The poor girl was winded but excited just the same.
“So do I get to know what all the fuss is for?” When Maggie just shook her head and pulled out a silver tone tiara with faux diamond accents, Rose sighed, sitting at the edge of the pool. “All I get to know is I’m a princess now and whatever it is, it is worth you sprinting to Excalibur and back?” Maggie set the crown on Rose’s head after freeing her hair from it’s braid.
“It will be worth it, I promise. What tail are you wearing? Wear a nice one, not a fabric one!” Maggie set about weaving bunches of hair around the tiara and securing it in place with delicate braids before gathering half of the hair into a pony tail. Everything was secured in place with special ties that would dissolve quickly in the stomach should they be swallowed.
“The silicone Midnight Beta just came in.” While Rose stripped out of her tank top, Maggie fetched the tail out of the make sift tail closet.
“This thing weighs like 30 pounds, how do you swim in it?!” She complained, struggling not to let it drag on the ground. “Nice top, by the way.” Rose wore a simple but lacy black bikini top with a racer back. It was easier on the shoulders and comfortable with blue accents, matching the blue shine in her newest tail.
“It’s only 20 pounds.” Rose helped straighten the tail after wiggling out of her jeans.
With Maggie’s assistance, Rose slipped her feet into the base of the fin and began working the length of the tail up and over her hips. It always seemed to take forever but the outcome was always worth it. As silicone transitioned to a nylon mesh around her upper hips and the color faded out, giving the tail a more natural transition. Every day she swam in the tanks she maintained to check the health of the creatures in her care but for the kids, she did her job while making their dreams come true.
“Go warm up, I’ll let Mark know who to snag after the show. I figure you can all chill with the pod.” Maggie was grinning like a loon, far too pleased with herself. They referred to the resident small dolphin pod just as 'the pod’ often enough. Rose had known some of the dolphins since they had been born and they were like a family to her. A wet family that liked to splash.
Rose didn’t bother answering, Maggie was already half way across the deck. Instead, she swam with the small pod of bottle nose dolphins, practiced their tricks and fed them treats until her muscles relaxed and she felt ready to face the crowd. With practiced grace, she swam toward the small gated port and gave the sign for it to be opened to allow her to pass. It took some convincing, but over a year ago Rose had convinced the resort that having waterways connecting all the pools would make her life easier. With the use of the water passageways creatures could be moved to a vet quarantine tank without stressing them too terribly much. It was something that likely saved lives, as stress was often fatal to aquatic life.
One gate closed behind her as she passed inside the tunnel, taking a deep breath she descended and made her way through the passage where another gate was opened for her when she surfaced in
front of it. While she was in the shark tank, she was hidden behind one of the many fake coral fixtures. The curtain was already pulled back, it was only ever closed for feeding and emergencies.
Rose took a handful of deep calming breaths, willing her heart rate to slow and relaxed her body and ran her hand along the back of a stingray that had come to greet her. The people on the ground outside the tank far below her wouldn’t have seen her yet, hidden behind a coral fixture.
On a good day, without actively swimming and going about her job, rose could hold her breath for between ten and 15 minutes, depending on how much she prepped for the dive. Today, however, she would be active in the water.
With one last breath, she let go of the gate and kicked off the wall. The act propelled herself down and into view. Back and forth, she swam laps as she descended down the depths of the main tank, in front of the main viewing window allowing everyone to see her as she twisted and span. Rose kept a quick pace, not bothering yet to look at the spectators. Sometimes there were many, sometimes there were few- it didn’t matter to her.
With a twist and a flip, she dove in a shallow tunnel and gathered a breath from the air supply hose. With more flips and circles, she artfully put on a show while working all 1,300,000 gallons of the tank. No carcasses, no excessive waste, no signs of damage. More twirls and flips, more secret breaths and more inspection of creatures and enclosure alike. Work first, then the real show would start.
Outside the tank, Tom, Chris and the children were captivated from the moment the mermaid came into sight. Mark, the man who greeted them and took them to what he promised was the best place to watch, right against the glass where they could see most of the tank, tucked into a corner that gave some privacy.
Tom assumed that since he himself was an actor and this was anything but a high budget performance that he would be mildly impressed but no, when she came into view he was captivated by her with nothing less then childlike wonder. It shouldn’t have been surprising, he had been a part of many theater productions over the years, he knew that cinema budgets and effects were not always needed to make magic. Yet he was indeed surprised and impressed.
Blond hair danced behind her as she swam. Overhead lights danced and reflected on her hair, skin and tail. That tail, it was magnificent. It was hard to say what he expected, but this was not it. The fin trailed behind her elegantly as it seemed to be just as fluid as the water around her. It was long, paired with what appeared to be silken fabrics that seemed to dance as she moved, highlighting the graceful movements.
Tom was suddenly sure that if mermaids were real, they would dress and adorn the base of their tail because it looked so right. The tail itself was dark, the fin just showed the hint of swirls of deep purples and blues, matching the fabrics that trailed around it. The tail itself was nearly black, yet each scale seemed to shine, blues and purples as light played off of them. The underbelly of the tail was lighter, almost a purer blue.
When she swam passed them, They could see that even as the scales moved up over her hips, they became sparse and translucent until they were gone and her simple human belly was left unadorned. Light waved and illuminated the tiara on her head as she danced around corals and through tunnels, her hand petting over sharks and stingrays alike. The mermaid swam along side a massive sea turtle and paid no mind to sharks who’s bodies were nearly four feet long.
“She’s not scared of the sharks?” A child nearby asked in amazement.
“They know her, trust her and she them.” Mark spoke, finally beginning a small presentation. “They won’t harm her unless they feel threatened. Our resident Mermaid cares for all of our aquatic creatures and with her help, we strive to provide the best environment for all our friends possible.”
“Why do you have a mermaid princess? Shouldn’t she be in the ocean?” It was Chris’ oldest who voiced the question.
“She loves the surface world and in exchange for helping us, she gets to learn more about life on the surface.” Mark channeled the Little Mermaid for that answer. No one really asked that one before, children typically just accepted that along with fish, dolphins, turtles and sharks, they would have a tank for a mermaid because why not?
“She’s not a real mermaid, dummies.” Said a older boy just far enough away. “She’s just a pretend. Like how they pretend to be Thor and Loki.” The actors had been spotted and recognized, even in their somewhat private spot.
“I think she’s very clearly a real mermaid.” Tom spoke up with a smile, not letting his eyes leave the beautiful creature for more then a moment. “How long has she been in?”
“Going on ten minutes” Mark answered.
“If she was just an actress, she would have had to surface for air by now.” Tom nodded to the boy, as an actor himself, he would know. “Clearly, she is the real deal.” Tom had no idea how she did it.
After twenty minutes, the crowd began thinning and new comers started to filter in. Mark assured them that they show was best right before the end. No matter what she was doing at the moment, the kids were pressed up against the glass.
“So what is she doing?” Chris asked Mark, soft enough that the kids wouldn’t hear them talk about her as a normal person.
“Being a mermaid princess.” Mark laughed before continuing, “She’s checking the enclosure for damage, checking the animals for basic health and injuries and checking for any dead or excessive waste.
“A lot of responsibility for someone who does a mermaid show.” Chris knew full well that that type of work normally would belong to someone with much more schooling then he assumed being a mermaid required.
“The show came second, she’s been here longer then the show. Don’t underestimate her.” Mark smiled. Everyone always thought she was just a pretty face but he knew better.
“I still can’t figure out how she does it. We’ve been here for over half a hour and she still hasn’t surfaced.”
“It’s because she’s a mermaid.” One of the children piped up, earning laughs from the group.
“Mermaids are like dolphins and whales.” Mark began the lecture anew as the mermaid swam along the sandy bottom, ducking into a tunnel and coming out the other side. “They breath the air and do have to surface from time to time. No one knows how often a mermaid has to surface however. Typically a mermaid only seems to vocalize above water, though sometimes you can hear them under the surface.
Tom had to admit, Mark seemed to have a never ending supply of mermaid 'facts’. Mark waved them closer to the glass as they watched her approach a group not too far from them and rest her hand on the glass. It was nearing an hour into the swim now. Small children clamored to get closer and parents snapped pictures of their kids with the mermaid behind them.
Mark instructed them to wait, that they wouldn’t have to fight the crowd of they stayed put. She would come to them. With a flip and a twirl, the mermaid ducked behind a coral, playing a slight game of 'peek a boo’ before returning to the group at the glass and when she blew them a kiss, it exploded in a ring of bubbles against the glass much to the delight of everyone.
Slowly, Rose worked her way along the wall, looking for Mark who would be with her special guests. Smiling she flipped and twisted, peeking out from behind rocks where she stole much needed breaths. Her knees and hips were starting to ache again, this wasn’t her first swim of the day but the shark tank was the most fun. Bubble kisses and bubble hearts were sent to children who’s eyes showed nothing but joy. Occasionally she would blow a ring of bubbles and swim through it, before circling back around and swimming through the large 'sunken ship’ fixture where she would hide for a short spell to catch her breath in a hidden air pocket. The air hoses were find and dandy but it was nice to breath normally before going to the last section of the tank where she was sure Mark would be waiting.
One last deep breath and out she swam, doing a flip she swam belly out along the glass, letting all see the tail she paid way too much for. It performed amazingly so she couldn’t complain, however she would make a few slight modifications to the inner fin to make it more comfortable. Finally, she set eyes on Mark who waved at her. Glare on the glass obscured the guests from her place but she had a target to swim toward at least. One flip and circle around a coral for a quick breath and she set about swimming up to them. For dramatics sake, she swam along the bottom, feeling the soft sand shift under her wake.
Rose intended to swim, belly up the glass and do a slow flip where her face would be framed by the fabric dancing off the fin but almost froze when she saw them. It was luck that she managed to avoid hitting herself with the fin. While the smaller man could easily go unrecognized by someone only knowing him from his work with Marvel, Chris Hemsworth was unmistakable. Mark grinned, catching the falter in the flip and Rose made a mental note to splash him later.
Slowly, as she straightened from her flip, she placed her hand against the glass as she always did for the kids to reach out and match their hands to hers. Chris was ready and eager to take pictures of his three kids. All in the party grinned wide, adults and children alike. Rose smiled at the kids as she made a heart with her hands, hovering over her own heart. The older girl copied her, bringing a large smile to Rose’s face.
Rose did another big loop, passing just out of sight to snag a breath before blowing an explosive bubble kiss a the kids who seemed to radiate pure joy. It was something that never got old, no matter how long she did the mermaid shows. Rather, it seemed to just get better with each new tail.
Slowly she drifted up as Chris knelt with his kids. Blonde hair floated darkly around her, dancing in the slight current as her eyes met his.
Tom Hiddleston. She had seen many of his works and knew him on sight. He was scruffy, but not bearded currently and his hair was a controlled mess of light curls cut shorter on the sides. The showy smile she wore for the kids morphed to a small smile of shock and joy.
Being a mermaid for Chris and his kids was enough of a dream but never in her life did she expect to swim for Tom. Chris had kids, it kind of made sense but Tom, never would she have guessed. He wore a look of childlike wonder just the same as any kid standing at the tank glass. When she reached out and rested her hand on the glass, he slowly did the same with a wide smile. As her mind took a short vacation, Rose wondered if what they said about him was true, if he was really just a really tall five year old boy. He didn’t look like a boy even though he wore a boyish grin.
They stayed like that for a moment, not paying attention to those around them before a stingray ruined her moment. Rose wondered what barbecued stingray would taste like when the creature dumbly swam into the side of her head, demanding attention. They were like sea puppies sometimes.
Breaking her eyes away from Tom’s blue, she swam after the offensive creature, tickling under it’s belly as it lead her into a flip. In her annoyance, she nearly whacked herself in the head with the heavy fin for a second time but was pleased when the ray finally swam away content and she turned to her special guests again. Tom’s hand still rested on the glass and Rose was ever so happy to walk her fingers up from the children and Chris before resting her palm again over Tom’s. For a moment, Rose wondered what he was thinking.
The need for a fresh breath and ache in her legs however, told her she was in need of a break. All in all, she had been in the tank for a hour and a half. With the hand not on the glass, she quickly signaled to Mark that she would be leaving the tank momentarily. Rose sank down and waved at the three children as Chris stood. Again, she placed her palm against the glass, this time for Chris and he matched hers with a laugh. Even distorted through the glass and muffled, she could just hardly hear the booming sound and she almost laughed with him. Laughing under water was not a good idea. With careful flips to gather air, Rose sent small bubble kisses to the three children and their father before grabbing a lungful of air again.
Finally, she floated up to Tom again as Mark spoke to Chris. With a parting smile she backed a bit away and brought her hands to her mouth and delivered him a kiss, blown in a ring full of bubbles and meant only for him. She watched as a delighted laughed shook his body but the sound was too distorted and muffled to really hear.
As rose swam off, relaxed, twirling and spilling in the process while ignoring her body’s cry for air as she had expelled most of it in the kiss, she smiled to herself. Tonight, she would spend as long in her tail with the children as they wanted, even if it dragged late into the night. Tonight, for as long as they wanted, she would be their mermaid. She would be Tom’s mermaid.
With a quick hand sign, she gave the order for the first gate to be opened. Once inside, she shooed a stingray back out and it closed, allowing the other to open. Rose ignored the grumble of her stomach and swam through the tunnel as her body cried for air she was being simply to lazy to give it.
Outside the second gate, she finally surfaced with a gasping breath. It wasn’t often she dove for that long on a breath, but it did her well to stay in the habit. Maybe next time she wouldn’t spend so much time with nearly empty lungs however. One could never know when a air hose could fail and she could need to go farther then expected for her next breath. With nothing else to do, she turned onto her back and floated, waiting for the bell to sound that would inform her that the door had been opened.
Tom was mesmerized when the mermaid directed her attention to his group. He hardly heard the cries of delight from the kids as she swam about interacting with them. Never once, did he see her break surface. He couldn’t figure out how she did it but he knew she had to be getting air somehow but she was never out of sight for what seemed to be a few seconds.
He had assumed that she would focus her attentions on the children and hadn’t counted on being caught watching her so intently. When she floated up from the children, their eyes met and he couldn’t help but grin. He didn’t remember moving closer to the glass, but when she reached out and rested her palm on the hard surface, he did the same, just as the children did.
She had crystal blue eyes, as light as the sky outside. When he looked down, he tried to spot where the tail ended and her skin began but couldn’t. They stayed like that for what felt like too long yet at the same time, not nearly long enough. Tom knew he couldn’t hold his breath that long but she didn’t move or show any signs of distress. Their moment was comically interrupted as a stingray swam into her head. It was magically, perfectly imperfect. To his side, Chris pocketed his phone with a laugh as the mermaid swam after the creature, agitation clear even in the graceful arching of her body as she worked through the water.
“You’re having as much fun as the kids.” Chris remarked. “I got a good shot of you with her too.”
Before Tom could defend himself, she was back, waving, smiling and blowing airy kisses to the children. She would dart away and return and eventually offered her palm to Chris. The children urged him to put his palm up and he did as wished. His hand was so much larger then hers. After a few beats with Chris, she returned her attention to him and offered her palm. Tom matched it just the same with a smile as Mark spoke with Chris.
“She’ll be surfacing in a minute and heading to the dolphin pools. We have life vests and spare swim gear, if the group would like to swim with them?” Chris nodded and thanked the man but Tom’s attention stayed with the mermaid who drifted back, a vision of elegance as her hair floated around her.
When they locked eyes again, she dramatically drew her hands to her mouth and blew him a kiss surrounded by a ring of bubbles that washed against the glass. Tom couldn’t help but laugh at the display as she swam away.
While he played magic on movie sets, she had to be magic in the flesh, Tom decided they followed Mark through the hotel. Her display for them had been no different then what she did for the other guests, yet Tom wondered if she knew who they were. She did spend longer interacting with them at the window but she would do that for anyone who was a special guest. He was left to his thoughts of the magical mermaid as the children talked their father’s ear off, clearly just as captivated by her as he himself was.
Everyone was excited to meet the mermaid. Mark had took them into a room to change and recommended unless their phones were waterproof to leave them far away from the water’s edge. It was a old standard warning, more and more people had waterproof phones, Tom and Chris both included.
The sound of the bell over the door woke Rose from her light doze. Getting so relaxed was a bad idea, her joints felt stiff as she turned off her back and pulled her lower half down into the water. Everyone was dressed in water gear, good. With a breath, Rose slowly sank under the water before she was spotted and signaled two dolphins to her side. Now was the time for payback, even if it had collateral damage.
In between the two Dolphins, she mimicked how they swam, rising out of the water in a wave, letting her tail catch the light as she dove back under the water just to repeat the action. Each time she surfaced, she snagged a breath and a look, lining up with the group now watching from the pool’s edge. As they reached the edge, she and the two dolphins dove low and surfaced in a flip that landed Rose tail up in the water. Rather than righting herself in any graceful or elegant way, she slammed her tail down while giving the sign for the dolphins to spit water at the target.
Today, the target was Mark who after the dolphin’s assault and the wave created by her fin slapping the water, was well and truly drenched. Chris and the twins fared better but still ended up a bit soggy as they laughed in delight. Rose surfaced, ignoring the pain in her ankle from her splashing stunt. There was a part of the inner fin she made a mental note to trim later.
“Rose, What was that for?!” Mark cried as he wiped water off his face before pointing at the dolphins who began backing away to escape and play. “You two, you are traitors!”
“Dear Sir, please forgive me. Tis but only how a mermaid greets their friends.” Rose chuckled as she spoke. “Now, I hear I have some special guests. Would you three be those who wished an audience with me?” Her attention was now wholly on the kids.
They chattered a bit and soon, everyone was in the water. While they were busy petting the dolphins she freed her hair from the ties, slipping them around her wrist for safe keeping and set her tiara on the edge of the pool where it glittered in the sun.
Chris, Tom and the kids all joined her in the water. Rose told stories of the ocean and the places she had swam, artfully mixing fantasy with reality as she edited her research travels into magical stories of mermaid pods and undersea kingdoms.
With tiny arms around her neck, Rose gave mermaid rides where dolphins swam at their sides. The whole area was full of laughter as the children urged their father to take a “Mermaid ride”, earning a deep blush from the adults. Rose had been so focused on the children that it was easy enough to almost forget about the two very attractive men.
“I’m too big!” Chris protested. “Too heavy. It’d be mean to make her pull me around.”
“Want to bet, big guy?” Rose knew full well that her legs would be jelly before long but how could she pass the chance to show off? It was a once in a lifetime chance. Additionally, she didn’t like anyone assuming she couldn’t do anything. Even if it was something as stupid as pulling around a man who was twice her size in nearly every way. She swam up and presented her back to him as large arms wrapped around her sounders. “Relax and keep your legs to the side. Hold your breath when I say and tap when you need air.”
Before Chris could question, Rose was off with strong strokes of her tail they surged through the water, not nearly as fast as she could with the kids. Occasionally, Chris’ legs got in the way and he would get a powerful whack from the fin. The man grinned with his own delight at the ride and almost forgot to hold his breath when instructed. In a swift motion they surged up and forward, diving down under the surface.
Rose twisted and turned, spinning their bodies as Chris clutched to her shoulders. Rose didn’t wait for him to tap for air, rather she surfaced them in front of the rock cluster Tom and the children were resting on when his hand lifted from her shoulder. The cool of the water tamed her blush, Even if Chris wasn’t her type, he was still a fine looking, wet man pressed up on her.
“See, a mermaid is stronger then she looks.” Rose laughed as Chris climbed onto the rocks and tickled his tired children.
“That was fun, I’ll admit that. Tom, you should take a ride too!” He nudged his friend and laughed when a flush covered his cheeks. Tom cursed double meanings while sliding off the rock. Rose dove under the water and flipped three times, allowing the cool waters to calm her heated face while she prayed that no one caught her blush.
“If you don’t mind?” Tom smiled at her when she surfaced, right in front of him and she nearly cursed herself when she almost gasped in water.
“No, no, tis what a Mermaid Princess does.” Presenting her back to him, she hoped Chris and the kids wouldn’t see the flush on her face as it bloomed anew. The sly smile Chris shot them however, did nothing to convince her that she had him fooled. “Arms around the shoulders, please try not to strangle me. Keep your legs off to the side unless you want some new bruises that would be hard to explain.”
“Like this?” Rose’s mind went blank when Tom got into position. He was so firm against her and long. Really, both men were so similar in height but Tom felt longer. It was a trick of perception since he was so much leaner. Chris, she felt confident diving with, he was well known for his love of water but with Tom she wanted to make sure to keep him safe. If she accidentally drowned him, she wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of his future works, after all. Rose realized she didn’t actually answer him.
“Yeah, that’s good.” God damn was it good, she could feel his muscles work as he moved his legs to help keep above water. This was a good day to be a mermaid. A very good day. “How are you with diving and holding your breath?”
“Diving is fine. I’m not sure how long I can go however, not nearly as long as you.” Strands of her hair danced around him and when it brushed against him in the water, her hair felt like liquid silk.
“Okay, so when I say to hold your breath, take a deep breath and hold it. Tap my shoulder when you need air and we’ll surface. Don’t wait till the last second.” As he breathed, she could feel his breath washing over her neck, shoulder and passed her ear. When he nodded his understanding, she took off.
He was much easier to pull then Chris, much lighter and being less bulky, he dragged easier through the water. When she would glace over her shoulder at him, a wide toothy grin was plastered across his face. Chris and the children were swimming their way to the edge of the pool and so Rose swam by them, raising her tail out of the water to splash them on the way by.
“Ready to go down?” She didn’t so much feel his nod as she did his chest expand, filling with a large breath of air. When it didn’t contract again, she dove under.
Swirling, her hair danced around them. Down, down she took them while being ever mindful of the time. Strong legs propelled them around the coral and rock formations as she brought her hands up to hold onto his forearms. As she turned, swimming on her back and letting him see the world above them as she so often saw it. When she glanced at him and their eyes met. This was truly the most amazing day of her life, to share this with a man she had respected and admired for so long, even if he wouldn’t remember her name after a few days. It may not mean much to him in the grandness of his life, but she felt truly blessed as she took them to the surface and reluctantly let go of his arms.
The evening flew by and soon the sun was well set and the children rested at the pool edge. She showed them dolphin tricks and told more stories as the evening turned to night. Rose slipped her tiara off the pool edge and rested it on the eldest child’s head.
“I dare say, it looks better on you!” The little girl’s face was cut with a large smile.
They played and talked until after 9pm. The twins had fallen off into sleep on a beach chair and the remaining child was nearly following. Mark brought over a cart, padded and adorned with seaweed, flowers and shells, earning a groan from Rose.
“We still have that ugly thing?” Rose couldn’t help but laugh as Mark smiled cheekily, knowing full well he was to trash the monstrosity when the last tunnel was finished and never did.
“You can use it to cart the kids up to your room, just leave it outside and someone will bring it back” Mark offered and before long, three sleeping children were placed luggage cart turned mermaid bench.
“Or put a sign on it that says 'burn me’, that would work too.” Rose hated that thing.
“Thank you, Miss Mermaid Rose, for everything today. They will remember this for a long time. It means a lot to them and me.” Chris spoke with sincerity that made it clear that his family was the most important thing in the world to him. The children’s joy was his joy.
“Rose. Just Rose for you two.” She had let them call her 'Mermaid’, 'Princess’ and 'Highness’ as that was what she was to them.
“Thank you, Rose.” With a nod, Chis spoke again. “I should get them to bed. You coming Mate?” Tom didn’t rise from the waters when he spoke.
“I’m going to rest here for a bit, I think my legs are dead. I’ll see you in the morning.” With a nod, Chris left them and Tom finally felt comfortable to ask the questions he had been trying to figure out all day as he sat on the pool edge, feet and shins in the water. “How do you do it?”
“Do what?” With a smile, Rose looked up at him from where she rested, arms draped over the pool edge.
“Stay under for so long. I can’t figure it out.” When she laughed at him, Tom felt silly for asking. “I understand if it’s a trade secrete.”
“Have you ever been scuba diving?” The look on Tom’s face showed he didn’t follow but he nodded just the same. “Dive with me, and I’ll show you.”
“I can’t believe you’re not tired.” Tom himself felt spent from all the swimming. All he got in response was a smile as she slipped into the water and presented her back to him.
From his place, he could just see the blush that dusted her cheeks as she told him to take a deep breath and to trust her. So he did and down they went. Down and around to the rocks, down along the pillars before she stopped and with sure hands, motioned for him to let go of her. She looked magnificent, under the water in front of him, hair dancing around and silk fabrics billowing around her fin.
With one hand firmly on his bicep to keep him from floating up or away, she motioned to the rocks where she pulled a mesh fabric back, revealing a air hose and regulator. With the press of a button, a stream of bubbles erupted before she handed it to him and Tom took a few needy breaths. What surprised him was that she did not, rather she grabbed him and dived farther down and away from the rocks as he moved back into place, holding her around her shoulders.
When they stopped this time, she pulled a regulator from a mess of fake seaweed and handed it to him. Again, she did not breath herself and Tom was starting to wonder if she was actually human at all. A third regulator was shown in some decorative coral along the wall and again, while he breathed, she did not. Finally, they surfaced. Rose couldn’t help but gasp for a large breath of air and silently remind herself that showing off like that could get her killed.
“Okay, that’s how I could do it but you didn’t breath.” Tom pointed the obvious out, even as he didn’t let go of her and she laughed. It was a magical sound, raspy a bit with the need of air but it was free and sounded like bells.
“I can go ten to 15 minutes.” Rose admitted as she slowly pulled them to the edge of the pool. “It’s a part of the training. My body is just used to it after all these years.”
“That’s amazing.” Tom admitted, pulling himself out of the water. “I couldn’t even begin to fathom the training just to be a mermaid.”
“You train for your roles, do you not?” Rose pointed out. “And I’m not just a mermaid. I do this for fun, this is the side job.” A laugh softened the message but it was clear to Tom that he had done what many must of done, wrote her off as just a mermaid.
“True. What is the main job?” With a splash, she pulled herself partially out of the water only to slide back in with a huff.
“Marine Biologist.” Rose admitted, trying again to get out of the pool. “All the tanks are my responsibility, here and in a few other resorts. It’s more fun for the kids if I inspect them dressed like this. Scuba gear is pretty boring to look at.”
The third time she tired to pull herself from the water, she almost made it but managed to splash Tom well and good in the process. “Could I give you a hand?”
“Yes, please?” With her joints feeling like jelly, she was well and truly stuck in the water and swimming to the ramp on the other side of the pool didn’t sound like fun. Nor did figuring out how to shimmy out of the tail on her own but one thing at a time.
Tom reached down and with a firm grip around her arms, drew her up and out of the water. As he pulled her up, his arms moved around her back for a better grip. In the process, he pulled her to his chest while dragging the tail out and over the edge of the pool. He didn’t set her down, didn’t take her to a seat. For a moment, he just stood, holding a mermaid to his chest as water slicked down their bodies and the warm night air surrounded them. Tom was supporting all of her weight, with her knees unhinged and bent behind her, she was unable to support herself without awkwardly flopping the tail around in front of her and she still wouldn’t be able to walk.
“Thank you.” It was Rose who broke the silence, looking away. “Sorry to get you wet all over again.”
“It’s no trouble.” With the moment broken, Tom helped her to sit on the pool edge, wide enough to double as a bench and sat next to her and motioned to the tail. “This is truly amazing. Even out of the water, I can hardly see where the tail starts.”
“It better be, lord knows this sucker cost me an arm, a leg and half my soul.” While she tired to tell herself not to blush while Tom looked intently to her abdomen, telling herself that he was looking at the tail.
“Thank you, Rose.” Tom spoke softly, seriously. “ You made everyone’s night, tonight. I’d have never imagined doing this, never dreamed of it but you made it happen. You, darling, are amazing. Never did I think I’d swim with a mermaid.”
Just a ghost of a feeling gave away that Tom had rested his hand on her thigh, over the tail. She tried to tell herself that he probably had no sense of where his hand was, her whole lower half was covered in silicone.
“Never did I think I would swim with the God of Thunder or Jonathan Pine.” Rose smiled up at him as his eyes widened.
“Not Loki?” Normally people always tied him to Loki. If someone knew Chris as Thor, he would be tied as Loki.
“You don’t look much like Loki like this. More like Pine, for sure. Not that I can’t see Loki, you’re just not that pale and without the dark hair.” Oh god she was rambling. Alone with Tom fucking Hiddleston and she was rambling. “Sorry.”
“No, no! It’s fine, really. I was just surprised.” It was nice to be seen as something other then Loki. For so many now, he was just Loki. “I was starting to think you didn’t know who we were.” Tom admitted and she laughed at him.
“I don’t live underwater, Tom. I just spend most of my days there. Occasional they roll in a TV for the resident mermaid to watch.” She admitted, half joking and looking away. Suddenly she felt so much below him, just a fan.
“Yet you look so perfectly in place, perfectly beautiful, underwater.” The words drew her eyes back to him. She could just feel his thumb rubbing along the silicone scales on her upper thigh. He had to have known where his hand was, the tail creased and folded where her legs bent at the hips, just a few short inches above his hand. She was leaning back, out of habit to prevent the tail from pinching her and so, he was twisted to face her.
“Thank you.” The words were just a breath, almost inaudible. Soon, they were sitting in silence. Rose didn’t know what else to say as she started to drown in his ocean blue eyes. They were a pure blue, unlike anything she had seen. Pictures hadn’t ever done them justice.
He turned to face her better, drawing his hand up her outer thigh and over the curve of her hip. The silicone was thinner there, and she could feel the warmth and pressure of his hand clearer as he softly gripped her, holding her in place. Heat radiated off him as he hovered over her, supporting his weight on his outstretched arm.
When her heart felt like it would beat out of her chest, Rose contemplated diving back into the water to escape but with how tired she was, how sore she was, she would likely drown even if she wasn’t trying to have a heart attack. Additionally, whatever it was that was happening, she didn’t not want it to happen. Head and heart both were overwhelmed as she took him in. Stubble dusted his face and a light tan complemented his features well, even as they stood out sharp. When her eyes returned to his, she just caught the flicker of his eyes from where they were downcast. Perhaps he took in her whole appearance again. As he moved closer to her, his eyes, dropping again she was sure he was looking at her lips.
Breath hitched in her chest as she tilted her head up to him. Painfully slowly, he descended on her as his hand finally moved from her hip to where it rested in the curve of her waist. When he was a breath away, her eyelids fell to nothing but slits and she wondered if his did the same. A heartbeat later, his lips ghosted over hers and she stopped wondering for a moment.
His lips were soft and just as sweet as the kiss. Tom’s thumb rubbed softly on her skin and when she didn’t pull away, Tom pressed himself firmer against her lips and breathed a sigh. When she shifted her position, he made to pull back but she followed him, not letting their lips part. Softly, Rose brought her hand around and rested it on Tom’s forearm before allowing it to slowly trail up.
Tom was surprised that she didn’t push him away. He supposed he shouldn’t be, she was a fan. On that note, he also shouldn’t be kissing her, because she was a fan. Yet the whole time, she had treated him as if he was just a man, causing him to doubt himself as any man would in her presence. Softly, her hand ran up his arm and across his back. Fingers played with the curls at the back of his neck as Tom’s arm snaked around her back, pulling her to him.
The change of position caused her elbow to buckle under her weight but Tom supported her just the same and so another arm snaked up his arm to rest on his chest. She could feel the strain of muscles as he leaned her back slowly, resting her on the hard surface as he nibbled at her lower lip. When she gasped, his tongue darted inside to explore. The kiss turned hungry, passionate and Rose was left cursing her tail as it held her legs awkwardly together when she wanted nothing more then to run her leg up his, to hook an ankle around his back, to pull him as close as she could. Finally, they parted and Tom gazed down at her.
“I had never expected to kiss a mermaid.” With a smile he kissed her again, pressing himself into her for a passionate moment before pulling back. He wanted nothing more then to do it again. Rose wanted nothing more then to let him.
“Fairy tails do happen.” If she was talking about him kissing a mermaid or her kissing an actor, Tom couldn’t be sure. Maybe both. Probably both. The heavy blush on her cheeks looked right at place and he found himself wanting to keep her flushed. It was a good look on her. A great look on her.
“What would a man have to do to be blessed to take a lovely sea creature to dinner?” Tom asked, motivated by the rumble of her stomach announcing its own need.
“You, kind Sir, need but only to ask. And maybe help me out of this thing.” Rose laughed as she began rolling down the mesh that hugged her lower waist, then the silicone over her hips.
“You just roll it off?” Tom asked, tugging and folding the material down as it fought to keep in place. He expected some sort of fasteners, a zipper maybe. Something?
“It’s not easy on, easy off. That’s why I’ve been trapped in it for the last four hours or so.” Rose admitted with a laugh. In truth, she badly needed to pee and wasn’t wholly sure her legs could support walking right away. Plus, she missed dinner, was starving and Tom asked her to dinner. Did he mean tonight? She was assuming so, but it was so late. With a deep breath, she reminded herself to stop over thinking. Overthinking was bad.
Once her legs were free from the tail, Tom adverted his eyes after quickly taking in her legs. It felt like he was seeing a hidden part of her with the tail gone, a special part of her. It felt intimate, even as she wore a conservative bikini. She wore just a bikini and he had seen many a pair of legs but with her, it seemed so different.
Instead of allowing the awkwardness to linger, her offered her a hand and helped her to her feet. Rose’s knees buckled nearly instantly and her ankles screamed in pain as she fell against him, where she was encircled by his strong arms that held her up.
“Are you okay?” Worry tinged his voice.
“Just a bit wobbly, I’ve been swimming too long.” Rose laughed as she looked up at him. It was a strange day to be a mermaid. Tom leaned down and kissed her before taking her legs out from under her.
“Lead the way, Dear Princess.” Today was a good day to be a mermaid. Today was a good day to visit Vegas. Today was a good day.