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Sea Glass

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The air is filled with noise, from the screech of gulls to the shouts of merchants trying to push their wares onto the people milling about. The noise is almost as overwhelming as the smell. The stench of dead fish and refuse drowns out most of the salty scent of the sea that blows in on the breeze. My face scrunches up, eyes watering as I try not to gag. Definitely not the best impression one can have on their first visit to a port town.

“Oi, quit tryn’ ta puke up yer breakfast and get a move on!”

I jump at my boss’s booming voice and stammer out an apology, tugging the pack horse forward again. My boss, Mr. Evans, shakes his head and goes on ahead towards the docks. Mr Evans is a very robust man who is very harsh with his help, but can really lay the praise on thick if he thinks he’s got a high paying customer. Of course, as a jewelry crafter, he really only has rich customers. So he’s basically just an asshole to most people. The only reason he’s kept me around so long, is because he didn’t have to teach me to read or write. It also helped that I was a quick study with arithmetic.

Fighting through the crowd, I try to keep an eye on where Mr Evans is going. We came into town hoping to obtain passage to Ireland. Mr. Evans is trying to find a new supplier of silver, and left his store in the care of his other apprentices. He only brought me along to help transport supplies and anything he might want to purchase along the way.

It will probably take a month tops before we get back home, the boat ride taking up the majority of our trip. I get to the wharf and look around for my boss, I lost sight of him briefly and don’t know which ship he went to. Mr Evans needs to find his contact who agreed to take us along in exchange for a favour or two. After a moment of looking around, I finally spot him three docks to the left near a medium sized trade ship. There are many sailors already loading it up with supplies while Mr. Evans’s friend barks orders at them. I tug on the horse’s reigns and cluck to get him moving forward and weave my way through the crowd again. The air is much clearer next to the sea and I take the time to breathe deeply, clearing my lungs of the foul air.

“Enjoying the sea boy?”

Startled by the question, I stop and whip around to see a woman enshrouded in a heavy brown cloak. Her hood is pulled up over wavy ebony hair, casting a shadow over her olive skin. She stands a few centimetres higher than me, and I have to tilt my head up a bit to meet her gaze. I can’t really tell how old she is. She looks young in the face, but something about her gives me a feeling that she isn’t all that she appears to be. Maybe it’s her eyes. I think they’re grey, but they seem to shimmer like crystals and seem to peer straight into my soul. I frown slightly, her question finally registering.

“I’m 20.”

Her smile widens, giving me a look that seemed to say that her opinion hadn’t changed with that fact. It was only for a moment, but I swear that I could see razor sharp fangs behind her lips before disappearing again. Before I have a chance to think, the strange woman motions towards the rolling waves.

“The sea offers much more than just a sweet breeze and food for you to eat. It is a place that contains great beauty and wonders.”

I perk up at this, chest buzzing with excitement. I lean a bit closer, like it will help me hear her better. I’ve always liked hearing about new things, and I may as well find out what I can expect on this trip.

“Really? Have you traveled out to sea often? What’s it like? I’ve never seen it before today. I-”

I abruptly stop when she laughs. I feel my face heat with embarrassment and I stammer out an apology. She shakes her head and brings her left hand up to cup my face. She gives me a gentle look and strokes her thumb over my cheekbone, where a cluster of freckles are.

“I’m afraid mere words could never do it justice child. It is simply something you must see with your own eyes.”

“I-I see.”

The conversation peters out and the sounds of the wharf make themselves known again. I glance back out to the waves, and let myself imagine what she may have seen on her travels. Her hand drops from my cheek and I hear a rustling of fabric.

“Tell me boy, can you swim?”

I turn back to see her holding up a green ball, no larger than a marble, resting in the palm of her hand. I don’t think it’s made of glass though, it seems to be made of ground plants. A pill maybe? I look back up to her strange eyes and shake my head, murmuring out a negative. I don’t know why she’s asking me this, no one I know can.

“Take this pill with you boy. Keep it safe on your journey. It will help should you fall into the water.”

I look back down and pluck it from her hand. I inspect it closer and give it a sniff. It smells like the ocean air, only stronger. My nose tingles from the stench of salt and herbs, and I roll it between my fingers. It doesn’t stain my fingers, so maybe dried? It feels solid like stone, which is odd for a pill made from plants.

“What will it do exact-”

I look up to find myself alone amongst the crowd once more. Confused, I look around trying to spot her. It’s no use though, there’s too many people and she seems to have just disappeared into thin air.

“Midoriya! Get your ass over here!”

I yelp and rush over to Mr. Evans, absently slipping the pill into my breast pocket. Mr Evans is red in the face when I jog up to him, looking ready to burst a vessel. He scowls, but doesn’t say anything to me. He just motions to his friend and another sailor who is standing beside him.

“This is Captain Cordon and his First Mate Shinsou.”

“N-nice to meet you.”

I greet both of them and they nod in return. The captain is a very tall and burly man, scars littering his weather worn skin. His hair is a sandy colour, likely bleached that way from all the sun.

“Shinsou will show you where to put your supplies and the horse. After that, he’ll give you the rest of the tour.”

Captains’ voice is as gruff as his appearance. I look towards my boss and he just waves me off before I can say anything.

“I’ve still got stuff to settle here boy, now get.”

I bow my head to him and jog after the man called Shinsou. He’s at about half a metre taller than me and is very compact, muscle wise. His lavender hair is as wild as my own, and he looks really tired with dark bags under his eyes. From what I saw earlier, he also has a slight overbite. He turns his head to me once I catch up with him near the ramp.

“We’re going below deck, that’s where everything is pretty much kept. That horse skittish?”

I look between him and the animal, confused. He sighs and rubs at his temple.

“Let me rephrase, has that horse ever been on a ship before?”

“I don’t think so?”

He nods and then pulls a large rag from his back pocket.

“Right, we’ll have to blindfold him then.”

I scrunch my eyebrows and tilt my head to the right.

“Why?”

His grey eyes flick down to meet mine.

“Livestock that aren’t used to sea travel often spook when crossing the ramps to get on and off the boats. Blindfolding them makes it so they can’t see the water, which is usually what scares them.”

To accentuate his point, he taps the ramp with the tip of his worn black boot. I hum in understanding, and hold the horses head still while Shinsou wraps and secures the cloth around his eyes. Once done, we carefully lead him up and onto the boat with minimal fuss. Shinsou removes the cloth once on the deck, then leads us below deck through a large hatch. We both remain quiet as we go down to the bottom layer of the boat, where some sheep are being kept. There is hay spread across the floor, and a wooden trough half filled with water placed along the far wall. We both work at taking the tackle and baggage off the horse, and I go ahead and give him a treat before letting him wander around the room.

I turn back to Shinsou, who has already shouldered a few of the bags. There’s another sailor, who joined us a moment ago, who helps me wrangle the rest. With all the luggage in hand, we head back out into the hallways. After I shift my load a bit, I look up at the back of Shinsou’s head.

“So, um, where are we headed now?”

Shinsou glances back at me before facing forward again.


“You and your boss are sharing a cabin so there’ll be plenty of room for your stuff in there. After we drop that off, I’ll show you where everything else you’ll need to know about is.”

“Ok!”

We go up two decks and quickly unload all of the baggage near one of the cots. The unnamed sailor left soon after, likely having other things to do. Not being used to heavy labour, I have to take a moment to catch my breath and rest my screaming arms. Shinsou is nice enough to wait without comment, though he does look slightly amused. I blush a bit when I notice, and quickly straighten back up.

“Right, let’s get the rest of the tour out of the way shall we?”

He walks towards the doorway, ruffling my hair as he passes by. My face gets even hotter from embarrassment.




It’s a week into our trip that a storm hits. When you’re in the middle of the ocean, with seemingly endless amounts of water all around you, you’re able to see the storms coming just from looking at the horizon. The downside is, you really can’t do much except brace yourself for it. Within an hour of spotting the dark, angry clouds, the heavens unleashed their fury upon us. Mr. Evans was safe below deck while the wind and rain pounded down, but I was above deck trying to help keep things secure.

For the past week, I’ve been conscripted to help the crew as part of my boss’s favour to the Captain. This meant that I was given menial chores like scrubbing the deck or helping the cook prepare our meals, which wasn’t so bad. I got to know Shinsou a bit more and he’s a nice guy, if a bit aloof most of the time. It was during one of our chats that the alarm went out, and we all started scrambling to get things put away and tied down. We hadn’t managed to get everything secured once the squall hit. I had to fight against not just the wind, but the rocking of the boat too.

Once the last rope was finally tied down, I felt someone tug on my arm. Squinting through the rain, I see Shinsou, who is now dragging me towards the hatch that lead below deck. The boat leans heavily with another wave and we stumble, almost losing our footing. Once the ship evens out again, Shinsou shoves me forward. I look back at him and he yells over the wind.

“Go! You’re done up here!”

“But-”

There’s a flash and then a deafening crack of thunder, drowning out the protest I wanted to make. Shinsou just shakes his head and jabs his finger at the hatch.

“You can’t help now, you’re not strong or experienced enough. Now go!”

I grimace, but obey anyway. As much as I dislike it, he has a point. I’m not a sailor, and I’ll just get in the way right now. I jog over to the heavy wooden door and get my hand around the slippery iron ring, when I hear another shout. It was obscured by the raging wind, so I paused to look up for a moment. I only had enough time to register a rope whipping towards me probably having snapped or come undone from something. The next thing I know, the air is thrust out of me as a crushing force knocks me back into the side rail. I cough and choke, desperately trying to get air back into my lungs.

Just as I finally manage to get a lungful of air, the ship heaves again and I feel myself tipping over the edge. I feel weightless, and for a moment time seems to slow down. I look over my shoulder to see the roiling waves below, and all I can feel is a dreadful certainty. I’ve gone overboard, and I can’t swim.

I’m going to die.

Time speeds up again as I crash into the black, icy water. I desperately hold onto what little air I have, and claw my way towards the surface. I manage to breach once, gasping in fresh air before sinking under again. Shit. Shit! I don’t want to die! Not yet! Please God, help me!

I clamp my hands around my mouth and nose, fighting back the burn of my straining lungs. My eyes are open, exposed to the stinging water, and desperately looking around for something. Anything to help me live just a bit longer. That’s when I notice a blurry shape slip out of my breast pocket and float in front of me.

What’s that?

It looks like a sphere-oh! The pill! I had it in my pocket? I quickly grab for it and bring it to my mouth. That woman said it would help be breath e right? I just have to swallow it. Wait, can I swallow something while holding my breath?

I shake my head and quickly open my mouth, a bubble of air slipping out only to be replaced with brine. There’s no time to think anymore, and I slip the object between my teeth. C licking my jaw shut and swallowing, water and all . That seems to be the limit of my endurance though, and my lungs give out. I cough out all my precious air and reflexively breathe in again, taking in all the salty water my lungs can hold.

My lungs and throat burn even more and I keep trying to get to the surface again, to no avail. The flailing of my arms starts slowing as a pressure starts invading my skull . What little sight I have starts to dot away, and I suddenly feel both warm and cold at the same time. I blink once, then twice as my body stills and I finally fade away.

Chapter Text

Everything hurts, particularly the burning ache of my stomach and back. My limbs feel foreign, my skin stretched thin, and my throat. Oh god, my throat. It feels like I swallowed a few hundred needles, and then threw them back up.

What happened? And where am I? I don’t smell anything and it’s rather dark, if the lack of light filtering through my eyelids is any indication. It’s also eerily silent, aside from a faint swooshing sound. I’m not sure where it’s coming from but, when it’s combined with the weightless feeling, it’s soothing.

I’m not sure what is up or down, or how far away that noise is, but I feel at peace. My brain isn’t going around in circles, or scattering after a hundred different things at once. I don’t want to let go of this feeling, so I just drift for awhile. Trying to ignore my various aches and pains, and just breathing. I don’t think about how long this will last, and I certainly don’t think about how I got to this place. Because everything is just... perfect.

It’s not until a dim light starts filtering through my eyelids, that I decide to do anything other than float. I groan and finally pry my eyes open, blearily looking around. It-it looks like rippling glass. I scrunch my eyebrows in confusion, then rub my eyes. Maybe I’m seeing things.

I remove my hands and look again. Nope, still there. What am I seeing? I frantically look around, only seeing varying shades of blue. Am- am I in the ocean!?

My cry of surprise comes out strange, it sounds closer to a whistle or a screech then a yelp of surprise. Maybe a mix of both. No air slips out of my mouth, and I’m suddenly very aware of the fact that I’m breathing. Underwater. I lift my hands up to my throat, as if to feel what was wrong. I do find something though. There are two sets of sensitive ridges on either side of my neck, where I can feel water gush through with each panicked gasp. I hiss and yank my hands away. Whatever they are, it hurts to touch them.

Since I can’t see what’s on my neck, I look down at my body. Then promptly look back up at what I believe is the water’s surface. I’m dreaming. I’ve died and this is all just an elaborate dream my brain has conjured up as my soul slips from my body. Yeah, that’s it. There’s no way my legs have merged together to form the scaled tail of a Mer.

I take in a deep, shuttering breath, and dig the palms of my hands into my eyes. I don’t know what to do. I’m somewhere in between Ireland and England, and trapped in a body that is vastly different from my own. Well ok, I still seem to have the upper body of a person, but what am I supposed to do with a tail!?

I’ve heard stories of Mers from Shinsou and the other sailors while I worked with them. They varied greatly, depending on who you were talking to, but all came to the same conclusion. Mers were gorgeous creatures who eventually sent men to their doom. They ruthlessly attacked ships and pulled the survivors down to a watery grave. The bodies that do get found or wash ashore, usually have been eaten to some extent.

Even if I did find land or people again, I would be killed before I could say anything in my defense. Though, I can’t say for sure that I can breathe normal air anymore. I heave a deep sigh, and scrub my hands down my face. I need to figure out what to do. As much fun floating here is, I need to get my bearings and find somewhere to go. Mers can’t be the only predators in the ocean, and I feel rather exposed out here in the open. I’ll have a look up top first to see if I can spot any land.


The only problem with that plan is, I still don’t know how to swim. It’s even worse now that I don’t have my legs anymore. I have no clue how to work my new tail. I look down and, after a bit of hesitation, rip my shredded trousers off. This reveals a jade green tail, with turquoise fins. I let go of the ruined fabric and they slowly sink down into the depths.


After appreciating the colour of the scales for a moment, and ignoring my other missing appendage, I start trying to figure things out. The fins at the base of my tail indicate that it should be moved in a back and forth motion. So, like kicking both legs at the same time? What are my side fins for then? Perhaps stability? Well, I’m sure I’ll figure it out later. For now I need to learn how to swim.


My first attempt results in the lower half of my tail jerking back and then forwards, making me move through the water just a bit. I don’t go straight though, more like diagonally. This makes me swing my arms, instinctively trying to balance myself. This seems to stabilize me and I hold perfectly still, trying figure out what I did wrong.


 

It takes an embarrassingly long time to figure out that swimming requires me to move most of my body all at once, not just my tail. Add in the fact that I had to take a break several times, just to rest my aching muscles, and I’m just glad there’s no one around to laugh at how pathetic I am. I also ended up removing my shirt too. It kept dragging in the water and made me feel even more off balance, so it went the way of my trousers and is on its way to the bottom of the sea.

I sigh and run my webbed fingers through my curls, taking care not to nick my ear fins with my claws. I decide to rest some more, before heading for the surface. I lean back and stare at the now smooth surface, enjoying the silence again. That swooshing noise from before may have been the sound of water moving around up there, because I can’t hear it anymore. Not that it really matters right now.

After I look around and figure out where I want to go, I really need to find something to eat. I started getting hungry awhile ago, but I there really isn’t anything around that I could eat. Or anything really. I’ve been alone since I woke up, without even fish coming into view. I’m not sure what Mers eat other than people, but I figure fish is a safe bet either way. I refuse to eat humans, just thinking about it makes me shudder.

I run my tongue over my teeth in thought. All of my teeth are sharp, likely indicating that Mers are purely carnivorous. But would fish be their natural prey, or do they hunt a variety of things? On that note, what lives in the ocean other than fish? Where can I even find fish? How much do I have to eat to sustain myself on any given day? Oh god, will I starve to death before I even find food?


I groan in annoyance and tug on my hair. This isn’t helping, and I have things I need to do first. I’ll worry about all that later, right now I need to focus. I manage to angle myself up towards the surface, and awkwardly swim towards it. It will take a lot longer than a few hours of practice to get completely comfortable with swimming, and even longer to build up the required muscle strength and endurance. Hopefully I’ll have that time. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to get my original form back. The thought of getting my legs back makes me smile, helping to push the other thoughts to the back of my mind.

I approach the now rippling surface, noting that the sun is almost directly overhead. I suppose that, at the least, it’s been over 24 hours since I went overboard and drowned. Did the crew even bother to look for me after the storm? Does my boss even care that I’m gone? Does- no, stop this. Things to do remember? I shake my head and finally poke my head out of the water.

At first, I only poke the top half of my head out of the water. This leaves my nose and mouth submerged. This is just incase regular air has an adverse effect on my body, giving me enough time slip below the surface quickly if I need to. I’m also worried about being seen. I didn’t see any ships close by when I was below, but I’d rather play it safe for now.



 

Though not as terrible as I feared, the air does make me feel a bit uncomfortable once I dry up a bit. It’s particularly bad for my eyes, so I have to blink a lot more to keep them moist. Feeling emboldened, I decide to poke the rest of my head out, leaving my gills underwater. That’s what I felt on my neck earlier, which means I’ll have to be even more careful and aware of my throat from now on. I can’t afford to get them injured or blocked up.

I take a hesitant breath in, squeaking in surprise when bubbles of air shoot out of my gills. My hands automatically shoot up to my throat, only to find my gills already closed. I then notice that I can breathe, but it feels different from when I’m underwater. Different from when I was human even, though I never really paid a whole lot of attention to it before now. It feels, I don’t know, like I can’t quite pull enough air in. Maybe I can’t process straight air as well anymore, which is already more than I was hoping for honestly. I don’t feel quite out of breath, but I probably will be if I stay above the surface for too long.

I quickly look around, trying to see if there’s any land visible on the horizon. I turn this way and that, straining my irritated eyes as far as they can go, trying to catch even the tiniest glimpse of land. With my skin getting dry and irritated, as well as not seeing anything, I decide to call it quits and go back under. I take a deep breath of water to open my gills back up, slightly frustrated that I couldn’t see anything. I sigh and run my hands through my hair again, tugging on the strands a bit. I didn’t want to just go off in a random direction, for fear of getting lost, but I may not have a choice now. If I had to choose between staying and starving to death, or going in a random direction and starving to death, I would choose the one where I actually made an effort to survive.

With that thought in mind, I swim down several meters and head off to my left. Hopefully I’ll find something soon.

Chapter Text

It took about a day and a half of awkward swimming to find anything that could possibly help me. Namely, it was the ocean floor. It seemed to just suddenly appear out of nowhere, which startled me after I finally registered what I was looking at. The lack of food and sleep has made my head feel strange, kind of like I had a bit too much to drink. I still feel energetic though, but that’s most likely from constantly feeling exposed. I just can’t seem to relax at all. I swim down and see that the seabed suddenly drops off in the direction I came from, and went who knows how far down.

I shudder and swim over the sand, and away from the open water. I don’t feel as exposed now, but I still don’t want to sleep without something covering me from view. As a human I’ve had to camp out in the open before, but something in my gut is screaming at me not to do that here. I don’t really know how to describe this feeling, or why I’m having it, but I don’t feel inclined to ignore my strange new instincts. Besides, I need to find something to eat first. I don’t think I will be able to sleep with my belly complaining this much. I sigh and look around again, looks like I’ll be swimming some more.

After awhile, the terrain changes again. Instead of flat plains and small hills of sand, there are shelves of rock that are covered in a vast array of things. Strange plants that sway with the slight current, strangely shaped and pitted rocks, and many different kinds of shellfish. The area is also teeming with a variety of fish, many swimming around in enormous colourful schools. I pause, just looking at everything. It’s so... fascinating! How do they swim in tandem like that?

There wasn’t much to look at when I was in open water, just a school or two of fish that I had to ignore after awhile. I couldn’t catch any, and was forced to move on. I was wasting too much energy, and I wanted to keep moving while I could. I look around at all the fish again and smile. I don’t think I’ll have much to worry about in regards to food now.

Well, no time like the present. My stomach twists again as I line myself up with a particularly large group of green and brown fish (1). I launch myself into the middle of the group, trying to grab the closest one. They all immediately scatter, and I’m left with nothing. Which was expected, but still irritating. I’m just not quick enough yet to catch them, but I don’t know what else I can eat that will fill me up. I turn myself around to face the quickly regrouping school, and ready myself for another go. I have to figure this out sooner or later, and I have plenty of time right now to practice.


 

After countless tries, I still have nothing to show for my efforts. Well, except for a sore and exhausted body. I’m pretty sure I came close once or twice, but close doesn’t make up for an empty stomach. Panting, I make my way down to the seabed to rest. The water around me is much darker now, the sun no longer shining through the surface. That means that it’s almost nighttime, and I don’t have anywhere to sleep yet. With an irritated huff, I look around the rock shelves and take in the scenery again. I got pretty caught up with the fish, and never looked closer at my surroundings. Tilting my head, I maneuver myself closer to one of the things that catch my eye.

I’m not sure what they are at all. They look like a very strange flowers, but do those even grow underwater? They seem to be growing everywhere, with varying colours and shapes. This particular cluster seems to be the most common type. The stem is a translucent brown with a pale yellow centre and white “petals”. No, wait, they’re tentacles not petals (2). I sniff at one a bit, but don’t smell anything. I haven’t really smelled anything since being turned, but I didn’t really think about that before doing it. Can I still smell things, or is that gone forever now?

Tilting my head the other way, I reach out a clawed fingertip and lightly poke the center between the tentacles. I let out an alarmed squeak, and yank my hand back. The light sting it gave my finger startled me. I freeze and blink, staring down at the strange flower. The moment I touched it, it bent in on itself. The tentacles close in towards the centre, and I look at it with concern. Did, did I hurt it? I cover my mouth and look around in concern. None of the others reacted, so I just hurt the one. I guess I’ll just be avoiding these from now on. I don’t think I can eat them anyway, since they sting when touched.

I sigh and swim up towards the surface a bit, it will be easier to spot things from higher up. It’s getting darker and darker by the minute, and I need to find a safe place to bed down. Maybe I can find a hollow amongst the rocks that’s large enough for me to fit into. I look around and see what appears to be a crevice between some rocks, and angle myself down towards it. I start swimming amongst the flowers, trying to get to the place before the gloom sets in completely. I soon find a hole with an outcropping that will cover me pretty well, and is big enough for me to fit. For some reason, though, I still don’t like it. I don’t know why. I’m dead tired and this is the best I can do for now, but it just feels wrong somehow. I scowl and shake my head, I’m just being silly. It’s most likely that I just miss having a bed, but I simply have to get used to this. This is how I’m going to be living from now on. At least until I get changed back anyway.

So I ignore the unhappy feeling in my gut, and curl up on the ground under the rock shelf. Hopefully I can catch something to eat tomorrow. I don’t know how long I can stand this hunger.


 

 

I have probably been tossing and turning for a few hours, unable to relax with the constant ache of my stomach. So I’m bone tired, unable to even doze off even for a little bit, and will probably feel even worse tomorrow. Will I even be able to catch anything tomorrow? Never mind my lack of skill, will I even have enough energy to hunt? Should I just taste different things and hope it doesn’t kill me? What-

“What’s that noise?”

I’m pretty sure I heard a soft cracking noise close by, and I’m positive it wasn’t made by me. I’m well aware that I mutter aloud when thinking, but I don’t always notice when I start though. I often get yelled at or stared at when it happens around others. I didn’t notice at first, but I can’t seem to speak English anymore. Or any recognizable human language really, not that I know that many. The words are there in my head, but it comes out as various clicks and whistles instead of words. Maybe it’s the mer language? Do they even have a language? There it is again!

I quickly prop myself up and look up at the adjacent rock shelf, where the sounds are coming from. It’s a bit too gloomy to see, the moon being just a waning sliver, so I have to squint and scoot closer. I have to get about 30 cm from the ledge to see what looks like two large insects about the length of my arm. I can’t tell what exact colour they are, but they’re probably a dark blue. Both have two long antennae, huge pincers, and long bodies with fanned tails (3). They seem to have crushed the mussels that line the shelf, and are eating the meat that’s inside.

Huh, I must have missed them in my haste to find a place to sleep. I only know what those are because there were some stuck to the bottom of the ship, along with the barnacles that a sailor was removing. The mussels were kept as a snack for the crew while the rest were discarded into the sea. Speaking of which, I could probably eat them and be fine. It would take the edge off at least. How did I forget about that?

I reach out to the closest cluster, and pry a few off the rock face. I notice how one suddenly snaps closed in my hand, but ultimately ignore it in favour of figuring out how to get it open again. I don’t have a knife, how am I going to pry it open? Those bugs are crushing the shells with their pincers before eating them, but I don’t want to injure myself. I frown down at my hands, and then almost smack myself in the face. I have claws, jeeze! How could I be so stupid!? I quickly pry one open with little difficulty, and pop the meat into my mouth. I assume it’s ok to eat it raw, because there’s no way I can cook anything underwater. I’ll just have to live with it if I get sick later, I need food now (4).

Mmmm, just as chewy and delicious as I remember, if a bit gritty. Probably had some sand in it. I finish off the other two and drop the shells, letting them drop down to the sandy seabed. I need more. My stomach starts twisting even more, once it realizes that I’m finally putting something in it. Before I grab some more, I look at the two bugs with a thought. Could I eat those? They’re pretty big, and I assume they have some muscle under their shells. Hmmm. I reach out my hand, going for the one on the right. I hesitate a bit, but then grab the top of its thorax. I gingerly pick it up, almost dropping it when it suddenly brings its claws up. I grit my teeth and ignore it though, it can’t reach me with its pincers anyway.

I just hold it and think for a moment, wondering where to start. I could go for a claw, that seems to be the easiest, but I don’t want it to get me. I sigh and frown, as my stomach twists again. I guess I can’t really be picky, can I? I carefully grab one of the thing’s arms, making sure to grab below the claw. I quickly jerk back, and cleanly pull the limb off with a snap. I drop the creature back on the ledge, so I can focus on exposing the meat underneath the shell. I crack open the claw first, since that’s the biggest part. The flesh seems to be a light grey colour in the dim light, with darker patches covering it.

Well, time to taste it. It’s a bit squishy, but tastes amazing! It has a light, almost sweet flavour, that makes me crave even more. If only I had butter, I think it would go well with it. I make quick work of the limb, simply pulling the flesh off the long, transparent ligaments and popping it into my mouth. Once finished, I scoop the fleeing creature back up. If that’s how the claw tasted, the rest of it must be just as good! I dig my claw into one of the soft spaces between the plates on it’s back, and pry it off, exposing the succulent flesh underneath. Instead of picking it apart with my fingers, I decide to just bite right in. Oooh, it’s soooo good! The texture is a bit different in the tail, but the taste is still the same.

I empty out the bug’s shell and, still feeling peckish, eat half of the other one. I’ll save the rest of it for breakfast, since my belly is already full. Hopefully I can fall asleep now, I never liked lying awake all night. Too many thoughts swim around in my head and stress me out. I swim back over to my little nook, and tuck the half eaten carcass into the back. I quickly take a look around to make sure I’m still alone, and then curl up on the sand once again. I yawn, and finally start feeling drowsy. Being full is nice.

 

Chapter Text

I’m not sure how late I slept in, but the water is nice and bright when I sluggishly stir awake. I yawn and stretch my aching body, arching my stomach up towards the rock shelf above. I whimper as my bruises pull beneath my skin, making me want to rub and soothe them. I guess the rest has finally let my body start healing. As far as I know, I didn’t break anything before or after the transformation, so I just have to deal with bruises and sore muscles. Well, that is still pretty bad, but I don’t have the luxury to whine about it right now.

Well, I guess I should get going now. After eating my leftovers and relieving myself in a nearby crevice, I set out to see what’s around. I don’t think I need to eat anytime soon, so I’m going to explore and see if I can find a better place to sleep for tonight. I can try my hand at hunting again this afternoon, since it’s not my top priority right now. I also just don’t want to tire myself out on a fruitless task right now, not when I can eat things other than fish. At least until I get hunting figured out anyway. Speaking of figuring things out, what’s that smell?

I look around, but don’t see anything strange or out of place. Well, everything’s strange, but still looks the same as yesterday. Maybe it’s coming from something on the ground? I get closer to the rocks and plants and swim around, trying to find the source of that strange scent. Well, it’s not a smell per se, more like a taste that coats my mouth and tongue. I think that’s as close as smelling can get while underwater, which makes sense.

I finally manage to locate the source near a cluster of colourful plant like rocks(1), where the scent is much stronger. I don’t know how to describe it, other than deep and musky . It kind of makes the scales on the underside of my tail feel tingly . It feels l ike I have an itch, but it’s something I can ignore for now. I’m not sure I like feeling this way. I think I want to find somewhere to hide. I’ll just avoid these rocks for now, I need to keep moving and find somewhere safe .

I quickly swim up towards the surface, trying to get away from the pungent smell. I’ll also have a better view of my surroundings from up here. I look around, trying to see as far out as I can. Hmmm, mostly just rocks and plants with lots of fish swimming around. The fish are staying away from me though, probably because I’m a predator. Oh! What’s that over there?

There’s something large off in the distance northwest of me . Don’t ask me how I know that, I just do for some reason. It doesn’t look to be another cluster of rocks, since it looks smooth and curved. Brimming with curiosity, I start swimming towards it. I keep closer to the surface this time, since it’s easier to keep the strange object in view from up here. After several minutes, I realize a couple things. One, it’s a ship that I ’m swimming towards. Two, it’s sitting away from all the rocks that I’ve been swimming around, and surrounded by sand.

It may have sunk during a storm. The water here isn’t that shallow, but a storm may make it shallow enough that a ship may run into or scrape against the rocks. How fast the ship sinks would depend on how big the hole is. Oh god, what if there a re bodies in there? What would I do if there were ? I guess that depends on how decomposed they are.

I pause for a moment, trying rid my mind of such thoughts. I don’t need to think about that until such a scenario actually arises. I start swimming again, a bit slower this time, and soon get close to the keel of the ship. The hull has a large hole in it where the wood touches the sand. From all the algae and stuff clinging to the wood, this thing has likely been here for quite some time. It’s not very large, probably some kind of fishing vessel. Ooh, that probably means there are nets and stuff inside! I could use those to help me catch fish, if I never figure out how to do it the mer way anyway.

I swim down towards the hole, curious to see if I can fit through it. There’s probably a way in from the deck, but having multiple points of egress is always good. Makes it less likely that I’ll get trapped inside that way. I’m not sure what predators live in the ocean other than mers, but I want to be prepared . Well, Shinsou and the other sailors had many stories of the different horrors that lurk in the deep, but I’m pretty sure they were just trying to scare me. Not that it’s that difficult to scare me. The thought makes me grumble, why do people always pick on me?

Wait, do mers attack other mers? How should I act if I see one? Should I try talking first? Do they even have a language? Maybe they-no, stop. I have other things to worry about. Besides, I think I was thinking of this stuff before. C an’t remember when though. I tug on my hair, trying to get back on track, and then start digging sand away f rom the hole. I need to make the opening bigger so I can fit through. For some reason, my hips are bigger th a n when I was human. No idea why, or for what purpose that particular change serves .

O nce I manage to move enough sand out of the way, I carefully squeeze inside. There ’s some light filtering through some tinier holes in the hull, making the interior of the ship visible . There isn’t much in here other than some crates, rope, and a large net. Wait, hang on. T here’s something wedged between one of the crates and the sandy bottom. I swim over and try to pull the crate away, but it’s too heavy and won’t budge . I pout at the large wooden object and then sigh. Well, I’m going to have to do muscle training sometime anyway . Just not now. I can just dig whatever it is out this time .

I sink my clawed fingers into the sand and carefully dig underneath the ob- oh god. Are those bones!? Oh god! Uh! What should I do? Um, I guess keep digging them out? I could probably give whoever this is a burial of some sort. Is it a bad thing that I just don’t want to sleep in the same place as a corpse!? I shudder and continue digging, temporarily piling all of the bones I uncover outside.

Jeeze, how many bones does one person have anyway(2)? Well, I think I’ve found as much as I can for now. I’m amazed at how clean they are. I don’t think it will be hard to, uh, bury these. Maybe I should put rocks over them, instead of digging around in the sand some more. T hat’ll probably be easier. The webbing between my fingers also hurt from all the sand scraping across them. I’ll have to be more careful with them in the future, since they’re pretty sensitive.


 

 

W ell, now that I’ve properly laid that person to rest, I can finally check out the rest of my new home. Then I really need to find some more food, I ’m getting hungry again. For right now though, I’m setting up my new place to make it nice and cozy . I zip back into the ship and look around again. Hmm, I could just sleep on the sand, but really don’t want to for some reason. Sure, it’s gritty and all, but it’s also pretty soft to lay on. Well, compared to grass and dirt anyway.

Hmm, where’s the sail? I could drag that in here and ball it up into a bed. Yeah! I ’ll do that. Ooh, I could make a hammock with the fishing net and sail! I- I think I’m getting way to into this. But now that I’m thinking about it, nothing sounds better. I don’t want to lay on the sand! I want a nice bed that’s soft and maybe other things too ! I sigh and head back out to look for the sail. I must be really homesick if I’m this wound up about sleeping arrangements.

I head around the ship towards the deck, hoping the mast is still attached to it. Or at least located close by. Hmm, it’s snapped off, but I think I see it further out amongst the sand. I head over to the large object, all while looking out for stuff. You never know what you could find just lying around. The sail seems to still be tied up and secured to the mast, which supports the whole sinking in a storm idea.

This makes the work a bit easier, I just have to cut away some of the rigging to get it free. The difficult part will be dragging it back to the ship. Wait, how am I gonna get this in there? I shake my head violently and then start slicing the rope away with my claws. I’ll worry about it when I get there.


 

 

I. Hurt. Everywhere! I didn’t think dragging something would be so hard without legs! And don’t even get me started on pushing. Why did I do strenuous work when I was already sore again?

It took me all day to get that sail in here. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I didn’t even consider cutting it up into manageable pieces until after wrestling half of it through the hatch. To be honest though, I think I only came to that conclusion when the idea of a hammock no longer appealed to me.

I can’t say it wasn’t worth it though. I sigh contentedly, and nuzzle my face into my comfy new bed. Well, nest would be a more accurate word for what I ended up making. Once I had shredded a good bit of sail, I just started to arrange them together in an oval shape. I occasionally used some rope to keep the canvas in the general shape I wanted, until it was long enough to fit my entire length. Still wish I’d come to that solution earlier, I ended up running out of daylight when I finally got done.

I frown as my stomach twists and complains. Focusing on the task of making my new home more livable had managed to distract me from the hunger, but I guess it’s finally time to find something to eat. Well, even if I can’t catch any fish, I can always snack on some mussels. Hmm, I wonder if I can find anymore of those bugs.

Well, can’t get anything to eat if I just lay here. I haul myself out of bed and swim back outside. I’ll just go get some mussels and see what I find on the way, I don’t feel up to wasting more of my energy on trying to catch fish. Good thing I have a good sense of direction, because it’s pitch black due to the new moon. Starlight doesn’t really penetrate the water unfortunately.

On the way to my only food source, I catch a whiff of that scent again. I scrunch my eyebrows and look around. That’s strange, it’s coming from a nearby patch of flowers. I frown as I notice my tail wiggling strangely and start tingling again. I still don’t like this, I’ll just quickly move on and avoid this area on the way back. I wonder what’s causing the smell? I know it’s not the flowers, and those rocks from before weren’t there. Well, not the same kind anyway.

As I get closer to my destination, I hear the same cracking noises from last night. I smile and angle myself towards it, finding another cluster of mussels with some bugs helping themselves to their contents. Hmmm, I never saw any of those during the day. Do they only come out at night? The mussels seem to be their preferred food, since I haven’t seen them anywhere else so far. If I leave the majority of them alone and swing by in the evening, then I may just have a stable source of food! I’ll leave the mussels alone, then and use them as a sort of bait. They wouldn’t be more than a snack anyway, no sense in eating them all at once when they can attract bigger things that I can eat.

I smile and swoop down, snatching two up before heading back home. I do my best to avoid that smell, but still catch whiffs of it on my way back. As a result, I arrive back home slightly agitated. I quickly devour my catch, hungry enough to finish them both this time. I then huff and plop back into bed, trying to ignore that tingly feeling that has become strangely persistent.

I roll over onto my back and close my eyes, absentmindedly rubbing my stomach. Hmmm, that feels nice. Maybe if I rub lower, the tingly feeling will go away. My hand slips lower, gliding over my scales until my fingers touch my slit. My eyes blink open in confusion, why am I touching there? I look down at myself, well, as well as I can in the gloom. Why am I touching there? I- I excrete from there! No, wait, I think that stuff came from further down.

Fish bodies are weird. I figured out going to the bathroom well enough, just find a spot and go. But that was just, uh, solid stuff. I’m not sure if mers pee, since I haven’t needed to drink water yet, but I don’t think any of that stuff came out this morning. Do- do I even have a penis anymore? How do I know what sex I am? I mean, I’m a man, I always have been. I just thought I would settle down and have kids eventually, you know? What if I can’t do that in this form? How would I even do that kind of thing anyway? How do- oh wait, here it is.

It seems that it was hiding inside the top slit. Yeah, apparently I have two slits in my tail. The bottom one is where the, uh, stuff comes out, and the top one seems to be where my penis is. It’s inside me though, how do I get it out? Wait, am I really going to do this right now? My fingers pause in their careful exploration, the pad of my index finger just on tip of my member.

I’ve always been taught, whether by my mother or the priest at church, that touching yourself is a sin. Any and all carnal acts must wait until married, to do otherwise is an affront to the Lord. I don’t want to burn in Hell, but I’m not sure I even have a soul anymore(3). I mean, I’m not human, and only humans have souls. Right? I frown and look back down at my hands. Well, if I can’t get into heaven anyway, then I’m going to see what all the fuss is about.

With that decided, I plunge my fingers all the way in. Oh god! That feels, oh. I moan as my member slides out into the open, I guess all it needed was some stimulation. It feels strange, I mean, it feels different than how it used to. It’s smooth and slippery, wider at the base and slims out near the tip. My breath shudders as I start to stroke with one hand, while the other tightly grips the base.

My body starts to stretch out, the end of my tail thumping the bed with each shudder and stroke. I don’t bother being quiet, since I haven’t seen anyone else all day. I run my thumb over the tip, which causes my back to arch and a squeal to slip out of my mouth. It’s still odd to hear clicks and whistles come out instead of words, even weirder when moans and grunts are replaced my squeaks and trills. Despite the strangeness of everything, I feel something building up in my belly.

I gasp when I give myself a vigorous tug, which trails off into a keening whine. I- I think I’m close. Not exactly sure what I’m close to, but I am. After a few more strokes and tugs, my body seizes up with a cry. After a moment, I relax and let go of myself, allowing my member to slip back into my body.

My whole body feels limp and slightly numb. I giggle and roll over, nuzzling my face into the fabric of my bed. That felt amazing! I feel all relaxed fuzzy now, which soon turns to drowsy. Mmmm, I don’t feel like moving. I guess there’s no harm in drifting off to sleep like this, is there?

Chapter Text


 

 

Waking up the next day was interesting, to say the least. Not only did I sleep really well, but my aches and pains are all but gone. After stretching and adjusting my bed, I decide to head out and try my hand at fishing again. I really need to start getting better at it, who knows when I’ll run out of those bugs to eat.

The next few days are focused purely around finding food, fishing practice, and avoiding the patches of rocks that have that strange smell. I still haven’t made much progress with hunting, but I’m trying my best dammit! I did manage to catch one fish the other day, but I’m pretty sure it was a fluke since I haven’t caught any more since.

It tasted ok, but the bugs I’ve been eating taste much better. Maybe I should switch to being nocturnal, since I’m only getting food at night right now. That would make it so I lost less sleep, but I can’t see that well in the dark. Maybe I should try making use of the net I found in my… home? House? Den? What would be the right word in this situation?

Either way, I seem to have a problem right now. I had decided to devote today purely to exploration, so I had been out amongst the sand dunes to see if there was anything beyond. I think I managed to swim a few kilometres out, before deciding to head back before it got dark. There were some clusters of rock dotted about, but not much else that’s worth mention. I did see something dark in the distance, but it was a bit too far away to see clearly.

I’d like to say that I’ll check it out later, but being so far from home makes me really uncomfortable. I’m not sure why, I’ve only lived there a few days after all. Well, I’ve got a nice place to sleep and a somewhat stable food source, so it makes sense to stick to a safe place until I can figure things out. Well, it was safe, but something has changed regarding my living arrangements.

The strange scent that was dotted around my hunting grounds, has suddenly appeared at my home. Or, more accurately, on it. Specifically, just overtop the hole in the hull of the ship. This makes me feel real anxious, even more so than just smelling when I’m out hunting. This feels like, like an invasion. I hate it, why is it here?

I glare at the wood of the hull and thump my tail against the sand, beyond irritated for some reason. I want it gone! That scent has no reason to be here, especially since I don’t even know what left it in the first place! It’s just- just, rude! I thump my tail a few more times, causing plumes of sand to swirl through the water around me. But… how can I get rid of it, when I don’t even know what’s causing it?

I droop a bit at the thought, but something grabs my attention once the sand settles down a bit. Hmmm? It looks like there’s something shining in the sand. I tilt my head curiously, and then swim over to where the jagged edge of the hull meets the ground. Are those, scales? It seems that the scent is strongest near them, so if I got rid of them the smell will disappear?

I reach out, and carefully pluck the small scales from the sand. They’re a bit larger than mine, and translucent. Probably because they aren’t part of the main body anymore. I shift them around in the palm of my hand, curious. There’s five of them, all different colours. Two are tan, one is red, and the remainder are black. I think they’re all from the same creature, since they all have the same scent.

Hmmm, are these mer scales? It would make sense, since I haven’t seen anything else my size since coming here. That- I don’t know what to think of that. I mean, it gives me an opportunity to try communicating, but do mers even tolerate others of their own kind? I’ve heard of various creatures that mark their territory, and this is obviously meant to do just that. Some of them are pack animals, others are solitary.

I stare at the little flakes for a moment, just thinking, before clenching my fist around them. Well, one thing at a time I suppose. Right now, I’m just going off of assumptions, and don’t have any solid proof. Besides, whoever marked this boat had no right to. It’s mine after all. I just have to show that it’s taken right?

I swim a ways away, before tossing the scales amongst a cluster of twisting yellow rocks. That should be far enough away, right? I then head back and take another whiff. The scent is still stuck to the wood, but I can get rid of it. Probably. I can at least try, anyway. I grab a fistful of sand, ignoring the new abrasions on my webbing, and grind it into the affected area.

After the layer of algae and the top layer of wood is worn off, I swim right up next to the hull. I rub my tail, the part right next to my side fins, up against the wood a few times before swimming away. Did I do it right? I just kind of did that without thinking, but it seems to have worked. The smell is gone, and a few of my scales are wedged into the grain. Some also are floating down to the sand below, but that’s fine.

I let out a sigh of relief, and finally swim inside. I feel so much better now! I plop myself down onto my bed, and nuzzle into the fabric. Ahh~ this truly is the best. Hmm, maybe I should celebrate a bit by doing my new favourite activity, before getting some food? It’s almost sundown after all.


 

 

The next few days are mostly uneventful, though that scent has appeared all around lately. I’ve dedicated my time to exploring in the direction of the dark area, since I didn’t want to intrude on what was probably another mers property. That didn’t stop the other from coming back while I was out, and getting their stink everywhere. I mean, really! I can’t go two metres around the boat without finding a patch!

I’ m half tempted to move, but I worked hard to get my bed made, and find a stable food supply. Besides, they’re the ones being disruptive, not me. I haven’t even seen them for god’s sake. Should- should I confront them? Would that even accomplish anything? What if it’s not even a mer?

Why am I so concerned about this? I’m not going to get anywhere just sitting around fussing about it. I need to f igure out an actual solution, and the best way to do that is make an attempt to communicate. That’s why I’ve decided to stick around my house today, just to see if they show up again . After spending most of the morning scrubbing the scent away of course.

I ts not until sometime after noon that anything happens. I had been fiddling around with the net, trying to see how I could use it, when I hear some clicking noises. Well, a lot of clicking noises, followed by some screeching and a thumping noise. Curious, I turn my head towards the front entrance, ears twitching. Is that them? So soon?

I push myself off the ground and tentatively approach the hole. I stay close to the edge, hoping not to be seen as I peek outside. Those-those are mers! Specifically mermen, and three of them! They all look so different from each other, and from me too.

For starters, none of them have green tails . One’s tail is a red colour, the other one black, and the angry looking third a mottled mix of red, black, and tan. Their fins are also different from mine. Instead of the thin, smooth membranes that run down each side of my hips, they have what look like webbed spines. there’s one on each of their forearms, as well on the nape of their necks, and on the back of their tails.

T he red and black one are a bit smaller than the mixed one, by almost metre or so in length. I think they’re bigger than me by half a metre though, which makes me even more nervous about approaching them. Well, that’s just taking into account their looks. Their behavior is also scary. The red tailed one, who also has red spiked hair, is chittering away at the black haired one.

As they chitter at each other, they swim in circles around the multi-coloured one, who has spiky tan hair and is swimming this way . Occasionally, they accidentally brush against the larger mer, which causes him to screech and physically lash out at the offender. S-scary!

Unfortunately, I had let out a small squeak of fright , which catches the attention of the mers. The large one slowly turns his red, irritated eyes towards me, while the others gaze down at me curiously . Hieeee! He looks mad! My eyes widen in horror as the mer suddenly launches himself at me without warning . I manage to tumble out of the way, turning to hide further inside my den. He ha s n’t come inside before, maybe he’ll leave me alone if I stay inside!

My hopes are dashed as a clawed hand roughly grabs my tail, just above the fins, and yanks me back. I scream and try to wiggle and claw myself away. D ragging my fingers through the sand as I get pulled out into the open water.

Nonononononono! Let go, let go!”

I manage to twist myself around, until I’ m face to face with my attacker. The other two seem to be hanging back a ways, content to just watch me panic as I struggle against the large one’s strong grip. He doesn’t seem to listen, or even understand, my panicked cries. He just looks slightly confused, and even angrier tha n before.

T he mer reaches out with his other hand, and grabs my hip. I don’t think as he starts to pin me to the sand, I just want him to let go of me. So I rear back, and swing at him with all my might. I hit him square in the jaw, which startles him enough to let me go. I wince as my claws gouge into my palm, but twist back around and dart back into the boat.

I don’t pause when I hear an enraged screech, I just rush over to the net and quickly scoop it up. I need to do this right, and get away from here. I don’t know how to fight one on one, let alone one on three! As expected, I hear the large mer start clawing his way inside. I briefly look back, and shudder from the look of pure rage on his face.

I grip the net tighter, and wait as the mer squeezes his way inside. His spines are fully raised, which means they’re probably used for attack, or to help in defense. I should probably avoid getting stuck with them then. As soon as he darts within reach, arms extended out towards me and fangs bared , I twist around and throw the heavy net over him. That should slow him down a bit while I make my escape.

I swim up to the hatch that leads out to the back of the boat, that I keep closed at all times, and unlatch it. I bolt outside, after a brief glance around to make sure the coast is clear, and swim as fast as I can in the opposite direction of the other two mers. I hear confused and shocked squeaks behind me, but I don’t bother looking back. That will only slow me down.


 

 

It’s well into evening when I finally collapse onto the sand from exhaustion, gulping water down through my gills as my body starts to shake. I’m pretty sure I lost them an hour or so ago, but I didn’t want to stop and find out. Oh god, what am I going to do now? I can’t go back there, they’ll probably eat me alive! And now I’m homeless again!

No helping it, I suppose . I’ll just get my breath back, and continue on until I find another form of shelter. I guess now I can find out what that dark stuff in the distance was, since I seem to have been going in that direction in my haste to escape. My breathing finally calms down, but I allow another moment to le t the shaking die down. I really pushed myself hard, I should take it easy for the rest of the journey .

Chapter Text

Despite wanting to get farther away, I’m forced to find somewhere to sleep once night settles in. My body refuses to go much farther, and I simply didn’t have the energy to find anything to eat. I’ll bother with it later, I just want to sleep. I decide to bed down between two clusters of rock, just flopping down onto the sand face down once I get situated. I close my eyes and sigh, I’ll leave everything for tomorrow.

The next morning comes with a wickedly aching tail, a throbbing hand, and a protesting stomach. I groan and roll over onto my back. Well, first things first. I’ve got to assess the damage. I hold my hand up above my face, inspecting the wounds I inadvertently gave myself yesterday. Yep, four crescent shaped gouges, that are crusted over with greenish blue blood. Even my blood is different now, maybe I really don’t have a soul anymore. Would I be able to get it back if I turn back into a human?

I really should think the next time I get into a fight though, since mers aren’t very tolerant of strangers apparently. Because of these claws, I need to get used to swiping instead of punching. Well, I’m not really used to fighting to begin with, but its never too late to start? I groan and smack myself in the face. Why did I have to fall off the stupid boat? I wouldn’t be in this mess if I had just gotten below deck sooner!

I sigh deeply, then open my eyes to peer through the abused webbing at the bright surface. Well, nothing I can do about it now. Besides, I need to check the rest of my wounds and get going, it’s not safe here. I lower my arm and prop myself up, grunting from the strain. I have some abrasions on my stomach and down along the base of my tail, but nothing too severe. I have a nasty bruise where the other mer grabbed me, the scales a deeper green than the rest of my tail, but I don’t think anythings broken.

I flick the tip back and forth once, and wince as pain lances up my spine. Well, no heavy swimming then. I’ll just take it easy while I travel, and avoid fishing for now. I’ll be fine, I’ve gone days without food before, I can do it again. With that in mind, I push myself off the sand and out into the open water.

As I slowly make my way towards the dark strip on the horizon, I think about my encounter yesterday. I’m pretty sure that was the mer who had been marking up my den, since the scales matched. I wasn’t really paying attention to his scent, since I was focused more on surviving, but it was likely the same one that I had been picking up everywhere. If that’s the case, then what about the other two?

The scent that was left around was the same each time, and their scales didn’t really match the ones I found. Does that mean only certain mers scent mark? It’s obvious now that it was a territorial thing, so are they like wolves? But all members of a wolf pack mark their territory, not just he leaders. Cats then? They’re mostly solitary, but do run in packs sometimes. They also are very strict about scent marking, and who’s allowed to cross over and when.

I never crossed into his territory though! If anything, it crossed over me! But, I suppose that’s the point. I never marked my territory properly, and he simply took what he assumed was free. Excuses like being ignorant have no meaning here, but I’m alive and can do better next time. Even if I went back, I doubt I could fight for my house back. Not only would it be three on one, I’m simply outclassed in size and experience. Probably strength too, since I haven’t gained that much muscle since my transformation.

That brings me to the next point, the physical differences between all of us. Where the differences between me and them are obvious, it was less so between the three of them. I think the biggest difference between them was size. The aggressive mer was bigger than them in almost every way. Whether it was length, muscle mass, the size of their fins, he was superior. Maybe they were just younger than him, and will grow to be that size later. Yeah, that might be it.

As for my differences, maybe I’m just a different kind of mer. I mean, other than being a human turned mer. Unless, that really is the only reason I’m smaller and have different kind of fins from them. But there are different kinds of fish too, and I’m pretty sure none of them were another creature originally. Ugh, my head hurts. I think I’ll just take a small break over there. The pain in my tail is starting to become unbearable anyway.

I steer myself over to another cluster of rocks, and perch myself on the highest point. There’s quite the view from up here. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d probably appreciate it more. I absently look around with hooded eyes, panting slightly through the pain. It seems that I’ve gotten much farther from where I’ve explored before, the darkness in the horizon is much closer now. Though I still can’t make out what it is.

I know it isn’t land. I had checked the other day, and whatever it is doesn’t extend beyond the surface. It might not be a good idea to just head towards it, but it’s the only place I can think of going for now. I sigh and look down, perking up a bit at what I see. There’re some oysters within one of the crevices, which should help stave of my hunger.

Shinsou also told me about these when we were eating the mussels. He said there were many types of mollusks that could be eaten, oysters and clams being among them. He had taken the time to sketch some on a piece of parchment, and these are just like the drawing. There was another kind he spoke of, that he said could get bigger than a man’s fist. I’m not sure how exaggerated that was, but I think it was called… abalone? Either way, these should taste as good as the mussels, and will probably have more meat too!

I reach down and pry a few off the rocks, quickly shucking them and downing the meat. Ah~ that feels a bit better. It seems to almost be noon, so I’ll rest and eat a bit more before heading off again. No sense in pushing it when there’s no reason to hurry.


 

 

Over the course of a few days, I cycle between swimming, resting, and eating the occasional oyster or mussel. I manage to find another one of those bugs, but it was a circular/ oval shape instead of long with a tail (1). The inside of the body had a very salty flavour, whereas the legs and claws had a light taste to them. It was pretty good. If I don’t get sick from eating it, I’ll try finding and eating them again.

I managed to find something amazing in one of the oysters I ate today. It’s a pearl, and a decent sized one too. It’s about the size of my pinky nail, and the lustre makes it a genuine jewelry grade stone. Judging by the teardrop shape, this would be perfect for an earring(2). It’s a perfect pale white, just like the moon, and almost completely smooth.

I can’t really do anything with it right now, and it’s basically worthless in my current situation, but I feel like holding onto it anyway. Having nowhere to store it, and needing both of my hands free to swim properly, I tuck the rock between my gum and cheek. It will be safe there, and I’m unlikely to accidentally swallow it. I can always take it out when I eat. With my prize safely tucked away, I start swimming again.

As the days continue to slip by, the darkness on the horizon get closer and closer. On the fifth day of my journey, I can finally make out some of it. It looks to be a deep green colour, instead of black like I originally thought. I can make out large… things swaying about in the distance. They almost look like, trees. Is it a forest? Can a forest really exist under water?

I frown in thought, before peering down at my scales. Well, I’d blend in at least. The thought makes me smile, and I quicken my pace. If I blend in, then I can hide easier. I’ll be much safer there, than out here in the open!


 

 

I’m not sure how to describe the undersea forest, but breathtaking seems to be an adequate word. The water is cooler, since the sun barely manages to trickle through the leaves and onto the ground. Many different kinds of fish swim and dart around, it almost looks like they’re frolicking amongst the olive green stalks of the sea trees(3). I smile and swim around a bit, just taking everything in like I did when at my old home over a week ago.

There seems to be many different things living here, I don’t know if I’ll be able to see all of them in my lifetime. Life sure is diverse, no matter where you go. All of the trees seem to be growing out of the rocks, of all things. How is that possible? They bob and sway along with the gentle currents, their leaves floating whimsically next to them. They might not be the same shade of green as me, but I have no doubt that I will fit right in here. How do these float anyway?

I get in close to one and inspect it, carefully observing the odd plant. Hmmm, going by their movement in the water, neither the stalk nor the branches are buoyant enough to float on their own. I mean, from the way the leaves move, it seems like they’re just hanging in the water. What’s holding them up then?

My eyes trail up the thin stalk, and stop when I see something strange. There’s this bulbous thing sticking out from under one of the branches. Now that I’ve seen it, I notice several more attached to the plant. Whatever it is, it seems to be what’s holding it up. Huh. How does it work? I reach my hand out and poke it, marveling at the slimy smooth texture.

When nothing happens, I grasp it between my fingers and jab a claw through thin membrane. Oh. Oh! A bubble of air slips out of the bulbous thing, and quickly floats up to the surface. With the air gone, that particular part of the plant seems to sag a little, though not by much. That’s so cool! So it somehow produces, or traps, air to stay upright!

With that revelation out of the way, I decide to stop getting distracted and find a place to sleep. I can look around more later. It’s afternoon now, and I want to have time to make another bed before tonight. There are many caves and crevices running along the ground, one of them should be perfect to live in. Well, I think I’ll go with caves, since that will provide more cover than a crevice will. I’ll be more likely to fit in one too.

I spy a promising looking hole under a patch of trees, and swim over to have a look. No, this one won’t do. It’s only big enough to get my torso in. I scooch back out of the hole, and look around again. Over here? No, this one’s too narrow.

This carries on for awhile, until I manage to find a rather large cavern nestled in the bottom of a hill. There’re many trees covering two of the three holes, which made finding it quite difficult. Well, all the better for me. That means it’ll be difficult for others to find it too. The inside is rather spacious, with two separate ‘rooms’ which can easily hold two of me each.

The room that I decide will be my sleeping quarters has a small hole on top, which is just big enough to let light in. It’s two hand lengths wide, and one length long. The living room has two holes connecting it to the outside. One is just wide enough for me to squeeze through, and leads directly up into a cluster of trees. This will probably be my emergency exit, and I’ll work on hiding it from the outside later.

The hole that is going to be the main entrance is much wider, and located about 30 cm(4) off the ground. I don’t think there’s much I can do to hide it, so for now I’m going to leave it be. Now I need to make a bed. I think the leaves from those trees would be good, but I need to bring in a bit of sand to help form the base. I may also cut one or two trees down to form the perimeter, but first…

I reach into my mouth and pull my pearl out, tucking it into one of the little nooks of the living room. There, nice and safe. Oh, I should probably mark my territory when I get the chance. I didn’t smell any mers nearby, and I don’t want some stranger trying to muscle their way in. Next time… next time I’ll defend my home.

Chapter Text

I creep along the sea floor, trying to disturb the nearby trees as little as possible. I look up through the leaves, eyeing my target silently as it slips effortlessly between them. I frown in concentration, I can’t mess this up. I’ve been waiting so long to try this, and I don’t want to fail.

My prey pauses for a moment, it’s wide, glossy eyes peering through the gloom. I freeze, waiting for it to move on, before ducking down lower to the ground. That was close, too close. I need to be more careful, else I’ll probably go hungry tonight. I gently push myself forward, and begin stalking the creature once again.

The creature finally swims into a small clearing in the trees, and pauses along with the rest of its kind. My body tenses, preparing to pounce. It’s now or never. I have the perfect shot lined up, and I have no idea when it’ll move on again. My hips wiggle a bit from the anticipation, before I launch myself up, and towards my target.

The group suddenly breaks apart and starts swimming away, but it’s too late. I open my mouth at the very last second, and clamp down when I feel scales brush against my stretched lips. My razor sharp teeth pierce through its flesh easily, filling my mouth with the taste of blood. I immediately bring my hands up, waving them through the water to steady myself as I come to a stop.

Once I’ve stabilized myself, I reach up to the squirming fish and twist its head. The spine snaps and the flesh easily parts from the rest of its body, scales glittering as they separate and briefly float around my head. I drop the unwanted piece, and finally remove the dead creature from my mouth. I lick the blood and scales from my teeth, and look down at my prize. I- I did it! I successfully caught a fish on the first try! Well, without the awkward flailing at least.

No wonder none of my other tries were working well. My hands are too slow because of how they drag in the water, which means I could never reliably catch anything as quick as a fish. By taking them out of the equation, I have the speed to catch them before they can swim away. The only thing I had to really work on was my timing and aim, which I had been doing over the past few days.

It’s been roughly a month since I moved into this undersea forest. I can never quite get over how beautiful and peaceful it is here. There’s so much to see and do here, I haven’t gotten bored once. Just a few days ago I saw this really large fish. It was mostly grey, but had a white underbelly where it had a wide mouth full of sharp teeth(1). This fish was almost as long as me, but a little bit wider, from the snout to the tip of its tail.

It was from that creature that I figured out my new method of hunting. I had watched as it snapped up three fish, one after another, in its jaws. I was so amazed, I nearly got chomped on myself. One whack to its snout had it swimming away, never to disturb me again. After that, I set about trying to mimic it, practicing on the trees around me.

I grin and squeal from delight, wriggling around in the water while clutching the fish carcass close to my chest. Yay! Yay! Now I can hunt fish properly! I’ll quickly eat this one and see if I can catch another one after, if I still feel hungry.

I’ve almost grown sick of eating those bugs day after day, and mollusks never really filled my belly enough. I have gotten my hands on quite a few pearls, but that doesn’t really justify eating them all the time. Especially since I haven’t found a way to make them into anything yet. They’re nothing more than household decorations right now. Pretty, but ultimately worthless the way they are.

I also saw that the bugs eat more than just mollusks, they’re carrion feeders. So they eat the dead fish that settle on the bottom of the ocean, keeping the ground free of rotting corpses along with certain fish that do the same thing. I like their taste, and they’re easy to catch, but I’m worried I’ll kill them all with how many I can eat in a day.

That may just be paranoia, but I really do need to start eating more fish. Mum always told me that I needed to have a varied diet to stay healthy, and that logic probably applies here too. Well, I can’t eat plants or anything like that, so I’ll just eat a bunch of different things that have meat on them to stay healthy.

Once I finally calm down, I lower myself down to the grassy bottom. It’s weird seeing this grass-like stuff growing out of the sand. It looks similar to the leaves of the sea trees, but is the length of my forearm and grows out of the sand instead of rocks. Well, whatever. It’s time to eat now. I settle myself on the soft grass, and tear into my prize. The bones crunch between my teeth, making soft little snapping noises as I grind them into powder.

I quickly work my way through the fish, dropping the fins and part of the spine down onto the grass when I finish. I let out a satisfied huff and run my tongue over my teeth again, making sure nothing got stuck in them. Hmmm, I think one of the bones got wedged into my gum, near the back of my mouth. I reach in, taking care not to nick my webbing with my teeth, and wiggle it loose. I pull the tiny rib bone out, and put it with the rest of the waste from my meal.

I lean back on my hands and stare at the rippling surface, spacing out as I start to digest. It’s just past noon, so I have plenty of time to hunt again. I could also re-mark my territory, since I haven’t touched up my scent markers in awhile.

My territory isn’t big, probably only a kilometre wide in diameter. It’s just big enough for me to maintain my scent marks on a regular basis, but I like to go exploring outside it every so often. Of course, I always make sure that I’m not running into another mer’s territory. I did resolve to defend my new home, but I don’t want to foolishly go around picking fights either. As long as I keep to myself, I should be ok.

Well, that’s enough resting. I should get going, and find another group of fish to hunt from. I push myself off of the grass and randomly head to the right, the opposite direction of my cave. I soon pass over one of my fading boundary markers, which is a large boulder that has many flowers blooming near the base. I swoop down and re-mark it as I pass, not bothering to much else as I look for food. Last time I checked, there weren’t any mers living in this direction. So hunting further out shouldn’t cause any issues.

I soon spot another group of fish. These ones are a pale green colour, and about the length of my arm. Catching one of these should fill me up completely, and probably give me plenty of leftovers for breakfast. So I set about stalking them, staying low to the ground as they head into a thicket of trees. Quickly picking a target out of the group, I start lining up my shot. I adjust my tail at the last moment and shoot up, clamping down on the unfortunate creatures’ slimy hide.

It’s just as I’m stabilizing myself, that I see it. There, amidst the swaying tree branches, is a merman. My hackles rise and I freeze, there wasn’t supposed to be any mers here! I didn’t smell any, otherwise I would’ve avoided this place! Wait, calm down. He doesn’t notice me yet, so I can slip away before he does.



 

Just as I start to move, the mer suddenly focuses his attention on me. I freeze again, and we observe each other for a moment. Most of him is obscured by the trees, I can only see his head and torso properly, but he looks about as big as that aggressive mer from before. His hair is an interesting colour, being half white and half red. It’s like a splash of blood against the snow.

His eyes, which have a curious glint to them, are also strange. They’re heterochromatic. One a grayish brown, which is on the white side, and the other is an aqua colour. The skin around the aqua eye, from his forehead to his cheekbone, is covered with vivid red scales. The spines of his ear fins are white with splotches of red, kind of like a dairy cow. Is his tail the same?

The fish that’s still in my mouth squirms, and the moment is over. The strange mer swims out into the open, and- ooh, he definitely has a cow pattern. Wait, it’s not the time for this! I’ve got to get away! My eyes widen and I let the injured fish go, rearing back and quickly turning around. I bolt in the direction of my cave, hoping to outrun him.

I make it past my boundary marker and plan to keep going towards my cave, but I hear the mer swimming through the trees behind me. What am I doing? I vowed to defend my home this time, didn’t I? He’s not planning to back off, so I have to make my stand here!

I grit my teeth, and swing around to face the quickly advancing mer. He’s almost caught up with me, I just have to wait for another second before he’s close enough. In the next moment I bring my hand up and swipe at the mer's face, hoping to get him with my claws. The mer ducks to the side, avoiding my claws completely. Shit! I threw myself off balance, now I’m wide open for attack!

I brace myself for impact, but nothing happens. I finally steady myself, and look over at the mer who hasn’t moved since he dodged. Not sure what’s going on, I shift back into a defensive stance. Strangely, the mer doesn’t seem to be hostile. If anything, he looks a little confused.

We observe each other for another moment, before the other mer turns his gaze to my scent marker. He looks at it for a moment, before looking back at me. He seems to come to a decision, and turns around to head back the way he came. It’s not until he’s out of sight that I relax, heaving out a tension filled sigh.

That was close! I don’t know what would’ve happened if we had a serious fight. I’m clearly too inexperienced in combat, and my swimming is still at a low level compared to a full blooded mer. But… it was so cool how he dodged out of the way like that, even though he was swimming relatively fast. Right, I just have to keep getting better, so that I can catch up to the naturals!

Buzzing with newfound determination, I turn and head back in the direction of my cave. I’ll go hunting some other time, I think I need a nap after all that excitement. In a few short minutes, I’m inside my cave and fluffing my bed. Hmm, I think I’ll have to change out the leaves soon. That stuff only lasts about a week before it starts to rot. I pout and curl up on my bed. I miss that sail, it was so perfect!


 

 

I’m sitting in a patch of grass an hour or so later, when I hear a soft chirp from behind. I look up from a colourful snail that I had been curiously poking, and warily turn around to see who had invaded my territory. It’s that mer from before! Why is he here!?

I squeak in alarm and immediately take a defensive stance, facing the two-toned mer fully. I tense up as the mer moves his arm, only to be thrown off guard from what he’s holding. Is… is that a fish? It’s not even dead, just squirming in his grip. I look up at the mer's face, confused eyes meeting expectant ones.

“Are- are you giving that to me?”

The mer just blinks at me, still holding the fish out expectantly. This is… bizarre. What’s going on here, what should I do? During my mental struggle, the mer starts to look confused himself. He tilts his head and gestures with the hand holding the fish, chirping questioningly. My brows furrow, but I still don’t take the fish.

“Why are you giving that to me?”

I still don’t get a reply, instead the mer looks down at the now exhausted fish. In one swift motion, he jerks the fish’s head to the side with an audible crack. He then holds it out again, this time letting go of it and letting it sink to the ground. The mer then slowly backs off to the edge of the clearing, clearly still waiting for me to take it. Just… what?

Can he not understand me? Is that why he’s not answering? Come to think of it, I didn’t understand those mers from before either. Why is that? Are we speaking a different language from each other? That would explain why I can’t understand him, or the others for that matter. How can I communicate then?

Well, before all that, I need to decide what I’m going to do with this situation. I’m not exactly sure why he’s in my territory offering me food, but I think it would be rude to refuse the offer. I am still hungry after all, and this will save me from going out to hunt again today.

Hesitantly, I lower myself to the ground and reach for the fish. This seems to please the other mer, and the creature swims off when I finally pick his gift up and begin to eat it. Well, whatever that was, the free food is appreciated.

Wait, that doesn’t change the fact that he was in my territory! I… I’m not sure how I feel about that anymore. I mean, if he was going to kick me out, he would’ve done that instead of giving me food. I didn’t see any other mers either, is he alone like me? Hmmm, that other mer had two others with him, maybe it’s normal to form a pack? But who would the dominant one be? Packs usually have a leader who’s usually the strongest/ the most experienced, and that certainly isn’t me in this situation.

I swallow the rest of my meal and sigh, letting the waste drop to the ground. I have almost no solid information. As long as I can’t communicate with this other mer, I won’t be getting any more either. I guess my new objective is trying to learn the language. That and keeping that other mer happy, I don’t really want to end up in another fight like last time.

Chapter Text

I glare down at the rock, seething at the sight of those red and white scales twinkling innocently in the dim light. That bastard really did just up and move in on my territory. Not only did he start rubbing his stink everywhere, he even erased and marked over my scent marks! Why? I was here first! I figured we were just going to be friendly neighbors or something, not housemates.

Well, he didn’t actually move into my cave with me, but it sure feels like he did. Oh well, no changing it now. If this is anything like with the last mer, then he’ll just erase any new markers I make. Looking back on it, that’s probably what made that other mer so angry in the first place. We just kept overwriting each other’s scents until we ended up coming to blows.

At least, I think that’s what will happen. I’m tempted to test my theory , but I really don’t want to upset this new arrival. I won’t learn anything from him by being intentionally antagoni stic . I mean, when you think about it, it’s not really that bad. I don’t even mean that in just a pros vs cons way.

I’m not completely sure why, but his scent doesn’t irritate me the same way that other mer’ s did. I don’t think it’s because their scents are different, but it’s hard to explain the exact reason why. I was very upset when he first chased me, and even more so when he snuck up behind me yesterday. Most of that feeling vanished when he gave me that fish though , leaving behind a mild feeling of wariness. I wonder why?

I shake my head, and leave that train of thought for later. I was in the middle of something after all. I was going around to touch up my scent markers, since I never got around to doing it yesterday, but that seems pointless now. It’s still morning, and I haven’t eaten yet. I guess I’ll just go hunting, I’ll find out where that guy went later.

I continue forward, past the scent mark, and deeper into the forest. The bigger fish like the clearings, since they have more room to swim around in them, and there’s a rather large one several met er s out in this direction . It has a lot of those strangely shaped rocks and flowers in it, it’s really quite beautiful. I like to take naps there sometimes, since I haven’t been bothered by anyone until yesterday .

I’ m just about to the clearing when I hear a chirp, followed by the rustling of the trees in front of me . The mer from yesterday then pops into view , looking surprised, but pleased, to see me. I stop just a met er away from him, a bit confused about what’s going on. I look down to see him holding a decent ly sized fish. Was he hungry too?

I wave and murmur a hello, making to move around him when he holds the fish out towards me. Again? I give him a tremulous smile as my stomach growls loudly, taking the squirming fish from him. I squeak out a thanks as I finally move around him and into the clearing. I ’m still not ready to deal with him yet, but I do need to start finding a way to communicate. How should I do that?

I nervously look back at the mer who has decided to follow me back into the clearing, maintaining a distance of one to two met er s. Well, that’s good, it saves me from having to track him down later. I settle on a rock that sits dead centre in the clearing, and finally kill the struggling fish. I take a bite out of its tender flesh, all while curiously eyeing the large mer who is now circling the tree line.

I continue eating while eyeing the mer’s odd behaviour. It seems like he’s patrolling the perimeter, keeping an eye on his surroundings while still keeping a discreet eye on me at the same time. Hmmm, is that a normal thing to do? Probably. The sea has many dangers after all, and one can’t be too careful. I feel my face flush a moment after that thought. What does that say about me, who loses all sense of danger once being given food?

I shake my head and finish the rest of my meal, I’ll work on that later. Right now, I need to establish some form of communication. I swallow the last bite, clearing my throat to grab the other mer’s attention.

U-um”

T he other mer stops his circling, and directs most of his attention towards me. Right. Not freaked out by that at all. No sir.

Um, my name is Izuku.”

The mer just blinks at me, a blank look on his face. Ah, right, using just words do esn ’t seem to work. Lets try some hand gestures to go along with it. I look him directly in the eye and point at my face, trying to look as serious as possible.

My name is Izuku. Izuku. Midoriya Izuku.”

The mer tilts his head, suddenly focusing on my words. His eyebrows scrunch together, his face pinching from concentration. I try not to chuckle at the sight, but some noise slip s through.

I… zu… ku?”

I grin and nod enthusiastically.

That’s right! Izuku!”

The mer repeats the word a few more times, becoming more comfortable with the sound s with each iteration. I clap in delight when he manages to say it without stuttering, which leaves the other mer looking all chuffed. He freezes though, when I point at him.

And what’s your name?”

T he mer blinks again, not seeming to register the query. He just continues to look pleased and swims uncomfortably close to me. He reaches out towards me, looking like he’s going to grab me. I squeak in alarm and swat his hands away, leaving the rock and putting some distance between us. What’ s all that about?

T he mer looks unhappy that I moved away from him, but doesn’t pursue me. He just looks up at me with a confused expression, while moving his hands back to his sides. The mer coos at me, looking apologetic while making abortive movements in my direction. I frown but ignore the strange behaviour for a more pressing concern, the mer’s name.

I point at myself again, which silences the other as he pays attention again.

My name is Izuku.”

Izuku.”

I nod at the response and point at him again. I decide to use a simpler approach than last time. I tilt my head, purposefully looking curious.

Name?”

The mer tilts his head in confusion, clicking softly until a comprehensible noise comes out.

N-ay-me?”

Oh Christ. One more time then. I point at myself for the third time, keeping the exasperated look off my face.

Name Izuku. Izuku.”

I then point at him and ask his name. Other than repeating my name again, the other mer doesn’t answer me. I scowl down at the sand, tugging on my hair in frustration. I don’t even know what to make of this. Instead of learning the mer’s language, he seems to be learning mine! I can’t even get a name out of him! I can’t exactly call him You or That Mer now can I? What do I do now?

Izuku?”

I look up to see the other mer hovering in front of me. He looks concerned, but keeps his distance from me. I watch this for awhile, not really processing it, until I finally sigh and start swimming away. My head hurts, I’ll think about it later. For now I want to see what’s around. Hunting can take up a lot of time and energy and, thanks to a certain mer, I now have quite a bit of spare time.


 

 

I had to give up trying to learn the other mer’s name, or even learning his language for that matter. I’m not exactly sure about it, but I don’t think mers have a language of their own. Well, this one doesn’t anyway. It doesn’t make any sense. He picks up words and uses them just fine, so I don’t think it’s an intelligence issue.

I glower down at my tail fins, head propped up in my hands. I’m not going to get any new information this way, at least not until he learns a lot more words. And grammar. I huff and thump my tail against my rocky perch in frustration. I’m just going to have to give him a name and keep teaching him words then.

What should I call him? I’ve never had to name anything before, so I don’t really know where to start. English names are so boring though. S hould I give him one from my grandparent’s home country? They immigrated from a country called Nippon(1) when they were young, and my family has used names from that country since, as a kind of tradition.

Right, that’s settled then. Now what name should I give him? I’ m not very familiar with the language, but I know some basic words. Hmmm, what would suit him? I can’t really go off his personality right now, but what about his looks? He’s both white as snow, and red as blood… o r fire. Shouto(2) then?

Izuku?”

I look up to see Shouto swimming over to me, fish in hand. My eyes twitches when I see the scaly thing. Will he ever give up with that? He’s been handing me two to three fish a day since we met, and then following me around until I go to bed. The only time he doesn’t, is when he’s out patrolling or something. So other than nighttime, I only get an hour or two of privacy per day. Well, I ’ll just ignore it for now. I still want to stay on his good side after all.

Izuku. Fish.”

S houto hold s said creature out, waiting for me to take it. How do I say this? I ate just a little while ago, so I’m not hungry right now. Why is he coddling me? Does he think that I can’t hunt for myself or something? Do I come off as that unreliable? I pout at him and shake my head.

No thanks, I don’t want it.”

Shouto looks confused and tilts his head. He waves the fish at me when I don’t move to take it from him.

Izuku? Fish.”

I frown and push his hand away.

No. I don’t want it. I ate already.”

This makes him frown as well, but he doesn’t look angry at the refusal. He looks down at the fish, pondering it for a moment. He then breaks its spine and drops it, much like he did a few days ago. He back off again, looking at me hopefully. I huff irritably and start swimming away. I really can’t deal with this right now, I’m not some infant!

I ignore him , even as he start s following and making concerned noises. Whatever, I’m just going to go exploring again. Oh wait, I should teach Shouto his name first, before I forget. I swing around and jab my finger in his face. Needless to say, this startles the other mer. He gives me a bewildered look, but I ignore it. Like so many other things in my life right now.

Your name is Shouto. Shouto. Understand?”

He blinks, a blank look taking over his face. Right, simple terms. He’s not that articulate yet. I point at myself.

Izuku.”

Then point at him again.

Shouto.”

Comprehension dawns in his eyes and he points at himself.

Sh-ou-to?”

I nod and grin at him.

Right. Shouto.”

He murmurs the name some more, and I decide to just leave it at that. Time to go exploring! I want to go in this direction, north I think, for an hour and see what I find. Shouto continues to follow behind me, already in a better mood.


 

 

I’ ve only been swimming for thirty minutes, when I come across the mast of a boat. Ooh, I haven’t seen this before. I wonder where the hull is, it should be nearby. Unfortunately, there isn’t much a sail anymore . Just a few tattered strips that flutter against their restraints. Well I can use th em , its just not enough for a bed.

A s Shouto swims around the area, I start searching around for the hull. It doesn’t take me long to find what’s left of it nearby. The boat likely shattered apart when it sank, because there seems to only be broken boards scattered around. There might not be anything interesting among them, but I start picking through them anyway.

S houto sends a brief glance my way when I flip the first board over, but doesn’t stop patrolling the area. Doesn’t he ever get tired of that? Its gotta be very tedious and boring after the second lap. I shrug at the thought, and move on to the next piece.

The fourth piece I move is much heavier, being a sizable chunk of the hull. I don’t really need to move it though, just see what’s under it. So I brace my tail against the sand, and grip the curved, jagged wood. I give it a good heave, but I barely manage to lift it off the ground before my arms give out from the strain.

I squeal from shock, but the wood never falls back onto the sand. I look at the extra pair of hands that are placed next to mine, and look up at Shouto’s concerned face. I smile at him in thanks, only slightly env ious the other’s strength. I just need more practice, then I can be as strong as him.

Together, we flip the connected boards over and I squea k happily at what I find. It looks to be a small chest, probably meant to contain valuables of some kind safe during travel. Shouto hovers above me curiously, as I carefully remove the flat rectangular box from the sand. I t’s only a few centimeters deep, but is as long as my forearm. I wonder what’s inside?

T he lock and clasp have long since rusted away, making the container easy to open. The contents are rather exciting, since they’re jewels. There aren’t many of them, and only a few have already been processed , but they’re beautiful nonetheless. The refined ones are white M oonstones, which have been carved and polished into a long oval shape. I pick one up and hold it up to the light, admiring the enchanting adularescent sheen the opaque gem gives off.

I put it back down in the case with the five others, and examine the small red gems. These haven’t been refined, so their shapes are rough and uneven. They’re about the size of my thumb, and a deep red colour. Hmmm. I hold one of the three gems up to the light, observing the colour as well as the quality.

If these were rubies, they’d be very valuable just due to their size, but they aren’t. That doesn’t mean they’re worthless however, Pyrope Garnet has many uses in jewelry. These have a nice rose colour, with only a hint of brown, and are almost flawless. With their size, they could easily be made into pendants. Sigh, if only I had the tools to do so.

Well, they’re still pretty, and the box is already useful on its own . So I’m going to take them home with me, along with what I can salvage of the sail. I plop the rocks back into the box and look up at Shouto, who’s been watching my actions with fascination. I smile at him and hand him the box, snickering at his confused look.

He follows behind me, as I set about gathering up the scraps of fabric. There’s only enough to fashion into a pillow, but that’s just fine. I pile them all together, with the largest piece on the bottom, and take my box back from Shouto’s lax grip. I place it in the centre of the pile, and tie the fabric around it. There, now I can transport it easily.

I pick up the makeshift pouch in one of my hands, and start off back home. Shouto trails behind me quietly, ever vigilant to our surroundings. I’m either going to get used to him following me one day, or I’m going to break him of it. I haven’t decided which yet, but I’ll let it happen for now. I’m in a really good mood right now.

Chapter Text

The last few days have been rather peaceful. Sure, there was a really bad storm the other day, but other than that things have been nice. Storms are really scary underwater, since the water sloshes around and stirs everything up. I had to stay inside my cave the entire time, just to avoid getting dashed against the rocks whenever the water heaved. I’m not sure what Shouto was doing during that time, or even where he lives, but he seemed to be ok the next day.

Other than popping in once in a while to check on me and see if I’m hungry, Shouto has been leaving me alone for the most part. I don’t really know what he’s been doing that has been taking up so much of his time, but I’m enjoying the solitude despite the nagging curiosity. Because alone time is what I’ve been wanting, right? I mean, he’s been following me around since we met, what changed?

I shake my head violently and smack my cheeks. No, I’m not going to do this again. I have a day to myself and I’m going to enjoy it. He probably just wanted some alone time as well. I lower my hands and get back to what I was doing before getting lost in thought, again.

Today I’ve been poking around the territory, trying to see how far Shouto had extended it. Other than marking over my original scent marks, it seems that he’s been marking even farther out. I discovered it earlier this morning, when I stumbled on his scent marker that was another kilometer or so beyond any of the ones that I had made previously. So now I’m trying to find all of them, if only to have something to do.

That’s another thing that’s changed about my life, the boredom. Sure, there were slow and peaceful days when I was a human, but not on this level. Other than eating, going to the bathroom, and replacing the leaves for the bed, there’s nothing I really have to do anymore. I mean, I do try to teach Shouto as many words as I can, and he’s rather quick on the uptake. But as I said earlier, he’s been off doing his own thing lately. Nope, not going there, get back on track. Scent marks, yeah.

The new marks aren’t in a perfect circle around the territory. If my mental map is correct, then it’s more of a wavy, jagged pattern. It extends out to include certain clearings with lots of fish in them, or dips back to exclude others. The pattern of the marks isn’t really all that odd, he’s just been claiming the good hunting areas while still making it a reasonable amount of space to maintain. What’s odd is the scent itself.

It’s subtle, but it smells darker somehow, less pleasant then the marks he leaves closer to home. Why? Is it to send a different message? These ones are obviously to ward off other mers, stating clearly that this territory is taken. So what do the others mean? Despite me not marking anywhere new since he moved in, Shouto likes to mark the areas I frequent the most. The scent he uses there is much more comfortable to be around than the one he’s using here.

It used to make me feel tingly whenever I caught a whiff of it, much like when I was back at my old home, but I’ve gotten used to it now. Especially since I’ve been relieving those urges on a regular basis. Does this mean I’ve been scent marking wrong? If so, how would I go about doing it properly. And just what messages have I been conveying? That aggressive mer obviously reacted violently to me, whereas Shouto simply acted all friendly, if a little needy.

Well, he’s been acting more like he’s trying to butter me up. Oh, does the feeling or intent behind the mark effect the scent? I was pretty upset and angry when that mer was marking up my house, and I really was intending to challenge him when I marked over it. It’s no wonder that mer was so aggressive. Right, I’m even more confident that it was just a territory battle. I was simply too inexperienced to fight back. But that still doesn’t explain Shouto’s behaviour.

I’ve realized now that I had grossly overreacted when I first met him. I had just assumed that he would be aggressive towards me and ran away on instinct. I mean, if he had actually wanted to attack me, I wouldn’t have made it very far. I’m not sure what his original intentions towards me were, but my scent marker seemed to have some kind of an effect, since he cleared off when he noticed it. Of course he showed up later with a gift, acting all friendly and not like he was intruding in someone else’s territory.

Did my scent marker mean something else then? I made it with the clear intention of saying this place was mine, so why did it get such a strange reaction? What if-

“Izuku?”

I squeak, and body lurches in surprise. I turn towards Shouto, an indignant look on my face.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that! You scared me half to death!”

Shouto doesn’t react to my words, he just continues to give me a concerned look. He swims in close to me, a frown etched onto his face.

“Izuku. No.”

‘No’ was one of the words he picked up the fastest, though he never really used it with me until now. I think he just learned it so he knew when I didn’t want food. It’s rather strange to hear it from him now, since he never tried to refuse me anything. What’s he saying no to anyway?

I tilt my head and give him a confused look. This seems to agitate Shouto more, and he swims close enough to grab me with his left hand. He’s careful about it, probably remembering my fright from his first attempt, and he gently tugs away from the scent marker he’s glancing at.

“Izuku. No. Come here.”

Oh, he’s upset with my proximity to the boundary. Does he not want me to leave the territory? I wasn’t really planning on it right now, but his reaction is interesting. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but I let him pull me away from the edge of our territory.

He leads us through a patch of trees and into another clearing, which has clusters of rocks dotted around it. He lets go of my arm and I swim over to a rather large boulder and settle down on it, looking up at Shouto while absently scratching at my scales. Shouto brings his right arm forward, and I suddenly notice that he’s been holding something in it this whole time. I tilt my head, curious about what it could be. The larger mer opens his hand and I see the glint of metal in his palm.

“N-No way!”

I shoot up from my perch and quickly approach the mer, who has frozen from my sudden movement. I excitedly grab his hand and take a closer look at the small object. Oh my god it is! In Shouto’s palm is a gold coin, which shines in the dim afternoon light. I pluck the cold metal from his hand, and examine the small symbols and writing stamped into the metal.

It seems to originate from Scotland, which makes this a Unite(1), and is reasonably valuable. I eye the banker’s mark(2) and refrain from scratching the metal, since the coin is obviously genuine. I squeal in delight and immediately hug Shouto, my arms squeezing around his chest.

“Thank you so much! I love it!”

I let go of the still frozen mer, and sit back down on the boulder. I twirl the coin around, taking in all the details. I barely notice the whistling coo that comes from Shouto, as he slowly sits down next to me. I only look over at him when he gently touches my right shoulder, giving me a look of both caution and hope. I smile at him and lean my shoulder against his chest. I blush at my bold actions, but allow Shouto’s arms to wrap around me.

I focus my attention back on my gift, blushing more when Shouto’s face nuzzles into my hair. He must really like hugging. Oh well. Its not like I’m not enjoying the contact, so I’ll just let him be for now. I hum as we sit quietly together.

I flush in embarrassment when my stomach rumbles, which catches Shouto’s attention. I meekly look up at him when he pulls away slightly. He cocks his head, a considering look on his face.

“Izuku hungry?”

I nod sheepishly.

“A-ah. Yes. Yes I am.”

He nods, a serious look on his face. He slides away from me and swims out of the clearing, and into a stand of trees. Before I can settle back to observe the scenery, Shouto shoots back out and into the midst of a large colony of fish. My eyes widen as he easily captures not one, but two rather large fish. One is squirming between his jaws, and the other is now clenched in his hand.

I’d feel jealous of the mer’s skill, but the emotion doesn’t even register with how breathtaking Shouto looks. His scales practically shimmer in the sunlight, and his hair swirls around his face from his momentum. His lean muscles bunch and twitch with each movement as he gracefully twists through the water. His face is calm and composed, like he was simply doing something boring and mundane. God, he makes hunting look so effortless!

Shouto quickly kills both fish and turns back towards me, effectively snapping me out of my awe filled daze. I shake my head slightly and smile up at him, tucking my present under my tail for safe keeping. It would be awkward to eat with it in my hand after all. I hope he didn’t mind my gawking, I’m kind of surprised with my own audacity.

Shouto sets himself down again, and offers both fish to me. I stammer out a thank you and begin eating, leaving one of the fish on my lap for later. Shouto watches me eat silently for a moment, before sliding his arms around me again. He starts nuzzling into my hair again, just behind my ear fin, and starts nibbling at the skin there. I squirm a bit at the sensation, but soon decide that I like it. That area has been a bit itchy lately, so what he’s doing feels really good. It’s amazing how gentle he can be with those sharp teeth of his.

I finish the first fish, and toss the waste to the side. Hmmm, I’m still a little hungry. Just before I pick up the second fish, Shouto suddenly moves one of his arms, running his wrist down my torso. He’s careful to keep his clawed hand away from my skin, and does the same thing along my back when I don’t push him away. I look at him with confusion, but his face doesn’t reveal anything except content joy.

Instead, he starts to nibble along my shoulders, while his arms wrap around my waist. I look down at his red and white hair, which is tickling my skin. Is- is he nibbling on my freckles? Well, they aren’t really freckles anymore. It seems that, when I transformed, all my freckles turned into tiny patches of scales. I never really paid attention to them before now, but they seem to be the same colour as my tail. Are the ones on my face the same way?

I watch him for another moment before it clicks in my head. Oh! He’s grooming me! Should- should I do it to him too? Wait, the only patch of scales on his skin is the one on his face. That, that would be a little too intimate. Wouldn’t it? But… I do feel bad for just receiving all the time. I should at least give something back, even if it’s just a little.

I quickly finish off the second fish, and turn towards the other mer. Shouto leans back from me when I move, blinking at me curiously. I look into is eyes for a moment, feeling embarrassed and a little unsure. What if I hurt him? I then shake my head, and raise my hands to his face.

His skin is rather smooth, and I just take a moment to rub my thumbs along his cheekbones. He watches me curiously, making a low, inquisitive noise, but doesn’t pull my hands away. I then muster up my courage, and lean in towards him. My lips brush against his forehead, and I part them to allow my teeth to graze against the red scales. I pause for just a moment before carefully starting to nibble along the other’s brow.

Shouto hums lowly and runs his hands along my shoulders soothingly. This is… interesting. I can taste and feel his tiny scales fall into my mouth as I move my way along his brow. He swipes his wrists along my sides as I move down to his cheekbone, avoiding his eye for now. I don’t really trust myself with that. He can probably just get it himself later.

I pull away once I’m done, and he rubs our cheeks together before giving me a lick to my jaw. I flush and let out a squeak, immediately rubbing the spot with my hand. He gives me a fond smile before leaving the boulder and swimming away. I- that… oh dear.

Chapter Text

I look down at the gifts that Shouto had given me, and consider what to do with them. After I accepted the coin that Shouto gave me a few weeks ago, he’s been bringing me more and more trinkets. It’s usually some shiny stones that are basically worthless, but he occasionally brings something interesting. Like the silver necklace he gave me yesterday afternoon.

I never really have the heart to refuse his gifts, but I think he’s starting to figure out that I’m not interested in just any old rock. He’s never made any attempt to enter my home, but he has been close enough to see that anything that I’m not terribly interested in decorates the sand outside, while the favoured ones get stored inside. He’s been subtly altering what he gives me based on what makes the cut from previous offerings.

I still don’t have a clue what his behaviour towards me means, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was trying to court me. I’m not a woman though, so maybe mers just express their friendship in such a way. Should I be giving him gifts too? Would that be the correct thing to do? I’m not sure what would be right, but I have this tiny part of me saying that I don’t need to do anything. That I just need to wait and see. See what though.

I don’t really want to worry about it, so for now I’m just going to use what I have to make something, since I finally have enough materials. I pick up the necklace, running my fingers along the tarnished silver chain before resting them on the broken pendant. I suspect there was a stone attached to it at some point, but now there’s only the bent tarnished metal of the disc that likely held it. It’s rather useless and ugly as it is, so I carefully remove it from the bail(1).

Once the metal has been worked free, I pick the coin up from the pile of gifts. I rotate it in my fingers for a moment, trying to see which would be the best side, before bringing it to my lips. I pierce the soft metal with one of my fangs, and observe the resulting hole. I nod with satisfaction, and attach it to the bail.

I then take a couple round pearls that already have holes in them, and thread them through so one is on each side. I then re-attach the clasps on the ends of the chain by bending the chain loops back together. Well, it’s rather rough looking, and the colours clash a bit, but I like it. If I manage to get some proper gem and metal working tools, then I can do a much better job. Until then, things like this will be the best that I can do.

Once done admiring my creation, I wrap it around my waist and fasten it behind me. Because of my gills, and how sensitive they are, I don’t think it’s a good idea to wear it around my neck. The chain drapes down the front of my tail, the coin resting just over my slit. A wave of giddiness washes though me and I twist this way and that, even going so far as to twirl while admiring my creation.

I then look up and go outside the cave. For some reason, I really feel like showing off. Hmmm, I wonder where Shouto is. I don’t think he went far, I can probably call out for him to see where he is. He’s been staying pretty close this last week, only venturing off to find little trinkets to give to me.

“Shouto? Where are you?”

My voice rings out into the mid-afternoon gloom, and I don’t have to wait long before I get a faint response.

“Izuku? Here.”

I follow the soft voice into a clearing that’s only a short distance away. Shouto is facing me, clutching a half eaten fish between his fingers. He looks at me, his head tilted in curiosity. I smile at him and swim close, drawing his attention down towards my hips as I wave my hand towards my new accessory.

“Look what I made! Isn’t it pretty?”

Shouto’s eyes drift down my body and catch on the necklace, watching as it sways back and forth from the movements of my hips. Something glimmers within his eye, and he makes this pleased little hum as his hooded eyes gaze at my treasure. His hand reaches out towards it, pausing when his eyes flick up towards mine. Searching for permission to touch, fingers outstretched.

I smile at him and nod, flipping belly up to give him a better view. This seems to make his whole body freeze, eyes widening in disbelief. The half eaten fish slowly floats down towards the sand, as the fingers grasping it loosen from shock. I frown and chirp with concern, did I do something wrong? His hesitation doesn’t last beyond my little chirp, as he jerks a little and lets out a soothing hum. His hands start moving towards me, curiously inspecting my work. He seems to have this smug gleam in his eye, as he watches the way the object sways against the gentle current.

His mismatched eyes glance up at mine, as his hands settle along my waistline. I look up at him curiously. Is he wanting to cuddle some more? I give him a shy smile, which Shouto takes as permission to continue. I don’t mind the grooming and cuddling, it always makes me feel nice. It also helps keep my scales from feeling itchy when they get old and start to flake off.

So it’s rather strange when I get this strange feeling in my gut when Shouto starts nibbling along the edge of my tail and belly. The end of my tail flicks involuntarily when he smooths his hands down over my side fins. My smile disappears when I feel a familiar tingling sensation along my slit. My face flushes in embarrassment. Oh no, not now! Don’t do this now! Why is this happening? I’m not even playing with myself right now! Please god, don’t let my member pop out right in his face!

I squeak and look down as Shouto lets out a deep growl, and tightens his grip on my hips. He has this strange heated look on his face as he hovers just above my slit, which is leaking this strange substance. Time seems to slow down as I hold my breath, waiting to see what happens. Shouto suddenly pulls his face away, and shimmies his way up my body until we’re face to face. His growl hasn’t ceased, and I shiver as I feel it vibrate through me where our skin touches.

He shimmies his hips, staring down at me with this hungry look. Feeling overwhelmed, I look back down where his tail is slithering along mine, languid and slow. Shouto gives out a frustrated grunt, and lets go of my hip with his right hand to flick the coin out of the way, putting my leaking slit on full display. What?

Shouto starts purring again, and strokes his thumb along the sensitive flesh. My breath hitches as his clawed finger slips its way inside, and my brain shuts down for just a moment.

>SLAP<

I blink back into reality, my hand throbbing from the force of my hand hitting Shouto’s face. My breathing is ragged and I feel panic settle in my bones. Shouto has this bewildered and confused expression, slowly turning to look at me as he brings his hand up to his swelling cheek. I feel my eyes widen even more as I start to stammer.

I-ah. I mean- what? I- I need to go!”

I turn tail and run, leaving a frozen Shouto behind as I book it back to my cave. What just happened!?


 

After burying myself in my bed and having a delightful panic attack, I finally calm down enough to think about what happened. There’s no other way to look at it other than what it was, sex. Well, not quite, but I’m pretty sure it would’ve gone there if I hadn’t reacted the way I did . Was Shouto always aiming for that? Was he only acting that way just to have sex with me?

I go back over every single one of our interactions since we met, and it suddenly becomes obvious that I’ve unwittingly been going along with some mer mating ritual. I mean, with all the gifts and skin-ship, what else could it be? That makes sense to me now. What doesn’t is why ?

If I were female, the advances would be understandable. Sex is meant to ensure the survival of a species, and it is our god given duty to do so once entered in holy matrimony. But, but I’m male! Two men can neither get married, nor can they have children together! So what is the purpose of trying to court me! Does he not know such relations are a sin?

I groan and bury my head into my sailcloth pillow. He’s not human, so probably not. That still doesn’t answer why he would pay me such attention. Are there no females around? I haven’t seen any since I changed form, and I’ve only heard tales of them before that. Is that it then? Does he just want help relieving his own tensions, like I’ve been doing to myself?

I frown and shake my head. No, if it was just that, he’d use his hand like I do. At least, I assume so? Wait, how would two men even have sex anyway? Well, I guess rubbing our penises would work, but is that even considered sex? He didn’t seem to be going for that when his thumb, ah, entered me. Wait, was he going for my- my… butt?

I squeak and cover my face. That would never work! That’s for excreting only! That would feel so painful if he tried to stick something in there! Wouldn’t it? Now that I think about it, it felt almost good when he touched me there. Would it feel good if I did it ? I vigorously shake my head, trying to rid myself of the thought. Even if it felt good, gross stuff comes out of there!

I sigh and rub my belly. Leaving aside the logistics of such a relationship, would I even want to be with him? In that way? I roll onto my back and look through my little s ky light. Could I? I mean, he is rather attractive. What with that lean and toned body, gorgeous hair and eyes, and those shimmering scales. I groan again as my hand moves on its own, slipping its way down to my throbbing slit.

Ok, he’s attractive to me. I’ll deal with that revelation later. Do I love him though? Could I be with him for the rest of my life? I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about all of this, it’s just so sudden! How do I even treat him from now on? I liked our relationship before this. Do I have to have sex with him to still be close to him?

Maybe we don’t have to. I’ve probably sending the wrong signals, since I’ve been misinterpreting his behaviour before now. I just have to draw a line, and not cross it. Shouto’s always been considerate when I didn’t want to be touched, even asks permission now. So it’s not like I can’t keep telling him no until I figure things out. I just won’t present my belly like that again, so he doesn’t think I want… those things from him.

W ith that settled, I dip my fingers into my slit and pull my engorged member out. I shudder and sigh with relief as I begin squeezing and stroking the shaft. A thought pops into my head, reminding me of where Shouto had his thumb earlier. If I hadn’t panicked and slapped him, how would he have touched me?

I shift about, trying to get more comfortable while I consider it. With a shrug of my shoulders, I slip two of my fingers a little further down and slide them inside. Wait. This isn’t my anus.

I blink up at the ceiling, and then prop myself up to get a better view. I take a good look at my slit, just below my genitals. I never noticed it before, but my slit is rather long compared to Shouto’s. My face flushes at the realization that I had been looking at Shouto in such a shameful manner, but ultimately ignore it in favour of my mounting curiosity. If my, uh, poop comes out at the base of my slit, and my penis comes out at the top, what’s the middle bit hold?

W ell, won’t know unless I go for it. I prod my fingers at this new opening and gasp. Oh, that’s definitely where Shouto was touching me earlier. It’s so sensitive! I plunge my fingers in deeper, stroking the smooth walls carefully, not wanting to nick myself with my claws. I flop back onto my bed and start stoking in earnest, paying attention to my neglected penis again.

I let out a long moan and shudder, this feels amazing! What is this thing? No, think about it later. Work on cumming now. After a few more tugs, I cum with a thump of my tail.

I let my arms fall bonelessly to my side, and just bask in the afterglow. Ah ~ that hit the spot. As the tingly numb feeling leaves my body, I open my eyes and hold my fingers above my face. T here’s this strange, clear, mucus like substance coating them.

Ok, now I can freak out again .

Chapter Text

As morning comes around, so does a realization. The way I treated Shouto yesterday, while understandable considering the circumstances, was terrible. Shouto has been nothing but caring and considerate towards me this whole time, and did not deserve to be attacked due to a misunderstanding on my part. I need to apologize to him, make sure he understands that I didn’t mean to hurt him.

So, with that thought in mind, I exit my cave in search of the other mer. I call out a few times, but don’t get a response. So I’m forced to try and locate him myself. The strange thing is, even after how long he’s been living here, I have no idea where his home is. I mean, I never really thought about it much, since he’s either just following me around or is off doing his own thing. I never really went out of my way to see where he slept before, and none of the other caves seem to be occupied.

After ten minutes of wandering aimlessly, I stop calling out to preserve my throat. After another ten minutes, I manage to locate him in one of the smaller clearings near the edge of the territory. He’s laying on his side, and hasn’t seemed to notice me yet. He’s curled up with his tail tucked into his chest, and is poking at one of those oval insects dejectedly. The sight makes me wilt from a fresh wave of guilt. I must have really upset him.

“Shouto?”

Shouto’s body jerks and he whirls around to look at me, surprise evident in his wide eyes. I see the greenish blue tint of a bruise on his cheek, and the guilt gnaws at me more. I look down, twiddling my fingers nervously, before meekly looking back up. This won’t do, I need to apologize, that’s why I came here.

So I take a deep breath, and cautiously approach him. Shouto doesn’t move, just watches me with a closed off expression. I reach out towards his face once I’m close enough, but hesitate before touching his cheek. It’s bruised, what if I hurt him more? I pull my hand back and look down at the mossy rock Shouto’s perched on.

Shouto takes hold of my hand, then brings it up to his cheek. I snap my head up to look at him, and he gives me a tentative smile. I whimper and give in to the urge to cuddle. I quickly tuck myself into his side and he wraps his arms around me, a content growl rumbling through his chest. He rubs the skin of his wrists down my back, and we just sit there for a moment.

I noticed the first time he rubbed me with his wrists like that, that his scent had rubbed off on my body. It had clung to me where his wrists had rubbed me, even after hours had passed. Every time we cuddle or groom each other, he does it again, putting it on wherever he can reach with a practiced hand. I had assumed that it was part of a pack thing, like how some animals share scent with each other. While that still may be true, I now have to consider the fact that it may have to do with courting as well.

I resist the urge to sigh, so as not to alert Shouto to my frustration. It’s not his fault we have such limited communication. So until Shouto learns to speak better, I’m going to have to be a lot more aware of our body language and what it may mean. Or how it could be interpreted.

I also need to decide what to do about the whole courting situation. I may find the other mer attractive, and I like all the cuddles and stuff, but I don’t know if I want to have sex with him. I’m not even sure what my feelings for him are. On one hand, I like his company and interacting with him. On the other, I may just be lonely, and clinging to the only creature that has been nice and spoken to me so far.

Well, one thing at a time. It’s not like I really have to do anything about it now. Well, other than apologize for hitting him. How am I going to do that anyway? I’ve never had to apologize to him before, so he won’t know the word. And just giving him something might lead to another misunderstanding.

I squirm around and look up into his eyes, which look curious, but mostly relaxed. Right, I’ll just have to rely on body language so he understands the word. I put on a remorseful expression, which isn’t that hard once I look at his bruised cheek again, and gently stroke the inflamed flesh.

“Sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

He looks down at me with the same look he uses every time he’s learning a new word, and then cocks his head to the side.

“So-rry?”

I nod, keeping the guilty look on my face. I pull my hand back, and rest it on his chest. The then gets this distant look in his eyes as he absently rubs his cheek. He repeats the word to himself quietly, when he suddenly looks nostalgic, or sad.

The next time he repeats the word, he does this weird thing with his hand. He clenches it into a fist and makes a circular motion over his chest, right where his heart would be. Before I can make any comment, my stomach rumbles, which draws Shouto’s attention. I feel my skin flush as I quickly cover my stomach. Jeez, way to break the moment!

“Izuku hungry?”

My eyes are drawn back to his hand, which is making another gesture over his chest. I look back up at his face, and he’s just looking at me questioningly, not seeming to notice what he’s doing with his hand. He’s never made hand gestures like that before. Do they mean someth-.

“Izuku?”

Breaking out of my thoughts, I look up at Shouto’s inquiring eyes.

“Eh? Ah! Yes, I’m hungry.”

I jerkily nod, embarrassed about staring at him like that. I look down at the ground, and notice the insects crawling around. Oh, I forgot those were there. I feel Shouto get up, and I quickly grab his arm.

“Wait.”

His movements halt and he looks down at me, brows knitting together in confusion. I give him a soft smile and point down at the insects.

“You don’t need to go anywhere, we can eat those.”

Shouto looks down at them, but doesn’t seem to understand what I mean. I chuckle at him and tug on his arm again, leading him to sit back down next to me. He seems reluctant, but does so anyway. I then get up, and hold my hands up when he tries to follow.

“Stay.”

This is a word he knows, and he obeys, despite looking annoyed at the command. I smile at him again, before swooping down and plucking up a couple insects. I grab them from behind, taking care to avoid their large claws. I then swim back up and hold one out for Shouto to take.

Instead of grabbing it, he just gives it this perplexed look. I scrunch my eyebrows and wave it at him, further startling the creature in my hand. Does he not want it? Before I can retract my offering, Shouto hesitantly takes it, also avoiding its claws.

“Thank you?”

He gives me a puzzled look, but doesn’t do anything with it. Oh, he doesn’t know it’s food. Do mers not usually eat these? I guess I’ll just show him then. These things are delicious, and I haven’t eaten one in a while. He has no idea what he’s missing.

Making sure he’s still watching me, I smash the creature down on the rock, cracking the tough shell enough for me to get at the meat inside. I scoop some of the flesh out and pop it into my mouth, moaning at the salty taste. It’s so good!

I dig out some more meat and watch Shouto contemplating his own food. He then mimics me, and smashes the creature down on the rock. I enviously note that he managed to hit the creature with more force than me, since there’s more cracks on it than on mine.

I smile encouragingly at him when he looks at me again, and he digs his claws into the insects soft flesh. He pulls out a sliver of meat and nibbles on it. He freezes when it touches his tongue, before looking up at me with wide eyes. He makes another gesture, quickly mumbling out another thank you as he begins eating in earnest. I chuckle a little at the sight. I guess he likes it.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take me long to figure out the gestures were a form of communication, and it took even less time after mimicking Shouto for him to start teaching me. I now know most of the gestures for every word Shouto knows. I’m still a bit shaky with some of them, but Shouto always corrects me with a fond smile that never fails to make me blush. I even know his real name now(1), though he still responds to the vocal version when I use it.

He even gave me a name using his own language. When he first used it while saying my name, I only understood the gesture for green. When I asked him what the other two meant, he twisted his finger through one of my curls and gave the lock a gentle tug. I’m not sure if I should be offended at being given the name Curly Green Hair, but his is literally Red And White so I won’t make a fuss about it.

I don’t know why he’s never used or shown this language to me before now, and neither of us have the shared vocabulary for me to ask just yet. I have a few speculations, like him not knowing enough of my language to start translating it into his own, or maybe not thinking I could learn it. Though, after thinking back to when Shouto first used the language, and the sad, nostalgic look he had, I’m thinking it’s more likely that he simply didn’t have anyone to talk to with it until now. Just like me.

That does raise questions of it’s own though. Like, why would he use gestures to speak in the first place since his vocal chords work just fine. He’s not deaf either, though humans don’t generally speak that way either with such an impairment(2). Is it the mer language? If so, why didn’t he try using it to communicate with it before now? He never even tried to communicate beyond using body language, and making noises any animal or infant would make to convey emotion. Wait, if he’s like me, and had no one to talk to before now, could he-

“Izuku talk a lot.”

I yelp and whirl around, looking up to see Shouto hovering above me, fish in hand. I feel my face flush, and I start to stammer. Oh god, I was muttering again!

“Ah, um, s-sorry I-“

I just manage to fumble through the apology gesture when Shouto grabs my hand and shakes his head. He then smiles gently at me and places his hand over his chest. He pinches his middle finger and thumb together and pulls away from his chest.

“No sorry, Shouto like.”

I flush even more and hide my face in hands. How can he just say things like that!?

“Izuku?”

I shake my head and look back up at him.

“I.”

He cocks his head at me. I mimic his earlier hand gesture.

“I like. Not Shouto, I.”

He makes a noise of comprehension and nods, repeating the phrase. I give him a smile and he hands me the fish that he had gone off earlier to get. I’ve been getting hungrier and hungrier lately. I used to be fine with eating one or two fish a day, but this is my fourth today and it’s barely past noon.

The change in appetite has certainly shown on my body too. I was pretty lean before, the muscles I had built up from swimming had eaten up a lot of the baby fat that I had as a human. Now, though, I’ve gotten rather plump. My face has gotten slightly rounder, my belly a little softer, but my hips and tail have seen the most growth. My hips and tail have bulked up considerably from a layer of fat, insulating me even more from the chilly waters.

In addition to the increased appetite and weight gain, I’ve been getting more lethargic as the days pass. I’ve been less inclined to go out and explore Shouto’s territory, and have been staying closer to home. Despite my increased hunger, I haven’t felt like hunting more, preferring to let Shouto provide for me more and more. A task that Shouto is more than happy to perform for me.

I’m not really sure what’s going on with me or why. I thought it might be a natural thing mers do, since it’s slowly turning to winter in the surface world, but Shouto hasn’t been going through the same changes. If anything, he’s gotten a bit leaner, his muscles more corded and powerful. His scales have gotten brighter, almost blinding me whenever they flash in the light.

I flush slightly and quickly avert my gaze, and finally bite into the large fish. Shouto goes to circle the clearing and, despite my best efforts, my eyes trail back to his powerful form. Shouto glances back at me from the far side of the clearing, and I swear that he flairs his fins for a moment. He’s a bit far away, so I may have been seeing things.

My eyes suddenly catch sight of the tip of Shouto’s tail, and I trill in alarm. When did he get hurt? How did he get hurt? Shouto’s suddenly looking around, after hearing my panic, fins bristling in alarm. I drop the half eaten fish and swim over to him. His attention snaps to me as I draw closer, and he gives me a confused look.

Izuku, what-”

Shouto! Are you ok? You’re hurt!”

I grab onto the base of his tail, being careful not to touch the wound. T here’s no blood. I t likely stopped flowing long before he entered the clearing, or I would’ve smelled it. The greenish blue gash runs from the top of his swim fins up, and spans the length of my hand. I t’s thankfully not that wide, and doesn’t seem to be swelling, which means there’s no infection yet.

Not that I know what kind of illnesses mers can get. I’m still having to go off of my knowledge of the human body, which is depressingly limited. I’m a jeweler, not a healer. I gently prod at the jagged edges of the wound, eliciting a grunt from Shouto. I look up at him with worry, and he bends down towards me, prying my hands from his tail.

Shou- I ok. Izuku no worry.”

I frown at him as he settles me down on a bed of swaying grass.

You’re sure?”

He smiles at me, and seems to puff up with pride. He makes another gesture and says the strangest thing.

I do good.”

My perplexed look goes unnoticed as he fetches the half eaten fish that I had dropped, and brings it back to me. I huff out a sigh, resigning myself to not understanding what he meant again . The gesture he used didn’t mean good, so he probably meant something else, but didn’t have the correct verbal word for it. Without more context, I can’t correct him, so I will just have to let it be for now.


 

 

O ver the next few days, both Shouto and I start growing restless. It’s more obvious with Shouto, who keeps showing up with new wounds. They’re nothing too serious, mostly bruises and a cut or two, but it has become obvious that he’s been getting into fights. I haven’t seen who he’s been fighting, but I kind of don’t want to. Even if they’re other mers, I don’t want to be around them if they’re aggressive like that blond one.

I also just can’t find it in myself to try being social right now, not with the utter mess my nest is. I don’t know what it is, but everything about it is wrong . I took one look at it this morning and hated it. I have been trying to fix it ever since, since I can’t really go outside right now, what with the storm raging outside.

I scowl down at the heap of leaves and sand, and rearrange it for the umpteenth time. I growl in frustration when it doesn’t turn out right, again, and unravel my sailcloth pillow with a bit more force than necessary before rearranging everything once more . Why can’t I get this right!?

M y nest continues to defy all reason, and I scream and fling my hands in the air. I give up, I need to do something else, or my brain is going to explode. I go into the larger room of my cave, and look at all my trinkets, and start rearranging those instead.

It’s not as aggravating this time, and I only spent ten minutes shifting everything around. Now what? The storm is still in full swing, and swimming around would be impossible with how violent the currents are right now. Well… I could always masturbate again. It’s better than fighting a hopeless battle with my nest again. Ooh! I could try out my new toy!

E ver since I discovered my sensitive new hole, which I am very hesitant to label right now, I have been adding that into my masturbation routine. Using my fingers is alright, but I can’t get them that deep because of the webbing, and I ’ve been feeling the urge to be filled lately. Like I have an itch deep inside that I need to scratch. A thought niggles in the back of my brain, taking all of the puzzle pieces of my recent bodily changes and starting to piece them together, before I suffocate it violently. I. Don’t . Want to think about it.

W ith as much cheer as I can muster, I make my way back into my bedroom. After sending a particularly nasty look towards my nest, I make my way over to the corner where I’ve tucked my latest creation. It’s not really that amazing or complicated, I made it with one purpose in mind after all.

I shift some of the leaves out of the way, and pick up a long thin rock that has been completely wrapped up with leaves. I managed to find one of those rock formations that had long spires, and broke off a piece that didn’t look too thick. The leaves are to make it smooth so it doesn’t chafe or hurt me.

Without further ado, I flop onto my back and set to work. After giving myself some strokes, and fingering my hole a little bit to get that slick stuff flowing, I place the toy at my entrance and carefully start working it in. It’s not too bad at first, since the toy isn’t too much wider than my fingers, but I let out a grunt of discomfort once it’s about a quarter of the way inside. How do women take it so well?

I pause for a moment, taking a few deep breaths before withdrawing it slightly. Maybe if I eased it in with smaller thrusts? I just want it to go at least halfway, it’s not really that long to begin with and I just want that full feeling . While I slowly reinsert the toy with shallow thrusts, I start stroking myself again. It takes a bit longer to get into it , but I’m soon panting and groaning with the new sensations.

Ooh ~ this is… this is good. I still don’t feel like I’m getting deep enough, but the slight stretching sensation is nice. I go for a bit more, finally getting the toy most of the way in, when my grip slips a little and I accidentally grind the toy up against the top of my slit. This makes me yelp and jerk my hips, panting at the minor sensation overload. I need to do that again.

Soon I ’m pumping my shaft and thrusting my toy in earnest, chasing that glorious feeling. Soon. Almost. Just a bit… ah! Gasping for air, I pull the toy out with a shaking hand and roll over on my side, letting the toy roll away somewhere . That… was fantastic. As I slowly come down from the high, I just lay in bed and listen to the swooshing of the water. Soon I’m drifting off to sleep, feeling pleasantly sore and loose limbed.


 

 

T he next day, Shouto brings some pieces of a sailcloth to me, and I immediately start working them into my nest. Shouto brings me more throughout the day, along with some food, and soon I’ve gotten my nest into a satisfactory state. It’s only then, when everything is as it should be and I’m absently rubbing my stomach, that I finally allow myself to realize what’s going on with my body.

Chapter Text

You know, when I finally left home, leaving my mother weeping with hope and loneliness at the door, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, sure, I had a lot of hopes in life. I wanted to get a stable job, do well at said job, and eventually settle down and start a family. I’m not sure how many kids I wanted, or even if a plain faced, scatterbrained man like me could even properly court a woman, but I definitely wanted them. I still do in fact, almost desperately now.

What I didn’t expect, was to almost drown on a business trip, have my body forcefully change into that of another species, and then have all of my morals and spiritual beliefs put into question. It’s the best I can do not to just break down or lash out. Not that I really had the time to do so, not after having so many startling revelations in a row.

First I was reeling from coming into contact with a friendly mer. Then it was finding out that he was trying to seduce me, and that he did, in fact, “speak” a language of his own. And before I could start unraveling the knots of the conundrum of my own feelings and sexuality, I find out that I’m going through the mer equivalent of spawning season.

The only reason I know of such a thing, is because Shinsou told me about it a few days before I went overboard. I had asked him why the fish I was eating had a bunch of salty beads in its stomach, and he explained that they were eggs and that that species of fish was likely close to spawning. I felt somewhat horrified that I had been eating another creature’s unborn offspring, but he assured me that they weren’t fertilized since they were still within the creatures’ womb. Judging by my own anatomy, I think the eggs are fertilized and possibly carried while still in my body. Which means sex. Honest to god, physical sex.

I sigh and close my eyes, letting the gentle current drift around me and cool my heated flesh. I let the sensations of my fluttering hair and the light of the shining sun fade into the background. I take a deep breath, and place my hand over my slightly swollen belly. I gently poke and prod, feeling out the eggs that are growing inside me. Eggs, dear God, eggs. If I hadn’t already found out that I still had a penis, then I’d be freaking out about my gender all over again. While this does bring up many questions about mer reproduction and how genders are determined and why, I can’t seem to care right now.

This may be due to the fever that my new hormones have brought about, but the only thing I can really think about, without getting distracted, is what I’m going to do about this. I slowly open my eyes again, and stare at the rippling surface. For a reason that can only be explained away as instinct, I felt the need to swim near the surface and float belly up in a mild current. It’s likely related to the fever I woke up with this morning, but I don’t really feel like looking into it too far right now. The water feels nice on my skin, and it’s giving me a chance to calm down enough to decide whether or not I want to do something with my newfound fertility.

I do want kids, I always have, but do I want them now? Do I want to have them with this body, birthing them myself from my own loins? Do I even want kids that aren’t human? I only had a vague idea on child rearing before, but what would I even do with mer kids? I barely know how to take care of myself right now, how could I take care of another? What can I do? I can’t do this on my own.

“Izuku?”

But I don’t have to do this alone, do I?

My hooded eyes drift over to see Shouto swimming up on my left side, concern etched onto his face. His eyes flit over my prone form, inhales none too subtly, and starts to look furtively around. It seems he hasn’t got any new wounds today.

It wouldn’t be so bad, if I did this with him. He’s so kind and considerate, and he’s never hurt me so I don’t think losing my virginity to him would be that bad. He’s also proven himself to be a good caretaker already, so he’ll be able to help me raise any little ones we have. He’d probably know more about how mers are raised than me anyway.

Shouto’s gaze turns back on me, looking a tad frustrated. His hands twitch towards me, but he mostly keeps them at his sides. His mouth twists into a frown, and he speaks again.

“Izuku? I… touch? Ok? Shou- I want…”

His hand gestures are a bit erratic, but are once again saying more than his stumbling words. I don’t truly understand what they mean, but I can guess. Ok… let’s do this. It’s now or never, right? Shouto stops his gesturing, having given up on verbal communication after not finding the right words, when I reach up and grab one of his hands. I look directly into his eyes and nod once.

“Ok. Yes. I want it too.”

Shouto seems to hold his breath for a moment, before nodding in return. He gently tugs me close, and tucks me into his arms. He nuzzles his face into my hair, and licks a stripe along my right temple. A low rumble sounds from Shouto’s chest, and he squeezes me just a bit tighter. I mewl softly in response, and squirm in discomfort. My body’s heating up again, and my slit is starting to tingle.

Taking the hint, Shouto starts swimming down towards the seabed. I manage to wind my arms around his neck, but otherwise stay still in his secure embrace. As I absently glance around, I notice that he’s taking me in the direction of my cave. That’s good, I kind of don’t want my first time to be out in the open, even if there’s no one around.

I let out a breath, and close my eyes. I let my head rest on Shouto’s shoulder, and enjoy the cool water running over my flesh as I relax. The light soon disappears as Shouto maneuvers me over the threshold, and into my living room.

I finally open my eyes when my back hits cloth, as Shouto gently lays me down on my nest. When he lets go, I wiggle around a bit to get comfortable, while Shouto goes off into the living room and does something. Once I get settled and comfortable, I run a hand down my egg swollen belly to sooth my building nerves.

Before I can linger on the thought of sex for too long, Shouto swims happily back into the room. His eyes roam slowly over me, and take on a hungry sheen. My breath hitches at the sight, and an excited shudder runs down my spine when Shouto lays a hand on the base of my tail. He slowly trails it up along the scales, and pauses once he reaches the swollen part. I’m not sure how many eggs a mer can carry at once, but there must be a lot to have swelling from just below my navel, to a few centimetres below my anal slit.

A low, chittering growl fills the room, and Shouto leans down to gently nibble along the raised scales. My breath hitches again at the action, and I can feel my channel tingle and clench in anticipation. My breathing turns into huffs and pants as his mouth draws ever closer to my leaking slit. Just before his sinful mouth reaches it, Shouto suddenly moves up and away, causing me to let out a whine.

Shouto lets out a coo, and gives me a gentle smile as he lays a soothing hand over my cheek. He settles his body back down over top mine, which makes my face heat up with a fiery blush. Oh god! He’s… he’s on top of me! With a startled squeak, I avert my face, covering it awkwardly with my arms, and start to squirm away from the large mer.

I hear a grunt from above me, and suddenly Shouto is dropping his weight down on me, effectively pinning me down with his long tail. I never really thought about it before, but Shouto is really heavy. Must be all the muscle. With my movement, and thus my escape, halted, Shouto grabs my arms and pulls them away from my burning face.

There’s a slight frown etched onto his face, and he rests his forehead against mine. He rubs circles into the palms of my hands with his thumbs, trying to calm me down. His brows furrow in concern, and he tilts his head slightly to the side, giving me a better view of the red scales around his eye.

“Izuku ok? I… more?”

Oh god, why is he asking again? I take in a deep breath, closing my eyes as I hold it for a moment before releasing it. I need to calm down. I wanted this, remember? I’m freaking him out, and am going to ruin it if I don’t get a grip on my emotions. I take a few more breaths, and finally open my eyes to gaze into Shouto’s kind, patient ones.

I tug my hands out of his, and timidly wrap my arms around his shoulders. When he doesn’t do anything beyond gaining a curious glint to his eye, I tentatively pull his head down and place a chaste kiss to his closed lips. Huh, they’re pretty smooth. Just like the rest of his skin.

After a moment or two of no reaction, I shyly lean back into my nest. Shouto tilts his head further to the side, an innocent look on his face. I guess mers don’t normally kiss to show affection. My face heats up again and I cover it again with my hands. Ooh, I did something so shameful! What does he think of me now!? A stressed noise comes from the mer above me.

“Izuku!? What Wrong? No touch? No Want?”

I peek up at the now flustered mer through my webbed fingers, and look into his panicked eyes. I squeak and shake my head, cupping his face in my hands. Right, time to get a move on. I think we’ve waited enough. I’ll just get more shy as time goes on, so I just need to give him permission and let him do his thing. At least I won’t have to do much for this, I don’t think I could handle it just yet if I had so much control.

“It’s ok. You can do what you want. I want you too.”

He still looks at me with trepidation, so I make my final bold move, and grab one of his hands. I slowly lead it down my waist and rest his fingers over my necklace, which is laying precariously over my slit. I then look back into his eyes and give a confident nod.

“Yes. It’s ok.”

The determined look slides back onto his face, and he leans down to nuzzle the side of my face. My eye closes has his red hair tickles my nose, and I feel his fingers flip the necklace up onto my swollen belly. With the object now out of the way, I feel his tail shift around again as he positions himself. He’s still pinning me down, but his pelvis is now perfectly aligned over my slit. He deftly dips the tip of his thumb into my hole, and pulls it to the side as he presses his groin flush with mine. Which, I suppose, is to help his member enter me.

Right, it’s go time I guess. Will it hurt? He can’t be that big right? I mean, mine isn’t, and his is probably the same size, right? I haven’t seen it, and it’s not really on display right now, but that just means he hasn’t brought it out yet right? He’ll just ease it out and-

“Ah!”

“Izuku?”

I cry out in surprise as something suddenly shoots out and impales me, filling and stretching me to the brim. He’s not small! Not small at all! I let out a pained whimper, and Shouto starts fretting and cooing over me, trying to get me to calm down. He licks and caresses my face, nibbling my freckles as I breath through the burning pain.

Jeeze, just how big is he? My toy never got me feeling this full, and I feel like he’s pretty deep in there. I shift a bit, as much as his weight will allow, and I gasp as I feel something tickle me deep inside. It feels like the sensation is coming from my belly. Shouto grunts from the motion, and seems to take this as a signal to continue.

He wraps his arms around my waist, taking care to rub his wrists along my torso, before squishing me into his. Anticipating his next actions, I tightly wrap my arms around his chest and bury my face in between his pecks. With a snapping motion, Shouto pulls out a bit and ruts back in. I gasp from the rough motions, but it already feels way better than before. His member is blessedly smooth, and the initial burn was just from the sudden stretch of an underused organ, so he’s already sliding in and out easily.

My gasping moans soon turn to squeals as the pressure of his thrusts starts stimulating the top of my canal, and my penis starts to react accordingly. I feel it slip out of it’s sheath, and the stimulation doubles as it rubs and grinds against his waist. Suddenly feeling breathless, I crane my head back into free water, and gasp as my core starts to pulse and tighten.

“Shouto! I-I! A-ah-ahhhh!”

I cry out as I release, and Shouto growls harshly in response. His claws dig into my back, and the angle of his thrusts change. I whimper from the over-stimulation, and he grinds his pelvis into mine as he bottoms out again and again. That tickling sensation deep inside of me suddenly changes, and I feel his member slip impossibly deeper, passed some kind of barrier.

As soon as this happens, Shouto seems to freeze, and I yelp as stinging pain rips through me, just under my rim. It feels like needles or barbs just dug into my flesh, as Shouto unloads his seed deep inside me. The suddenness of both sensations, rips a final orgasm from me, and I feel my walls clamp down along his ridiculous length. A low, soothing rumble sounds out, and Shouto goes back to nuzzling and caressing my hair and face. The faint scent of blood wafts up to me, but I choose to ignore it. I just lost my virginity after all. It’s probably normal.

Once my body calms down, I start feeling exhausted. That… was really good. It had a shaky start, but was amazing in the end. A responding purr vibrates trough my chest, and I snuggle into Shouto the best I can. If I wasn’t so tired, I’d probably be more embarrassed about the fact that he seems to be stuck inside me. Maybe I’m a little concerned, but I’m ultimately too tired to worry about it right now. If it wasn’t normal, Shouto probably wouldn’t be this relaxed.

Chapter Text

The next morning, I wake up cold, muscles sore, and an ache deep in my core. Well, that’s to be expected when you spent the entirety of the previous day having rather intense sex. I’m not sure why I’m cold, but what’s worse is that I’m starving. I didn’t eat a thing yesterday, and now I’m paying the price for it. Well, it’s not like I was thinking about it at the time. I was… preoccupied with Shouto, and all the delightful things he was doing to my body.

Thinking about it makes my body ache all over again, and I groan in frustration. I’m too hungry and sore for that now, so stop thinking about it! I don’t think I can move right now anyway, with how I’m feeling. I’m still hungry though, hmmm. Oh, maybe I could get Shouto to go hunting for me. Then I won’t have to move at all!

I pat the side of my nest, and open my eyes when I don’t feel the large mer laying there. I look around my bedroom, and a whimper slips out when I find myself completely alone. My tail flicks in distress, and I feel shame pool in my gut. I start scrubbing at my face and eyes, my breaths coming in short gasps. Did he abandon me? Was I not good enough? Was my behaviour yesterday that whorish? Oh, what will I do? I-

“Izuku!? Izuku, what wrong!?”

Shouto suddenly comes barreling into the room, looking at me with alarm. I look up at him, and with a quivering lip, reach out for him with a pathetic whimper. Shouto is quick to scoop me into his arms, taking care not to squeeze my swollen belly, and clucks and coos as he rubs his hands over me soothingly. I nestle my face into his chest, and just breathe in his comforting scent, letting out a couple more shuddering breaths. It takes me a moment to calm down, and I shyly look up at him when I do.

“I woke up and you were gone. I’m sorry for freaking out.”

Shouto tilts his head at my words, until a gentle look takes over his face once he understands the gist of what I said. He strokes a thumb over my cheek, and plants a chaste kiss on my forehead. He picked up on the action quickly yesterday, and has been using every opportunity to plant little pecks over my skin. He then nuzzles into my hair and lets out a soft sigh.

“No worry. I here, no leave you.”

I nod, and we just lie there for a moment, basking in each other’s presence. Then, I suddenly feel my stomach churn again, and a grumble rumbles through the silence. My eyes widen and my face heats up, and Shouto barks out a laugh. I whine and cover my face, mortified that my body ruined such a nice moment. I just had to forget that I was hungry, didn’t I?

Shouto lets go of me and starts to swim away, which startles me. I quickly grab his wrist, taking care not to get nicked by his spiny fin, and look up at him in confusion. He looks down at me with a gentle smile, and pats my hand before prying it off of him. With hands now free, he starts gesturing while he explains.

“You hungry. I bring food. I leave for food before.”

“Oh.”

I say dumbly as he finally leaves the room. Now I just feel stupid. Of course he was out hunting for me. I mean, he’s been feeding me for weeks now, why wouldn’t he do it when he thought he had a free moment after neither of us had eaten for an entire day? I shake my head and settle back down on my left side, rubbing my stomach and trying to ignore the protests of my muscles. I really shouldn’t have gotten up like that, my core hurts even more now.

Shouto soon swims back into the room, arms full of freshly caught fish. I almost start bouncing in anticipation, as he dumps his catch down next to me. He waits for me to pick one up and take a bite, before he settles down behind me. He burrows his left arm underneath my waist, and reaches the other one around to pluck his own meal out of the pile.

Soon, the room is filled with the crunching sounds of snapping bone and rending flesh as we content ourselves with our food. After eating our fill, there’s only two fish left. I sigh in contentment, and roll myself over to cuddle back into Shouto’s chest. He rumbles with approval, and I answer with a soft purr. I think I could get used to this.


 

 

It’s not until the next day that I’m able to fully move again. Well, without the intense pain anyway. I must say, Shouto was very attentive to my needs while I was indisposed. He constantly stayed by my side, only leaving when we got hungry again. We learned and exchanged many words, Shouto perfecting his speech and grammar some more, and he helped move me outside when I needed to relieve myself. Really, it was such a nice day.

Waking up the next morning, not as sore, and wrapped in Shouto’s arms was equally delightful. Will it be like this from now on? What about when the children are born? Not all animals raise their young as a pair, and even fewer stay together after they are grown enough to fend for themselves.

Do I really want this for just the children, or do I also want this kind of relationship with him? Do I even want it for the rest of my life? I don’t know, but for now I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to have kids soon, and I will soon need to focus wholly on them. So I think I can put such thoughts away for later.

Who knows, I still may find a way to turn back into a human, and it would probably be better if Shouto and I weren’t together at that point. It would make separation easier anyway, so it may be for the best if mers don’t pair for life like humans often do. For now though, I’m not going to think about it. It’s not going to get me anywhere right now anyway.

So, instead of thinking about things I can’t do anything about or control right now, I decide to work of my restlessness. I never knew laying around all day would irritate me so much, so I’m going to swim around the territory and work it off before I start snapping at Shouto. He’s been so sweet to me, I really don’t want to hurt his feelings unnecessarily again.

I head out of my bedroom, and immediately notice Shouto’s scent both inside the living room, and just outside the main entrance. The scent inside my cave is warm and comforting, like it is where I usually hang out during the day. Outside the main entrance, and the secondary entrance when I went up to check, is dark and aggressive like the marks on the edges of our territory.

Oh, I suppose this confirms that certain marks are territorial, while the other’s are likely to indicate comfort. Or pack. Maybe this is Shouto’s way of saying that he feels close to me. That he… likes me. Thinking about it some more, he probably erased my marks to keep other mers from scenting me out and trying to court me in turn.

Ignoring the heat in my cheeks, I turn around and head towards my favourite clearing, Shouto dutifully following close behind. After swimming for a few minutes, I notice another behaviour Shouto has picked up. Every once in a while, he will swim closer and gently brush his tail alongside mine. He usually keeps it to my sides or back, likely taking care to not disturb my precious cargo. The first time he did it, I gave him a confused look. He just returned it with a soft smile, and brushed his hand along my arm before distancing himself again to watch our surroundings.

My heart flutters in my chest each time he caresses me with his tail, and I shyly smile back in response, which seems to please Shouto. Is this how new wives feel when their husbands dote on them? If so, I don’t know how they don’t die from palpitations. I’ve changed my mind, Shouto isn’t good for me at all!


 

 

Over the course of the next few days, I notice that my belly has been steadily growing. My eggs have swelled considerably, and it’s getting a bit hard to move around properly. I find myself becoming exhausted far quicker, even after just ten minutes of activity. It reminds me of my first few days as a mer, only now I don’t have intense hunger and anxiety keeping me on the move.

I guess it’s a good thing Shouto is more than happy to provide for me, it seems he prefers it even. He’s taken to hovering around me, getting agitated whenever he thinks I’ve been moving around too much. My restricted movements and Shouto’s near constant fluttering around have been aggravating me, and on more than one occasion I’ve made my frustration known. Shouto just takes it all in stride, and soothes my nerves away with gentle touches and offerings of food.

He still brings me the occasional bauble or trinket, but only on the rare occasion he decides to leave my side for more than a few minuets at a time. Just this morning he managed to bring me more pieces of sail, which I decided to save for something else. What that something is, I don’t know, but I figure that going my my instincts during this time will help me out tremendously. So for now, I’ve got a little bundle of cloth tucked away beside my nest, waiting to be used.

A couple of days later, I find out that sex outside of my strange heat is just as good, if not better. For one thing, I’m more aware of what’s going on. I’ve even figured out how to participate, instead of just laying there and taking it. Of course, it helps that Shouto was much more careful with me than before. It may have been because of my condition, but I’m not complaining about it one bit.

It was certainly weird, and more than a little awkward without all the hormones clouding my brain, soliciting Shouto for sex. Since he never brought up the desire for intimacy outside cuddling or grooming, I thought he wasn’t interested in such things. I mean, yes, he was very interested when my body was swelling with unfertilized eggs, or that time when I inadvertently propositioned him, but he hasn’t initiated anything since my heat.

I probably wouldn’t have done anything about it, but I was feeling particularly horny and I didn’t want to touch myself. Not when I had such an attractive partner to help me out with my needs. So I decided to make the first move, and see what would happen. I found the perfect opportunity to state my desires when he was stroking a hand over my now quite sizable bump, both of us nicely snuggled up in my nest. Well, I suppose it’s ours now, since we’ve been living together since our first night.

I simply grabbed his hand and placed it right over my slit, looking him in the eye when he paused at the movement. All it took after that, was a wiggle of my tail and a needy mewl. Shouto didn’t need any more hints after that, and he made short work of turning me into a keening mess. I also found that he likes it when I nibble on the skin of his chest during coitus, a fact I found out after his hips gave a jerk, and he let out a startled coo.

Despite the reactions he gave, it was obvious he was being careful not to penetrate me as deeply, or as roughly, as he did a few days ago. His member stayed just outside the barrier that likely separates my passage from where my eggs are stored. It still felt really good, and I felt relieved that he was taking care not to damage my eggs. I don’t think I could forgive him if he damaged any of them due to carelessness.

One constant though, was that he still got stuck inside me afterwards. That same feeling of barbs piercing into my flesh, had me crying and shuddering out my orgasm. Definitely normal then, if it’s going to happen every time.

It’s during the start of the second week, that I see another mer within the territorial boundary. And it was in that moment, when everything changed.

Chapter Text

It’s a beautiful day, and there’s a nice current cutting through the trees, making them sway back and forth gently. I hum in pleasure as I lay splayed amongst the tall grass of my favourite clearing, eyes closed and waiting for Shouto to come back from his latest outing. My belly is full, I’m not too cold or warm, and my mind is blissfully silent. I don’t think this day could get any better than this.

I’m not sure how many eggs I’m carrying, but I probably won’t get any more moments like these in the foreseeable future once they’re all hatched. Mum always said I was quite the handful as a child, and if any of them are like me, then I’ll probably be feeling like she did in no time. Hmmmm, I wonder how she would react to them if she were ever to meet them. For that matter, how would she react to Shouto? My lips twitch into a frown, as loneliness twinges in my chest. God, I really miss her.

I allow myself to think of her for a moment, letting all the good memories float across my mind’s eye. My thoughts are abruptly halted, when a strange scent flits across my nose. The scent tickles irritatingly at it, and I scrunch my nose up in annoyance. What is that? And why does it seem so familiar? I open my eyes, and prop myself up on my elbows. I look around and scent the waters around me, trying to figure out the direction that smell is coming from.

It takes me a moment, but I soon realize that it’s drifting in on the current that’s coming in from my left. Should I go see what’s causing it? Shouto would probably raise a fuss if I swim any further out from our cave. I know why he’s doing it, he’s worried about me while I’m in a much weaker state, but I just can’t stand being cooped up all the time. Sure, I may be unable to swim as far and as long as I used to, but I’m not some invalid! I think I’d go mad if I just stopped moving around!

Besides, I’ve been so useless thus far, and I can’t keep being so dependent on Shouto. I’ve become so lazy since I met him, I need to do something before I become completely complacent. I nod with determination, and push myself up from the sandy bottom. Right, I’ll just quickly go and check on what’s causing that irritating smell, and deal with it if I can. I’m not going to do anything too strenuous, and if it turns out to be something I can’t handle, I’ll just go get Shouto.

Following the scent against the current, I slowly make my way closer to the outer reaches of the territory. I have to pause every once in awhile, to catch my breath and rest my tail. Moving it has become increasingly difficult, as my eggs steadily swell within me. At this rate, unless they hatch or I lay them soon, I’m probably going to be rendered completely immobile.

After catching my breath within a large thicket of trees, I notice that the smell is even stronger now. I must be close. Best to be careful, I don’t really know what’s causing it, and I’m not in the best condition to run away should I need to. So, senses on full alert, I creep forward through the trees, until I reach the edge of another clearing that rests just on the border of our territory.

I hear a thumping and loud clicking noise coming from the other side of the trees, and I freeze in place. That sounds like another mer. I feel my hackles rise, as panic clogs my throat. Before I can start hyperventilating, I shake my head vigorously to clear my head. There’s no time for panic! I can’t afford to lose focus if that really is another mer in the clearing. I need to first confirm what is making those noises, and then fall back to come up with a plan. Freaking out will only alert whatever creature is over there, and probably get me in an even bigger mess than I’m already in.

Breathing finally under control, I crawl forward. Staying low to the ground, I pull one of the branches aside to peer out into the clearing. What I see shocks me. What is he doing here!? Didn’t I leave that mer back at the shipwreck? Why is he here now? I frown and observe the sandy haired mer’s actions closer.

T he mer looks a bit different from the last time I saw him. For one thing, he looks a bit bulkier about the chest, and his scales are a bit brighter. Just like Shouto is now . He also has a few scars running down one side of his chest, as well as the front of his multi coloured tail. They look like claw marks. He’s probably been fighting recently, if he has such recent looking ones.

The thumping noise I heard earlier seems to be caused by the mer aggressively rubbing himself along one of the clusters of rocks. A cluster which, last I checked, held one of Shouto’s scent markers. Is- is he erasing it? As the mer smothers the rock with his scent, he occasionally looks around and clicks loudly, like he’s trying to get attention for something.

Oh god, he’s issuing a challenge! He’s trying to pick a fight! My eyes widen from the realization, and I cover my mouth to prevent a squeak of surprise from slipping out. Why does he want our territory? W asn’t the area near the ship enough? What’s he doing such a long ways away? Surely he couldn’t maintain such a large territory on his own. Did something cause him to move?

The large mer suddenly stills, and his angry looking eyes zero in on me. This time I do squeak. Curse me and my awful muttering habit! Before I can even blink, the mer is shooting towards me, a sharp grin upon his face. An ear piercingly loud shriek rips from my throat before I can even think. This seems to draw the other mer up short from the pain it causes him. As the mer clutches at his ear fins, I take the chan c e to turn tail and swim away as quick as possible, ignoring the ringing in my own ears.

I don’t think I’ve ever screamed that loud before, but I don’t really have time to think about it now. I need to get away, before the mer recovers! I can’t seem to swim/ crawl away fast enough though , because my hair is suddenly being roughly gripped. In the next moment, my head is carelessly shoved into the sand. I clench my eyes shut to keep the grains from stinging my eyes, and let out another shriek.

T he mer above me growls angrily, and yanks me back up. Scared out of my mind, and desperate not to be slammed back down onto my stomach, I reach up and around with both of my hands. The moment my fingers touch flesh that isn’t my own, I crook my fingers and dig my claws in as deep as I can into the mer’s forearm. I feel sharp spines dig into the flesh of my left palm, and the larger mer snarls angrily. He doesn’t let go though.

A nother snarl rings out through the water, and in the next moment I see a blur of red and white speed through the trees on our right. In almost slow motion, I see Shouto, who looks absolutely livid, slam full tilt into the body of the blond mer. The hand gripping my hair is suddenly ripped out, and I take that moment to crawl away from the brawling mers.

O nce a metre or so away, I scent blood in the water. I immediately turn around, and look towards the fight. It looks absolutely brutal. The blond mer is already sporting several cuts, and takes a rather nasty blow to the gut from Shouto’s heavy tail. That’ll probably leave a nasty bruise later.

I nstead of being winded from the blow, the blond mer gets further incensed. Growling through razor sharp teeth, the mer lunges forward and swipes at Shouto’s left side. Shouto manages to dodge the mer’s claws, but fails to block the snapping of his jaw at his right shoulder. As the blond mer’s teeth slice into the meat and lock onto his shoulder, the mer brings his claws back up and swipes at the left side of Shouto’s face.

Shouto manages to grab the other mer’s wrist, but greenish blue blood still swirls into the water as four cuts bloom across his patch of red scales. I cry out in distress, just as Shouto manages to pry the other off of him. Clutching at his wounded eye, Shouto aims another blow at the blond mer with his tail, but misses as the other easily skirts out of the way.

I whimper and clutch at the sand beneath me, feeling helpless as the blond mer lunges at Shouto again. Shouto can’t get out of the way in time, and his right arm is caught in the other’s unforgiving grip. With a jerk and a twist, Shouto’s arm is twisted into an unnatural angle with a sickening crack . Shouto makes a strangled noise of pain, and tries to wrench his arm free. With another twist of his body, the blond mer twirls around, and smacks his tail into the back of Shouto’s head.

All rational thought leaves my mind as Shouto’s skull cracks against a nearby rock. The next thing I know, I’ve launched myself at the blond mer, catching him off guard. My teeth sink into his right bicep, and my claws are scrabbling for purchase against his slippery skin. The tangy taste of blood bursts across my tongue, and filters up into my nostrils. I feel his hands grip my head, trying to rip me off of him . I growl and clamp down harder, angrily glar ing up at him.

I then catch sight o f his gills, which are tantalizingly close, and an idea pops into my head. I might not be stronger than him, but he still needs to breathe. In the next moment, I manage to get my right hand wrapped around his throat. I then squeeze as hard as I can, hand large enough to cover most of his gills . With a garbled noise, which sounds a lot like alarm, the mer starts thrashing in earnest.

This isn’t working, I don’t have a good enough grip with just one hand. So, I take a chance, and unclench my jaw from his arm. I manage to get a better angle and wrap my other hand around the mer’s throat. The blond mer rakes his claws down my arms, and I wince from the pain, but don’t let go. Just as the blond mer is starting to lose his strength, I get smacked away by someone else.

I tumble back down to the sand, and thankfully land on my back. Once I regain my bearings, I stare up at a redheaded mer who I vaguely recall seeing before. Oh yeah, he was one of the two mers who was with the blond one. I quickly look around and spot the black haired, plain faced one hanging a bit further back. The blond haired mer manages to catch his breath again, and I immediately focus back on him.

He looks pissed, and makes to lunge at me, but is for some reason stopped by the redheaded mer. The mer just flits in between us, and coos at the larger mer. The blond does stop, but the angry look doesn’t drop from his face. The redhead glances back at me, and briefly looks down at my belly. He frowns for a moment, then turns his attention back to the still angry mer.

The mer tucks his spiny fins against his skin, and bares his throat. He slowly swims towards, and around him, brushing his hands and tail against his skin in an almost affectionate manner. He coos and clicks soothingly, keeping the mer’s attention on him the entire time. The large mer just grunts and pushes him away, but the aggression seems to bleed out of his stance. With one glance back at me, the blond mer seems to dismiss me, and he turns away. He then swims back in the direction he came from, followed closely by the other two mers.

Before I can process what just happened, the redheaded mer turns back around and looks at me. I freeze as he looks from me, to my belly, and then at Shouto’s still form. He then looks back at me and wink s , giving me a thumbs up before turning around and finally leaving. Feeling bewildered, I tilt my head to the side in confusion. What just happened!?

I shake my head, and flip back over onto my stomach. I have more important things to worry about right now. Ignoring the building numbness in my hand, I drag my self over towards Shouto’s unmoving body. I whimper when I see that his eyes are still closed, and all the blood that is seeping from his many wounds, but sigh in relief when I see his chest rising and falling with steady breath s . Thank God, he’s still alive.

I manage to turn him over onto his back, making sure that both the fins on his neck and waist are tucked in so they don’t get damaged. I then gently poke and prod at his body, checking all of the damage done to him. Other than the grotesquely broken arm, he has many cuts and scrapes. H e’ll also likely be covered in bruises later. I gently pull his damaged eyelid up, and sigh in relief when I see that the eye underneath is undamaged. There’s also an already swelling lump on his temple from where he landed on the rock , and I just hope his head will be ok in the long run.

Shouto doesn’t stir throughout my ministrations , which means that I’ll have to somehow drag him back to the cave. I don’t know when he’ll be able to wake up, and I really don’t want to be out in the open. Especially if that, or another, mer decide s to show back up.


 

 

I cry out in frustration as I try, and fail, to make it even another metre more. It’s been well over an hour, and I’ve only managed to drag Shouto a good ten metres away from where we were. I let go of his armpits, and let his unconscious form fall down onto a patch of grass, gasping for air as I rest my shaking body. Shouto was heavy to begin with, but my severely weakened form is making things even harder.

What do I do? I can’t stay out in the open like this, not when I’m this vulnerable. I could just leave Shouto behind and wait for him to wake up naturally, but he’s in even worse shape than me right now. I’m no doctor, and certainly not a medic, but I know that, at the very least, Shouto’s arm needs to be set. If it doesn’t get straightened out soon , it’ll heal all crooked, and he may even lose the use of his dominant arm.

I can’t let that happen, and I definitely can’t abandon him. Not after everything we’ve been through. So what can I do!? Even if I did get him back to the safety of our nest, I’m practically crippled at the moment. I can’t really hunt anymore and, if things continue as they are, I soon won’t be able to move at all. And as long as Shouto is injured, he won’t be able to hunt properly either.

I whimper again, and stare down at the grass beneath us, bottom lip trembling. T o make things even more uncertain, what if that mer shows back up? Or another, even stronger mer? Neither Shouto n or I can fight in our current conditions. I take in a shuddering breath, and tug at my hair. T here’s so many unknowns, and so much uncertainty right now, that I feel like everything’s spiraling out of control.

Think, I need to think of things that I can do right now . Shouto needs me, and I’m just so useless! I can barely take care of myself, let alone another mer, right now, and I have babies on the way! My heart freezes in my chest, and my eyes widen. Oh God, I’m pregnant, and I don’t even know when I’m going to give birth. I don’t know how many I’m going to have either !

I- I can’t do this! I can’t take care of both Shouto and the babies, not on top of myself. Maybe one or the other , but not both. Which- which one should I choose? I ’ve always wanted kids, and they aren’t even born yet! They’re innocent, they don’t deserve this! But neither does Shouto. He’s done nothing but give, and he even risked his own life for me. But they’re his kids too, and he risked himself for them as well. If I were in his position, I wouldn’t want to be chosen over my own offspring.

I keen in anguish, and tug my hair some more. Oooh, what should I do? I can’t carry on like this! I need to make a decision before my life becomes a risk! The sudden thought gives me pause, and I stare down at my swollen belly. I then position my hands over the large bump, gently rubbing over the eggs within. I then take a deep, fortifying breath, and look around my surroundings.

I spot a decently sized rock a few paces to my left, and push myself towards it. Its a bit misshapen, but is roughly in the shape of an oval . I clasp the slimy surface with my fingers, and test the weight in my hands. It’s easy enough to lift, and I settle myself down on the grass. S itting next to, and facing Shouto’s prone form.

I stare at him blankly for a moment, absently petting his hair and going over my reasoning one last time in my head. I can’t take care of both him and the babies. It’s just not possible with all the unknowns in my life, and the risks are too high to take. If I do this, I also have the best chance at survival, and I don’t want to die. Not yet. I just hope Shouto can forgive me for what I’m about to do.

I heft the rock up above my head, and look down at my belly. It’s for the best. T his way we can both live to see another day . Besides, we can just have more later, right?

Chapter Text

The pain upon waking up is intense, starting from the top of my navel, and on down through much of my tail. But I suppose that’s just the price I have to pay for my actions. It took the rest of the day, and most of the night, but I managed to get Shouto back home after… well, that.

It was almost dawn when I finally managed to wrap the worst of Shouto’s wounds, and I was both amazed and concerned when Shouto never stirred from what was probably a very painful procedure. It was probably for the best anyway, the bones in his arm snapped and ground sickeningly when I managed to straighten it back out. I would’ve been screaming if it were me, and if I was awake for it.

I hear a groan from next to me, and my eyes s nap open. Is he finally awake? Oh, thank God! I was worried the blow to his head would leave him out for longer.

Shouto!”

My hands reach up and gently cup his bruised and swollen face, taking care to not touch the gashes running across his left eye. I watch as his eyes roll around under their lids, before they tremble and slowly open. His eyes don’t focus right away, they just remain dilated and hazily drift around. They eventually find purchase on my face, specifically my eyes, and they finally clear up.

At first, there’s a look of confusion on his face. Out of concern, I call his name again, albeit a bit more softly, and stroke his soft cheeks. His confused expression morphs into one of wonder, and he reaches up with a shaking hand to grasp my own.

I-Izuku?

I give him a smile, and nod.

Yeah, it’s me.”

Shouto lets out a shaky breath and closes his eyes again, nuzzling into my palm. He shifts a bit, and hisses as he tries to move his injured arm. I cluck and coo, grabbing the splint and holding the appendage still. He stares down at it for a moment, but ultimately gets the message that he shouldn’t be moving it right now. I continue to shush him, and he settles back down and leans his head back into my touches.

After making sure that Shouto is calm and comfortable, I decide it’s time to get us something to eat. I run my fingers through his hair one more time, before patting his cheek. I then push myself up, grunting from the pain the action causes. My actions seem to alarm Shouto, and his eyes snap back open. His good hand shoots out and grabs mine, halting my progress towards the exit.

Izuku. Where you go? You can’t, you…”

Whatever else he was about to say, immediately dies upon his tongue when he catches sight of my belly. My bruised, and noticeably not egg swollen belly. At first, there’s shock, but his blank look of incomprehension soon turns into horror. His eyes flick up to mine, and I try to reassure him with a smile and a pat on his grasping hand. My smile trembles though, and I look away from him. I can’t cry, I made my choice already. Crying won’t change-

I squeak as I suddenly get pulled back down onto our nest. Before I can do anything, Shouto pulls me into a crushing hug, and burrows his face into my hair. I swallow my protests down when I hear him speak through shuddering gasps.

Sorry. Izuku, so sorry!”

I sniffle and shake my head.

No. It’s ok. It wasn’t your fault.”

He just hugs me tighter, and I lay there, trying to catch my breath. Eventually, I manage to wrestle his injured arm out from under me, and tuck it up against his chest. We don’t stop hugging though, and we stay like that for a long time. Just soaking up each other’s pain while trying to provide some form of comfort.


 

 

It took forever after we both calmed down, to convince Shouto to let me leave. We both haven’t eaten in almost a day, and food is a must for the healing process. Shouto is still adamant that I can’t go out alone, but I eventually put my foot-er- tail down, and manage to convince him that it’s for the best. He’s still pouting and grumbling when I leave, but I can’t humor him right now. Right now, I need to find food for both of us .

The waters are beginning to darken, which means that we had slept, and then hugged, the day away. It also means that I might be able to catch some of those insects, if I don’t manage to catch any fish that is. Well, with how much pain I’m still in, it’s a very real possibility.

I grunt in pain again as I swim into the thicket of trees, and clutch my stomach in reflex. I look down at my hand, and then at the necklace that I had wrapped around my wrist. I frown down at it, and fiddle with the coin for a moment. I had moved it onto my arm when it became too snug to have around my waist, but I suppose that that’s not an issue anymore. I go to unclasp it, but I hesitate for a moment.

I then shake my head and unwrap it from my arm, perhaps a bit more forcefully than necessary, and drape it around my waist again. I’m fine, what’s done is done. Besides, it’s less distracting around my waist anyway. Yeah. Where’s the nearest clearing again?

As expected, I couldn’t really muster the speed or agility to catch any fish. So after two or three tries, I give up and scour the rocks and sands for various things to nibble on . I manage to grab two long tailed insects, as well as a handful of mussels, and take them back to the cave. Shouto is visibly relieved to see me come back in one piece , but I still have to scold him for migrating to the entrance of the cave instead of staying put. I have a feeling this is going to become a pattern until he gets well enough to move around again.


 

 

Over the next few days, I repeat the routine of getting up, checking our wounds, getting food, and fussing over Shouto during the downtime. Shouto does an equal amount of fussing himself, and I keep having to ignore the sad glances he throws at the fading bruises. A small part of me is irritated by it, and I think I wanted to hit him once, but I have to keep reminding myself that they were his too. H e’s just trying to come to terms with it, like I am.

I think it’s stupid though, I made the choice, so why am I still mooning over it? It’s not like I would’ve done anything different, and I’m so happy that Shouto’s ok and getting better. So why? Why do I keep going over it in my head and second guessing myself, when it’s already too late? Why do I always second guess everything I do!?

I start tugging on my hair in frustration, and glower down at the sand. I mutter at myself angrily, and try to force the thoughts from my head. God, I’m so sick of this! I just want to-

Wow, turned into a merman and you still talk to yourself. Well, I suppose it’s a good thing you didn’t change all that much.”

I let out a startled squeak, and tip over as my body seizes up in surprise. I hear a low chuckle and I manage to worm my body around on the sand to see who’s talking. My eyes land on the owner of the familiar voice, and I freeze in shock.

Sh-Shinsou? What-???????”

S hinsou raises a brow at me, and crosses his arms over his bare chest. T hat’s when I notice the spiny fins, and the long lavender coloured tail. Oh God, Shinsou is a merman! How? Why? What? Shinsou huffs and shakes his head.

Slow down with the questions, and breathe.”

What? Oh, right, muttering again. I look back down at the sand and take a few deep breaths, which had grown dangerously short without my notice. Shinsou takes the time to drag me over to a nearby rock formation, and settles us both down. Once I’ve calmed down enough, Shinsou begins speaking.

Right, first things first I guess. We’ve both been turned into fish people. Did some weird lady force a pill down your throat too?”

Chapter Text

“A weird lady?”

Shinsou just nods and props his head in the palm of his clawed hand, elbow digging into his shimmering tail.

“Yeah. Well, a non human one anyway. She was a mermaid, with a long shimmering silver tail, and creepy silver eyes. Long dark hair? I didn’t catch much of her before I passed out. Ringing any bells?”

I scrunch my eyebrows and look down at my tail, trying to think. I shake my head after a moment.

“Um… no. I’ve never met a mermaid. Plenty of mermen, most of which have tried to kill me, but no women. But, you mentioned a pill before. I did get one from a woman at the docks that had grey eyes and long ebony hair. She was human though, so I’m not sure they’re the same. Oh, but we both got turned into mers, maybe she can too. Does that mean she can shift at will? Is she a witch? Maybe she has an antidote. Where did you see her agai-”

“Hold on. Going too fast.”

Shinsou holds up his free hand and interrupts me. My mouth flaps silently for a moment, while my thoughts try to both slow down and catch up, but I manage to close it again. Shinsou watches with amusement, and huffs out a silent laugh. He lowers his hand and continues speaking.

“I think we should both start from the beginning. After we both get our stories out, then we can start asking questions and trying to figure out the answers. Sound good?”

I nod, a smile spreading across my face. That sounds way easier. Shinsou nods back with an answering smile, and he gestures his hand at me.

“Let’s start with you, since it seems like you were transformed first. You said you met a similar looking woman at the wharf, where you and your boss boarded? And she gave you a pill?”

I nod enthusiastically, and relate to him everything I remember about her, from how she looked and what she said. Shinsou nods along contemplatively, his hand rubbing against his cheek every so often. His eyes flick down after I finish my description.

“Well, sounds like the one I met, but she was on land. I assume you took the pill after you went overboard?”

I nod, slower this time, remembering that horrible experience.

“Y-yeah. I was drowning and-and I saw the pill float up out of my pocket. To be honest, I forgot that I had it before then.”

I look down at my fingers, which I hadn’t noticed were twisting together painfully until now, and fight back a frown. It was a while ago now, it really shouldn’t bother me still. I feel a hand clap down on my shoulder, and I look up at Shinsou who is giving me a sympathetic look.

“I’m sorry about that, by the way. I wasn’t able to grab you in time. Drowning isn’t fun. Trust me, I know.”

“Oh yeah, you must’ve drowned too. How’d that happen? And when? And- and I never blamed you, so it’s ok. No hard feelings.”

The hand squeezes my shoulder and then withdraws. Shinsou makes no comment to the last part, and instead starts explaining what’s been going on since I, well, left.

“Well… we made it to Ireland just fine after that. About week and a half later in fact. Your boss got whatever he needed done within a few days, and we had enough time to restock and enjoy the port town before we were headed back out again.”

He pauses, and leans backwards onto his hands, palms flat on the rock behind him.

“We were a few kilometres away from shore, when another sudden storm struck. It wasn’t that severe, but it got us off course enough to crash against one of the shallow reefs around the island.”

I make an alarmed squeak, but I manage to suppress the urge to flutter my hands about. Shinsou is fine. He’s here, he’s fine, and alive. He quirks his eyebrow at me, but continues on regardless.

“The ship took on some water from several holes that were torn into the hull. It wouldn’t have been much of an issue, we’ve patched up worse holes before and we weren’t that deep, but the particular reef we had crashed into happened to be occupied by a group of mers. They tore the holes wider and attacked whoever was unfortunate enough to be close by. Slaughtered the livestock too, now that I think of it.”

He’s fine and alive! He’s fine and alive! He’s fine and alive!

“Needless to say, the ship took on more water until it was essentially beached in the middle of the ocean. There was enough of the deck left above water, but, between the storm and trying to dodge really pissed off mers, I got tossed overboard at some point.”

“Ah, um, quick question.”

His grey eyes flick up to look at me.

“Yeah?”

“Um, since you’re a sailor, can’t you swim?”

He gives me a rueful smile.

“No point learning to swim, when no one’s going to turn around and save you1.”

“Oh.”

I feel my face heat with shame, but he thankfully continues on with the story without another mention.

“Anyway, I somehow got knocked overboard, and somehow only managed to attract the attention of one of the mers. Not to be anticlimactic or anything-”

He gives me an amused look, grinning wider when I pout at him. It’s not my fault I like stories so much.

“but it was the mermaid I mentioned earlier. I was managing to struggle on the surface a bit, but she pulled me under fully. She didn’t say anything to me, just hit me across the chest so all the air was knocked out of my lungs. She then shoved some kind of pill into my mouth. I must have swallowed it on reflex, because the next thing I know my mouth is open and I’m just sucking water into my lungs.”

Shinsou grimaces, and I notice him shiver slightly.

“It was hard to concentrate on anything other than drowning, but she just seemed to watch me with this… pleased expression on her face. I think she stroked my cheek too, like she was trying to be comforting. Everything went black after that. There weren’t any mers around when I woke up, and everyone on the boat seemed to be dead. I didn’t stick around long, didn’t really want to be around a bunch of corpses to be honest.”

I hum and nod in understanding. I’ve only seen a skeleton before, and that was unsettling enough. Imagine being surrounded by your half eaten comrades. That must’ve been much worse.

“I’m afraid I some even worse news Midoriya.”

I look up at him with confusion. He gives me a grim look, and he puts his hand on my shoulder consolingly.

“I’m afraid you’re quite out of a job, seeing as your boss’s dead and in the belly of a mer and all.”

I blink owlishly at him, I don’t think that ever occurred to me honestly. His grim expression cracks into a smile, and we both burst into fits of laughter. I forgot he had a dark sense of humour, and the joke was just jarring enough to get me going as well. I lean into his side as I double over from laughter, and we stay like that for awhile.

After our laughter peters out, I start to feel refreshed. Like everything’s going to be better. I take a look around our surroundings, blissfully watching the tree stalks sway in the gentle current. A thought pops into my head.

“So… how did you-”

There’s a sudden spine chilling snarl, and I feel Shinsou get violently pushed from my side. Startled, I shriek and bolt up off the rock we were sitting on. I almost turn to flee, but the sight of vibrant red and white scales stops me. I turn to see Shinsou’s head being pinned down by Shouto, who has his bad arm still tucked to his side. At least he’s being careful with it.

Wait. No. That’s not the point here.

“Shouto no!”

I start to swim towards them, but Shinsou flicks his hand at me. I pause long enough to see that, despite Shouto’s punishing grip on Shinsou’s hair and his intimidating snarl, he hasn’t done anything else. I also see that Shinsou is baring his throat placatingly as much as he can, with all of his spines pressed flat to his body. He doesn’t struggle or fight back, even when Shouto thumps the sand next to his tail threateningly with his own.

Confused, and not sure what to do, I whimper pathetically and wring my hands together. I see Shouto’s head twitch slightly in my direction, but his back remains facing me. Nothing else happens for a few moments, and I feel the tension and anxiety build in me as no one makes a move.

Ever so slowly, Shouto removes his hand from Shinsou’s hair with one last warning snarl. Then, without really taking his eyes off or turning his back to him, he swims back over to me. I feel him carefully wrap his splinted arm around my waist and tug me down, settling me down on his lap as he sits on a rock.

I nervously watch as Shinsou manages to stagger his way back up off the ground, ignoring Shouto’s good hand stroking up and down my tail. I also ignore the comforting rumble in his chest, as Shinsou plops himself down roughly two metres away on another rock. He rubs his head, where he has a few nicks in the skin, and looks over at us. He eyes Shouto warily for a moment, but then turns his attention back to me.

“I kind of forgot you had another mer with you. Wouldn’t have gotten so close to you otherwise.”

My eyebrows pinch together and I frown. I don’t remember telling him about Shouto.


 

 

1Before the 19th century, lifeboats weren’t really a thing. and large boats weren’t known for their amazing turning skills. Most sailors also never really grew up in places that were near large bodies of water to learn such skills. It was generally accepted that, if you fell off, you were going to die anyway. so there was no point in prolonging your suffering by exhausting yourself with a fruitless task. TL;DR that bitch ain’t turning around, so you’re fucked anyway. Such is the life of a sailor.

Chapter Text

“Um… how- how do you know about Shouto? I don’t think I told you?”

My statement gets turned into a question, as nerves spill over into my speech. Shinsou gets a thoughtful, but slightly sheepish look as he continues to rub his head. Though, not as much as before. The pain was likely starting to fade.

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. I wasn’t spying on you or anything. I just ran into a group of three mers, and two of them told me about you and your… friend here.”

I start flushing as Shouto chooses this moment to start nibbling the back of my neck, clicking in a soothing manner. I fidget nervously, but Shouto just squeezes me tighter and nuzzles his nose into my hair. I settle back down with a resigned sigh, when the other thing Shinsou said clicks. All at once excitement zings through my body, and I start bouncing with anticipation. I barely hear Shouto murmur my name in concern, as he attempts to hold me still in his lap.

“Wait, you spoke to other mers? When? Who? What were they like? What did you talk about? Were they- wait. Three? And they knew about us? You mean the ones that attacked us!?”

Shinsou winces at the verbal onslaught, and Shouto takes my sudden distress the wrong way. He starts growling at the other mer, and starts shuffling me to the side, his spines fully erect in a threatening display. I cluck and coo, gesturing and trying to get him to calm down. I really don’t want him to attack Shinsou again.

Shinsou, for his part, attempts to look as non threatening as possible. He cocks his head back slightly, to bare his gills, and presses his spines flat again. This seems to placate Shouto some, but he settles us back down a little further away. I look over at Shinsou apologetically.

“I’m sorry! He’s very protective, especially after his injury, and I- I keep setting him off somehow. Are you ok, by the way?”

He waves my concern away, and plops his hands down into his lap.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m kind of used to it at this point. At least from the bigger mers anyway. They tend to be more territorial than the others, from what I’ve seen”

“Y-yeah.”

The sandy haired mer pops into my mind, and I try not to shudder. I do rub the fading bruises though, which causes Shouto to start soothing me again. I huff from embarrassment, and flush again when Shinsou’s mouth starts twitching from mirth. Thankfully, he doesn’t comment on it and continues on.

“Back to your earlier questions, yes, I’ve spoken to mers before. And yes, specifically the ones that were involved with your attacker. Before you ask, though, I haven’t seen or come across anyone else whom I could communicate with.”

“They could talk? I never understood them the two times we ran into each other. They, or I guess just the one, just attacked me for no reason!”

My agitation causes Shouto to start growling again, and I huff in exasperation. I twist around as best I can and lightly smack his cheek, just enough to grab his attention.

“Enough Shouto! He’s a friend. Friend.”

I make as many gestures as I can of ‘friend’, ‘safe’, and ‘ok’, trying to drive the point home better.

“He won’t hurt us. His name is Shin-”

“Hitoshi.”

I only halt for a moment at the insistence of his first name, glancing back at him momentarily before looking back at Shouto. I do point at Sh- Hitoshi for emphasis though.

“Hitoshi. His name is Hitoshi. Hitoshi is a friend. He’s safe. He won’t hurt us.”

Shin- Hitoshi remains silent after his initial interjection, as Shouto glances between my face, my hands, and Hitoshi respectively as I speak and gesture. His frown remains but, after a moderate amount of time, he seems to concede and relaxes back onto his perch. Once sure that he’s as settled as he’s going to be, I twist back around to face H- Hitoshi. God, that’s going to be weird to get used to.

Before we can continue the conversation though, Shouto wraps both arms around my waist and squeezes me back into his chest.

“Izuku mine!”

I then see him gesture around the clearing.

“Mine! You listen or go. Un- undershtand?”

Shouto trips and slurs over the last word, but I choose not to comment on it. His point has been made after all, and I’m a little busy blushing for my life. I’ll teach him the word for territory later, as well as have him practice his pronunciations. Hitoshi just continues to look serious, and nods once.

“I understand.”

I feel Shouto’s head nod firmly behind me, and his grip loosens as he goes back to grooming me.

“Well, not to get back on track or anything, but yes, they can speak. Specifically, only two of them can. The red haired one, Eijiro, and the black haired one, Sero.”

I frown.

“Why didn’t they speak to me then? I couldn’t understand a word they said, if they said anything at all, both times I ran into them.”

Hitoshi gives a wry grin.

“That’s probably because they don’t speak English.”

I blink owlishly at him.

“Th-they don’t?”

“Nope.”

He pops the ‘p’, and continues on before I can ask further.

“They’re Spanish, which I happen to be reasonably fluent in as a result of my job. They got changed in a similar way to you and me. Well, more similar to me than you. They were naval sailors who got tossed overboard somehow. Before they completely drowned, the dark haired, silver mermaid shoved some kind of magic pill down their throat. As a result, they had been turned into mers by the time they awoke. From what I understand from our brief conversation, they came across the other mer, who they’re calling Katsuki by the way, a few weeks after.”

“Ah. Wait, does this Katsuki not speak at all then?”

The other mer shrugs, and I feel Shouto move his mouth down to my shoulders, working on the smattering of scales there.

“Not that they, or I, know of. He can speak a little Spanish now, because they’ve been teaching him, but as far as we can tell he never spoke any recognizable language before that.”

I hum in thought, crossing my arms and placing my chin in one of my hands in thought.

“Well, that sounds like Shouto as well but… but he does know a language.”

I look up at Shin-ugh Hitoshi, and he raises an eyebrow at me.

“I thought Shouto didn’t have a language at first, but I found out that he normally speaks with his hands instead of his mouth. Could, um, Katsuki… do the same?”

He looks thoughtful for a moment, and then shrugs.

“I don’t think he made any of the same gestures, but we could easily find out.”

We!? Hitoshi looks at my twisting expression and backpedals a bit.

“Or just me, I guess. Sorry, I kind of heard what happened to you guys from Eijiro. Kind of why I sought you out. I don’t blame you for not wanting to see them for a while, if ever.”

I smile wanly at him, and ultimately decide to change the subject.

“So, um, those two were the only ones who you could speak to you said? Did you try with any other mers? Where have you been for that matter?”

“Uhhhh...”

Hitoshi looks up in thought.

“Yeah. Just those two. I was just wandering for a while, at least until I heard you were here. I tried with others when I came across them but, while not all of them were super aggressive, they didn’t understand a word I said. Maybe there was a language barrier that I don’t know about. I mainly speak English, am passable in Spanish, and know a bit of french, so maybe none of them spoke any of those.”

I nod. T hat makes sense.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend going around trying though. The mers that are around my size, and the few that had similar fins to you, were wary and territorial enough towards me. The bigger ones, that were about Shouto’s size, were intensely aggressive on sight. I’ve been chased, attacked, and pinned down more times than I care to count. It didn’t take me long to figure out that they wouldn’t leave me alone until I submitted to them in some way, or showed that I wasn’t any kind of threat.”

Oh! Is that why you bared your throat and flattened your fins?”

Yup. It’s the simplest way to show you aren’t a threat. Or looking for a fight.”

Ah, maybe that’s why Katsuki attacked me. He’s obviously the dominant one of the pack, and I was refuting his claim on his territory that first time . But that doesn’t explain the second interaction. Why would he attack me like that when I was pregnant?

Maybe, maybe it was because I was pregnant. He was obviously challenging Shouto’s claim on this territory after leaving the old one for some reason, and one could argue that I’m a part of that territory since I can bear young. If he had won the dispute, he likely wouldn’t tolerate a rival males’ offspring. The thought makes me shudder again, and squirm back into Shouto’s chest , finally appreciating the secure embrace. Well, I suppose it wound up the same way in the end. At least Shouto’s still here.

But wait. There’s male and female mers, but that doesn’t seem to mean much when it comes to who can bear young. Hitoshi just said there’s an obvious difference in aggression between the males of different sizes. Perhaps there’s more differences than that?

Hitoshi, you said you’ve seen mermaids. Did all of them have fins like mine?”

Hmm? No, most of them had spines like me and Shouto there. They were also a bit bigger than you. One was even the same size as Shouto. Nearly cracked my head open when she saw me. The few that I managed to see that looked like you were mostly female, but I did see one male other than you.”

Curiouser and curiouser. I hum to myself in thought, my eyes trailing down Hitoshi’s body absently. When they land on his genital slit, another question pops into my head.

Say, what do your genitals look like?”

I realize, a bit too late, that I had asked the question out loud.