There were a million different ways Jeno’s night could've gone, and for some reason, dragging a siren out of a pool was not one he had in mind.
“Jen, there's a storm coming tonight, you best tie up your boat and close the shutters before you sleep,” Mark said to Jeno when they passed each other on the boardwalk.
“Same to you,” Jeno said with a grin.
“I’m going back to the main island for tonight, my boat’s fallin’ apart and I don't wanna risk a storm,” Mark said as they reached the turning for the docks.
“Right, okay, I’ll see you tomorrow?” Jeno asked, tilting his head to one side.
“Of course, see you at the tavern.” Mark grinned back, sending a wave to the dockmaster before running to his boat, passing the large sign that read “Staniel Cay, yeah, the one with the shells.”
Jeno lived on a cay just off the main island. It was small and not many people lived there, but there were plenty of tourists and summer houses on their little island, Staniel Cay. The cay was well known for its shells, shells that would line the waters, shimmering under the sun. Jeno’s parents owned the island and they gave him a job, taking people from island to island, checking the fishing nets, and just generally, making sure that everything was okay both on the island and in the sea.
The sky was darkening, the clouds churning up a fierce storm. Jeno frowned as he looked up, furrowing his eyebrows before he quickened his pace to get to his cottage. He lived on the other side of the island, isolated and on a small hill right next to the beach, which was generally nice, but it wasn't the best for storms. The house would creak and groan, and water would drip in from this one spot in the roof that Jeno kept reminding himself he needed to fix (but he never did).
And then he passed out, flopping down onto his couch as the storm started to rage outside. He didn't wake until around four am once the storm had calmed down. But it had definitely left its mark because when Jeno pushed open his shutters to look at the town, it was a right mess. He had a perfect view from his house on the hill and he could see that there was sand everywhere on top of people's houses and such, there was seaweed all up the beaches and the lifeguard towers had all tipped. Bushes were uprooted and coconuts had fallen from the trees. A tree had even fallen right on someone's house, breaking the roof in.
Jeno cursed to himself as he slid a cap over his messy bleached hair, grabbing both a flashlight and a bag of gummy worms since he was starving. He would have to asses the damage before everyone else woke up. So, he swung on his jacket, since it got chilly at night, and left his cottage, making sure to slam the door shut behind him, but not too hard since it would lock if he used too much force.
The whole way down to the docks, he was stepping in seaweed and sand, even when though he wasn't anywhere near the beaches. Once he made it, there were panes of wood in the water, from the docks and houses, it as a mess. The docks were wrecked and there were holes everywhere- Jeno almost fell since he was tired and not paying attention, but thankfully he caught himself.
Jeno sighed when he reached the public pool. It was practically a miniature ocean. There was seaweed everywhere, and from what he could see from afar, little fishes swimming in the now salty water.
“Shit,” Jeno muttered under his breath as he reached the edge of the pool, “Must’ve been one hell of a storm.” He said to himself as he walked the length of the pool, leaning forwards just a bit to get a better look. Right as he did that, he accidentally tilted his hand and gummy worms fell into the water. Jeno cursed and was about to reach down and pick the candy up but then he remembered, they’ll drain the pool anyway, not like it matters.
So, he shrugged turning to leave and walk around the rest of the ruined town, but then he heard a splash behind him. He spun around, eyeing the pool suspiciously, as he shone his flashlight on the waters. He caught just a glimpse of a fin moving around and then on the other side of the pool there was another splash.
“What is that?” Jeno whispered to himself, “A shark?”
“I think I know what it is.” A soft and enchanting voice said, not too loud but not too soft. Jeno’s eyes snapped down, catching sight of a small boy in the waters below him. But that's the thing, if it was just a boy, then maybe Jeno would’ve had a normal night. Maybe then he would have gone back home and gone back to sleep, or maybe he would have watched some TV, but it wasn't a normal night.
Because upon further inspection, it wasn't a mere boy, because on the arm perched on the edge of the pool, were dark scales, so dark they were almost black, and on his elbows were spiny fins. And Jeno gasped and screamed, falling back onto his butt when he saw the boy’s legs- or lack thereof. Because right were the boy’s legs were supposed to be, there was a black tail, shiny and glittering under the light of Jeno’s flashlight. And there were fins near the top, right above his hips, the fins were so thin they were almost invisible, but Jeno saw it.
“Dear God, will you shut up!” The boy groaned, “Stop shrieking like a dying gull!”
Jeno blinked in confusion, pushing himself back a bit further until he was pressed up against the wall of the utility shed, “What are you?”
Jeno scanned his mind for some sort of explanation, “A mermaid?”
“Really?” The boy scoffed and rolled his eyes, “A mermaid?”
“You know what, close enough.” The boy continued on, “Not like I could expect a human to know anyway.”
“What the hell are you then? How are you speaking? What the fuck? Why do you have a fucking tail?” Jeno rambled on and on.
“I can see we're going to have to take this slowly.” he rolled his eyes once again “Say it with me, human,” The boy propped his elbows on the edge of the pool, “Si-ren. Siren.”
“Siren?” Jeno echoed.
“You know, the ‘bad mermaids’ that lure sailors in with pretty songs and then kill them?” The boy explained.
“I thought they were mythical,” Jeno said, barely above a whisper.
“We are not mythical,” The boy huffed, “just discreet.”
“What the fuck?” Jeno mumbled as he carefully crawled a bit closer, getting a better look at the black tail in the water.
“You sure do have a dirty mouth,” The boy quirked an eyebrow as he splashed some water at Jeno.
“Are you real?” Jeno asked, cocking his head in confusion and intrigue as the boy scoffed.
“Real as a riptide, babe.” The boy said as the gummy worm Jeno dropped caught his eye. He brought his hand out of the water, scales trickling up his hands and down his fingers, and beckoned the candy forwards. And surprisingly, it came, a wave forming around the gummy worm, barreling towards the boy as he picked it up and popped it into his mouth.
“How’d you do that?” Jeno asked as the boy finished the candy.
“Magic.” He simply answered before looking at the bag of gummy worms on the ground next to Jeno, “are you going to finish those.”
Jeno paused before shaking his head and handing the candy off to the boy.
“So, what's your name, human?” The boy asked as he ate the candies.
“Jeno?” he said, his voice shaking as the boy leaned forwards and tail peeked out from underneath the dark waters.
“Jeno,” The boy repeated, getting used to the name on his tongue. Jeno liked the sound of his name coming from the boy’s lips.
“What’s your name?” Jeno asked, getting awfully comfortable around the siren.
“And why should I tell you?” He asked, his voice smooth and unwavering.
“You don't need to,” Jeno huffed, “but I’d quite like to know.”
“Hmm,” The boy hummed in thought, “No wrong in telling you since you won't remember this anyways,” He said the last part so quiet Jeno couldn't hear.
“Renjun,” Jeno echoed, a small grin raising to his face.
“Well also long as we’re being all buddy-buddy about it now, do you think you could do me a favour?” Renjun said, looking up at Jeno from underneath his eyelashes.
“Depends,” Jeno answered because, from his little knowledge on Sirens, he knew they couldn't be trusted.
“Relax, sailor, I just need your help getting out of this pool before they drain it and turn me inside out,” Renjun rolled his eyes, “Can you help me or not?”
Jeno didn't see any harm in that, “Sure. '
And then Renjun smiled and held his arms for Jeno, the latter's heartwarming just a bit as he reached down and wrapped his hands around Renjun’s forearms.
Jeno quickly learned that getting a siren out of a pool and to the ocean, was no easy task. That tail, while being beautiful as fuck, was heavy and Jeno did not possess the strength to easily carry the siren. When he pictured himself carrying a merman, it went more like: him walking on the beach while carrying a merman bridal style, with the wind blowing his hair as they peacefully went to the waters. But it was more like, Jeno grunting as he half-carried, half-dragged, the siren to the docks. They had to take three breaks and by the time they had made it to the docks, it was almost sunrise.
Jeno helped Renjun into the waters, the siren sighing once he was finally in the ocean again. But he didn't swim away, he turned back to Jeno with a smile on his face.
“As much as it pains me to do this, I haven't a choice,” Renjun spoke, his face dancing with remorse, “It’s a shame, you were hot too.”
“Do what?” Jeno asked, squatting down so he was eye level with Renjun.
“It’s okay, you won't remember this,” Renjun smiled bittersweetly as he reached up and cupped Jeno’s cheek, the feeling of the sirens hand on his cheek literally sending a shiver down his spine.
And then Renjun pulled away, opening his mouth to sing,
The sound was utterly enchanting, beautiful in every sense of the word, and Jeno found himself gasping at the siren.
I disdain all glittering gold,
Renjun brought his hand up, water dripping from his hand and for some reason even an action as simple as that had Jeno’s heart skipping a beat.
There is nothing can console me,
Renjun looked down at the water, down at the dark waters and his black tail glittering green under the rising sun,
But my jolly sailor bold.
And then he looked up at Jeno, their eye contact electrifying in every sense of the word. He looked vulnerable, yet confident like he knew what he was doing. Like he knew how he was making Jeno feel. But then in a second, that was gone, and Renjun was left staring up at Jeno in confusion.
“That was pretty,” Jeno smiled down at Renjun, “What song was that?”
“What?” Renjun’s eyebrows knitted, “That was a siren’s enchantment.” he trailed off.
“What does that mean?” Jeno cocked his head to one side.
“It means that you should be passed out and forgetting about me,” Renjun perched his elbows on the docks, “But you aren't. What’s my name?”
“Renjun,” Jeno responded without missing a beat, further confusing Renjun.
“That song was supposed to clear your memories of me and make you fall asleep,” Renjun explained, and Jeno finally started to understand why Renjun was so surprised.
“Does this mean I’m immune to sirens?” Jeno asked.
“We are not a disease,” Renjun scoffed, “But I’m afraid so.”
“Why is it a bad thing?” Jeno asked, leaning a bit more forward to that they were eye to eye.
“Because you’ve seen me and now you’ll go and tell everyone my secret and that means I’ll have to kill you and I really didn't want to have to do that,” Renjun sighed as if this whole thing was an inconvenience.
“Wait what, don't kill me!” Jeno reeled back, “I promise I won't tell anyone!”
“How can I trust you?” Renjun quirked an eyebrow.
“Well, if I tell people then I won't be able to see you again,” Jeno smiled, “And I’d quite like to see you again.”
Renjun’s cheeks went a dusty rose, but he still looked unconvinced.
“I won't tell a soul. Sailor’s honour.”
Renjun hummed, considering the thought.
“Fine.” Then he let go of the dock and spun around, getting ready to leave.
“Wait!” Jeno called out, Renjun looking at him from over his shoulder, “When can I see you again?”
Renjun smiled, “In a fortnight two hours before dawn, right by this dock.”
“I’ll be there,” Jeno said eagerly.
“Meeting you has been a dream,” Renjun grinned before turning and disappearing beneath the waves with one flap of his tail.
Jeno woke up about midday after his “nap,” staring up at the old ceiling of his cottage. It was hot, unbearably so. His covers were half pushed off his body, and it was quiet save for the sound of his cat softly purring and the waves crashing on the beach nearby. The sound brought him back to the dream he had that night, Meeting you has been a dream, yes, a dream. A dream nothing more, that was the only thing that could make sense.
But then Jeno abruptly sat up, remember that it wasn't a dream, since the pain in his joints and soreness in his muscles from carrying a siren to sea, were too real to be imagined. It struck him, that actually happened, sirens are real. I mean, it made sense in a way. It would be almost selfish to think that in such a big ocean, there was nothing like sirens and mermaids, but he had always grown up thinking that they were just mythical.
Not mythical, just discreet, Jeno remembered, a smile rising to his face as he remembered the hot-tempered siren. Then he got happier as he realised he would get to see him again, in a fortnight. Well, a fortnight couldn't come fast enough.
In fact, it came slowly, painfully so. Jeno was swamped with rebuilding the island after the storm. He had to help clean up the beach, and rebuild buildings that lost parts and he had to drain the very pool he found Renjun in. The entire time, he just couldn't get his mind off that beautiful boy, and his voice his enchanting voice. Jeno was glad that he was immune to the siren music because it meant the got to see Renjun again, it meant he had a chance at friendship, or perhaps more.
Once the clean up was done, his work proceeded as normal, carting people off to the other islands and bringing tourists back, stepping in place for lifeguards who couldn't make it, and, arguably his favourite job, monitoring the sea. Every once and a while he would be sent out to ride the oceans, check on the nets and make sure there was nothing weird or peculiar going on in the waters.
He secretly hoped to catch a glimpse of Renjun gliding beneath the waves, but it never happened.
He never saw Renjun until two weeks later, In a fortnight by this dock. The six words that got Jeno through that hell week. He loved his little island, but things got boring, things got repetitive, but Renjun gave him something new and interesting to look forward to.
So around 4 am Jeno woke up (he didn't sleep much, to begin with) and he walked down to the docks. It wasn't a far walk since the island wasn't very big, but it was still pretty long. Next time he would have to tell Renjun to go to the dock at the private beach next to his house. That would be both, more secluded and less of a walk.
The breeze was cold and salty, he could almost feel the brine in his hair, blown in the winds from the waves crashing at his feet. The old docks creaked beneath each step, These ought to be fixed soon, he thought as he jumped over another hole left in the wood from the storm two weeks ago. This area was still off limits to all, except Jeno, since he had the authority and the guise that he was just “checking up on the docks.”
He was checking up on something alright.
Oh rather, checking out, someone.
Renjun was peeking out from beneath one of the dock poles, the barnacles blending in his perfectly pale skin, as his eyes flashed green, “Jeno!”
His voice was melodic and eerie, but Jeno was so in love with the sound dancing in his ears. Renjun pushed himself back, dipping underwater and swimming back before resurfacing. His eyes swam with mirth and excitement, mixed with mischief as his dark pupils met Jeno’s awestruck ones.
“Hi,” Jeno breathed out like his breath was being drawn out by Renjun’s intense gaze.
Then he giggled, soft yet hi-pitched and he couldn't help but compare it to the sound of a brook babbling.
“What have you been doing since we saw each other last, human?” Renjun asked, his lips shifting back to his usual smirk as Jeno crouched down to the siren’s level.
“Hmmmm,” Jeno thought, “Just cleaning up after the storm. Fixing houses and cleaning the streets and sailing the ocean to find any missed items.”
Renjun smiled. He hated the way conversation flowed so easily between them, since he knew he would eventually have to give Jeno up. Because Sirens were creatures of the sea, horrible horrible creatures of the sea that lured sailors to their deaths. If anything, it was the mermaids that deserved love, they were the only ones that had experienced love from humans. There had not once been so much of a story of a romance between a siren and a human.
But just like Mermaids, Sirens fell in love hard and fast.
And Renjun could already feel himself falling like a pebble tumbling down Mariana's Trench.
“Are you a sailor then?” Renjun asked, perching his arms up on the dock so he could be just a bit closer to Jeno.
“Of sorts.” Jeno smiled.
“Hmmm,” Renjun hummed before reaching up and cupping Jeno’s cheek. The sailor gasped at the sudden contact. Renjun’s hands were cold yet, the feeling was nothing short of addicting.
“Are you my jolly sailor bold?” Renjun asked, his voice airy like the sound of wind chimes being blown in the sea breeze, There is nothing can console me, Jeno thought back to the morning two weeks ago, but my jolly sailor bold, Renjun’s voice echoed enchantingly in his ear.
“Perhaps.” Jeno grinned, “Would you like it if I was?”
“I would quite like it.” Renjun smiled, the sight of the siren smiling warming Jeno’s heart considerably.
“I’m not supposed to talk to humans,” Renjun pushed away, letting his upper body drop back into the water, with not so much as a sound, until his just his head and shoulders were above the harbour waters.
“Then why do you talk to me?” Jeno asked, “Don't get me wrong, I like you- I like talking to you, but why? Why are you 'not supposed to talk to humans'”
“Because Sirens don't fall in love with humans.” Renjun mused, “But I think I’ve broken the rules a little bit.” He grinned up at Jeno.
Jeno’s heart swooped as a smile rose to his face on its own accord, “So you’ll stay?”
He had grown fond of the siren over the past two weeks. Maybe it was just the mystique or the magic, but he was developing feelings faster than he ever had in his entire years of living.
“Of course I'll stay.”
Renjun perched his forearms back on the dock, leaning up until he was inches away from Jeno’s face, “I quite like you.”
He hummed, his eyes flashing that brilliant green before fluttering shut as his finger traced along Jeno’s jawline, “My jolly sailor bold.”
And then Renjun’s cold lips were on Jeno’s. But they weren't cold for long. Jeno did a good job at warming them up.
Life has a crazy way of retaining its normalcy even in the wildest of times.
Jeno learned that fact when he found out that sirens were real, but still had to go to work in the morning. Even though he had made this life-altering discovery, he still had to do his everyday chores like check up on the town, do his rounds of the docks and all the other menial things he did in his everyday life. It almost seemed unfair that, though all he wanted to do was sail the seas and spend his time with his new...aquatic pal, he still had to go about his daily tasks. The only thing getting him through the day was the fact that he would get to see Renjun again in two weeks. Same time same place. The two weeks they spent apart seemed to drag on and on. A minute felt like an hour and the days seemed to never end. Part of Jeno was kind of scared that he felt such a deep attachment to the siren, but he also couldn't find it in himself to care.
“Jeno!” Mark’s voice cut through Jeno’s dazed state. The bleach blonde lazily looked up at Mark, his eyes bored as he struggled to give Mark his full attention.
“Yeah?” Jeno straightened and sat into his hip, crossing his arms over his chest.
“There's a shipment of pineapples at the main island that needs to be taken over here, can you get them?” Mark asked as he looked at his watch, “I would but I have to help Sandy restock The Spritz, and I seriously have no time.”
Well, it would get Jeno off of the island and on the ocean, and that definitely wasn't something to complain about.
“Sure, but you owe me a dinner.” Jeno broke out in a grin at the way Mark visibly relaxed.
“You're a god, Jeno.” Mark thanked him before taking off in the direction of The Spritz.
It only took seven minutes to walk down to the docks and another two minutes to get his boat started. It felt nice to have the briny salt air breezing through his hair as he took off down the ocean. The waves were high and the water was choppy but Jeno didn't mind, it’s not like he was in the water anyway. Jeno smiled big as he thought about how Renjun was probably swimming deep below somewhere.
What if his spell actually worked on me? Jeno had a passing thought. Though it did sort of make sense since it was almost unnatural how infatuated he was with this boy (boy?) he had only just met.
The boat bounced off the white waves, speeding through the ocean until Jeno purposely slowed down as he reached the reef. He knew that it was easy to hit the coral or sometimes the animals that grazed the area.
As he slowly drove through the reef he spotted something in his peripheral. It was a turtle, which wouldn't be too out of the ordinary since this was the ocean and all, but this turtle was trapped in a net. It was illegal to net turtles in this area, so Jeno frowned and stalled the engine entirely. He toed off his shoes and grabbed a knife from the first aid kit and jumped into the water. It was cold, but a nice change from the humidity above the water. He slowly paddled up to the turtle, grabbing the net and pulling it close. The turtle struggled for a moment, obviously trying to get away from Jeno, but the boy wrapped an arm around the shell and got to work untangling the net.
In the corner of his eye, he saw a brief flash of pink, startling him and making him whip around to look. When he struggled to pinpoint the source of the flash of colour, he blamed it on his poor vision underwater. He let go of the turtle only once to go to the surface and get some more air, catching that same flash of pink when he swam back to the turtle. He ignored it this time, working faster on the tight ropes around the turtle.
Once he was done, he let the turtle go, watching the creature float through the water easily. He was about to push off the reef and swim to the surface, when he saw another flash of pink, though this time he actually found the source.
There, staring back at him was a boy. Well...not a boy, he had a tail, just like Renjun, but this definitely isn't Renjun. The boy had a pale pink tail, so pale it was almost skin colour, and his hair was a dusty rose, shining golden under the mottled sunlight.
Jeno’s lungs screamed at him to return to the surface, but his body was frozen in shock. Fear flashed in the boy’s eyes as he turned to swim away, and Jeno wanted to swim after him, but before he could even think about moving, a huge wave crashed into his boat making it lurch forward and hit his head.
The last thing he saw was the boy swimming towards him, worry written on his face before Jeno’s world went black.
He woke up to the sound of the ocean and waves gently lapping at his hips. It took a second for Jeno to adjust, but once he did, he shot up gripping his head in pain. Vertigo gripped him for a second before he calmed, taking deep breaths and adjusting to the bright light from the sunset.
Blinking, he tried to remember why the hell he was sitting on a beach when the memories hit him like a train. (or a boat). There was another siren, this one with pink hair and a pink tail. Quite the opposite of Renjun. He ran a hair through his hair, sand tumbling down onto his shoulders as he pushed himself to stand.
He should have drowned, he should've died, he should've at least be choking on water, but he was fine. He got up and started walking up the old wooden staircase to his cottage.
What happened? How did I get here? Who saved me? Who was that boy?
His thoughts were interrupted by a shrill panicked voice.
“Jeno! Oh my God, I was worried sick looking for you!” Mark yelled as he ran up to Jeno, catching the boy by his shoulders.
“What? You were looking for me?” Jeno asked his eyebrows furrowing in confusion.
“Oh my god of course! You left to go to the main island and it took you awhile so I went out to check on you...I thought maybe the load was too big or something but I found your boat. Alone.” Mark explained as Jeno gasped in realisation.
So that really did happen.
“What happened?” Mark asked, his eyes filled with concern.
I don't know…
“I’ll tell you about it later, I’m like really tired.” Jeno steepled his temples, exhaustion washing over him.
“Oh yeah, of course, I’ll see you tomorrow?” Mark asked, gently rubbing Jeno’s shoulder.
He nodded, turning back to walk the sandy path to his little cottage. Sliding his hands into his pocket, he felt a small object, smooth yet foreign to his touch. He frowned as he pulled it out, realisation dawning on his features as he stopped in his tracks.
That definitely wasn't there before.
The second he got to his cottage, he immediately passed out, sleeping through the night and well into the morning. When he woke up he felt positively rested for once but as he got dressed, he got the worst sinking feeling in his gut. I was supposed to meet Renjun today, He realised as he drew in a shocked gasp. It was way past their agreed meeting time, but Jeno still threw on a shirt and put on his shoes.
There was no sign of Renjun at the docks. If only I woke up earlier, Jeno chided himself as he frowned down at the chipping worn wood of the docks. He reached the end of the marina with a sigh, looking out at the beach with disdain in his eyes.
“Gee who made you angry?” a voice said, making Jeno snap to his left. At his side was Lee Donghyuck, one of the “locals” on the island. Not many people lived on Staniel Cay since it was mainly a vacation spot for the fortunate folks who could afford it, but there were a handful of people who lived there year-round. Donghyuck was one of those people, however, no one knew where he came from. He just… showed up one day with no explanation and no back story.
The boy’s hair shone silver under the bright sun, and his smile was brighter than the harsh rays beating down on them. Jeno could see a hint of mischief in his eyes, hidden only by the dark sunglasses perched on his nose.
“No one,” Jeno sighed for what seemed to be the hundredth time that day, “I'm just frustrated. With myself.”
Donghyuck sensed that he didn't want to talk about it anymore so he reached down and grabbed the boy’s hand with a chimerical grin.
“Come sit on the beach with me! It’ll help you chill out and stuff.” Donghyuck suggested, though before Jeno could agree or disagree, the boy was already dragging him down into the sand. The silver hair boy snagged them chairs by the waterside.
Jeno appreciated the notion and sat down, running a hand through his hair as he let the warm sun ease his mind for just a moment.
“You're not gonna get a tan in those clothes,” Donghyuck said as he rolled onto his side, peering at Jeno over the rim of his sunglasses.
“Or skin cancer,” Jeno snorted as he made a point of looking Donghyuck up and down. The boy had always been tan, but recently his skin looked to be darker, or maybe that was just because the sun was being covered by a couple of ominous clouds.
“Please,” Donghyuck rolled his eyes and flopped over onto his back, “I don't even smoke.”
Jeno’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, and he was about to open his mouth to protest but before he could, there was a loud crashing sound behind them. Donghyuck sat up and turned to look at the pool shack aka the source of the sound, before turning back to Jeno.
“That definitely sounds like a you problem.” Donghyuck slid back down.
Jeno breathed out a laugh before slapping Donghyuck’s thigh and getting up. Cautiously, he got up and walked over to the shack. The lock was snapped right off and the door was slightly ajar, that's definitely not a good sign. Jeno threw Donghyuck a desperate look, to which the younger pointedly ignored. Taking in a deep breath, Jeno pushed the door open, gasping in shock when he found what, or rather who, had caused the sound.
Standing in the middle of the shack, was Renjun. You know? The siren Jeno had become taken with? Except this time...he didn't have a tail, instead, he had a pair of very real human legs.