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i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

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“Now, I demand a love that is stupid and beautiful, like a pilot turning off her engines mid-flight to listen for rain on wings”

- Paige Lewis, Pavlov Was the Son of a Priest

 

 

 

 

“Look,” says the guy standing next to a trash can that is on fire, “it’s not what it looks like.”

 

They’re in the women’s bathroom. There’s no windows. It’s just the two of them, awkwardly eyeing one another, each panicked for very different reasons.

 

Mermista looks at him, and then back at the flaming trash can, and then to the fire alarm, which is going to go off any second now, unless he puts it out, and then to the boy, who is desperately trying to smother it with – dry paper towels? – and raises an eyebrow. “Okay,” she drawls, “what does this look like?”

 

He opens his mouth.

 

There’s another split second where Mermista looks at the fire alarm, thinks about all the beautiful fossils that she actually, like, cares about, and smooths her mouth into a thin, unimpressed line. “Actually, whatever,” she says, and swings her backpack to her front, rummaging through it. “Just give me your water bottle.” She locates her own out of her backpack, and pops the lid off, beginning to pour water over the fire. “I don’t, like, actually care.”


“Right,” he says, faintly. He looks a little bit red.

 

The fire hisses and smoke starts to rise.

 

“Get damp paper towels,” she adds, “and put it over the fire. We’re, like, kind of in a hurry here.”

 

“Right,” he says again. She rolls her eyes, keeps pouring.

 

Smoke is starting to come out, faster, and her eyes are stinging. The plastic of the trash bag is probably melting, because it stinks, too. He dumps some towels over the whole thing, and then runs to the sink get more. Mermista looks up to the fire alarm, wipes at her watering eyes to clear her vision. Seriously, she thinks, this is like, the system that I trust my life to everyday? It hasn’t even made a single beep.

 

She thinks back to those stupid safety videos her dad made her watch. Okay, like, maybe they’re useful now, but whatever. At the time they were stupid. What does she need to do – separate the embers. She looks doubtfully at the trashcan full of paper and lets out a breath. This’ll have to do.

 

The guy dumps an armful of paper towels, successfully smothering the embers. She decides it’s not worth mixing it up.

 

“I think we’re good,” she says, taking a deep breath and thumbing over her metallic name tag. His eyes track the movement, widen almost imperceptibly, jaw working–

 

As if right on cue, the fire alarm begins to trill.

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to scorpia (11:23 am): SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL. STUNNING. THE HEAVENS CAME DOWN AND SANG

scorpia (11:23 am): wait, what? i’m not following here, buddy

sea hawk (11:23 am): MY SOULMATE

scorpia (11:26 am): no WAY!!!! oh my god!!!!! what’s her name

scorpia (11:26 am): wait stupid question i know her name whats she like

sea hawk (11:27 am): AMAZING. SMART. GREAT IN A CRISIS

scorpia (11:27 am): in a crisis?

sea hawk (11:27 am): SHE ALSO MAYBE THINKS I’M A CRIMINAL

 

 

 

 

 

(Mermista has a name tucked into her right inner wrist written in a tight scrawl. Solomon, deep crimson, a little messy but easy to read, all caps, no last name. A common enough name to be impossible to find if she went looking. Not that she’s bothered, of course. She hasn’t, like, googled it, or whatever.

 

It’s just, like, really annoying to only have a first name.

 

Mermista doesn’t actually care.)

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to scorpia (12:13 pm): DO YOU THINK SHE’D APPRECIATE BEING WOOED

scorpia (12:14 pm): i mean, she is your soulmate

sea hawk (12:14 pm): FAIR POINT, MY LOYAL FRIEND

sea hawk (12:14 pm): DO YOU THINK SHE’D CALL THE POLICE

scorpia (12:15 pm): this is so rough, bud

 

 

 

 

 

Unsurprisingly, Mermista’s phone starts buzzing the moment the alarm starts blaring. She waits until she’s safely outside to look at her texts, and when she does, she heaves a huge sigh.

 

bow to museum crew (11:15 am): where are you guys the fire alarm is ringing

 

There’s a couple messages after this that say to go to the entrance and Mermista, a little guiltily, taps out a late response. She, like, hates this group chat. All the interns can be so annoying and they never stop texting. But whatever. She spends a couple moments trying to figure out how to clarify what’s going on, and decides it’s too confusing.

 

mermista (11:24 am): don’t panic everything is fine literally chill

bow (11:24 am): no offense mermista how can you know it’s fine

mermista (11:24 am): cause like

mermista (11:25 am): i might have set off the fire alarm

adora (11:26 am): WHAT

glimmer (11:26 am): what???

catra (11:26 am): um. what?

perfuma (11:26 am): whattttt

frosta (11:26 am): what

 

Mermista rolls her eyes. Of course.

 

mermista (11:27 am): dinosaur cafe for lunch?

 

Everyone gets to their designated table at the Dinosaur Café in record time. Mermista is waiting for them, head in her arms as she mentally prepares herself for the story. She, like, really doesn’t want to get into it, but by the time everyone is sitting, she can’t help but open her mouth and recount it.

 

“What was his name?” says Adora once Mermista’s finished. She looks somewhere between bemused and utterly invested in the museum-going, fire-starting, wrong-bathroom-using stranger Mermista just met. She drums her fingers on the table. Glimmer and Bow sit beside her with twin expressions of interest and confusion.

 

Mermista lifts her shoulders halfheartedly. “I don’t actually know, okay?” she crosses her arms. “He just, like, started a fire and disappeared when the alarm went off.”

 

Glimmer reaches over and takes Mermista’s hand, which is like, sweet or whatever, but Mermista doesn’t need any pity. It’s not like he was her soulmate. He was just some random dude who, like, showed up and nearly set a world-famous museum on fire. Mermista snatches her hand away.

 

“But everyone’s okay,” says Perfuma worriedly.

 

“You mean is Mermista okay,” says Glimmer.

 

Mermista thinks she’s going to get a headache. “You’re just happy because you don’t have to take the second shift for tours,” she says, to no one in particular, and takes a long, annoyed sip of her matcha latte.

 

 

 

 

 

google search: HOW TO EXPLAIN YOUR OUT OF CONTEXT AND POSSIBLY INCRIMINATING MEETING WITH YOUR SOULMATE

google search: BRIGHT MOON NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM TOUR GUIDES

google search: CUTE FIRST DATES

google search: CUTE WEDDING THEMES

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista enters the Bright Moon Natural History Museum aquatic fossils exhibit on Tuesday, squares her shoulders, and tries to put on her least annoyed smile. She probably looks lame, but she looks lame in her bright blue polo and ugly-but-sensible walking shoes and mini microphone, so it’s not like a smile is going to do anything anyway. Plus, she, like, likes this job.

 

She waits by the appropriate kiosk for people to show up and get the right sized group for the Aqua Tour. She only gets four or five people, but she waits until the last moment anyway. There’s a baby strapped to his mother’s back, a pair of gangly teenagers with their exhausted parents, and an old man in socks and sandals.

 

“Is this everyone?” she mutters to Entrapta, who’s manning the kiosk.

 

“There should be one more,” says Entrapta matter-of-factly. “Someone who booked a tour in advance.”

 

No one except weirdos do that. Mermista sighs. “They’re gonna be late,” she groans. “This is so lame.” Her group looks scraggly and bored already. “Two more minutes,” she promises them as brightly as she can.

 

They wait around for two more minutes. The baby starts crying and the mother starts bouncing to hush him. “I’m sorry,” she tells everyone literally twelve times. Mermista does her best not to roll her eyes. The tour will start soon, she promises herself, and everything will be fine.

 

As she thinks this, someone bursts through the entrance. They’re out of breath, barely anything more than the squeak of sneakers against marble and flying limbs as they dash towards the kiosk. “Excuse...me...ma’am…” they say, and now that they aren’t moving they look like…

 

“I’m here for a super aqua tour?” says the boy who literally set the trash can on fire yesterday.

 

Entrapta doesn’t even blink. “Right here! We were just waiting for you.”

 

The boy puts his hand to his chest (who does that?) and beams. “What would this world be without people like you!” he cries, and then looks around, presumably, for Mermista. He looks a little dazed. Mermista is trying to come up with reasons why he’s here, on a tour with her, and finds she can come up with zero explanations. She blinks at him.

 

“Hi,” she says. “I’ll be your tour guide today.”

 

She waits for him to say something. He doesn’t.

 

Allllright. “My name is Mermista, and this is the Aqua Tour. If this is the wrong tour, my friend Entrapta here can point you to the right one.” She forces the scowl off her face. “How many of you folks are interested in aquatic mammals?”

 

No hands go up. The boy from yesterday looks at his group members with a vaguely disappointed air and pushes his own arm up, straight and straining towards the ceiling. Mermista sighs. This is going to be a long tour. “Great,” she says, working a smile into her tone like Bow tried to teach her. “We love seeing young marine biologists here at Bright Moon Natural History Museum.”

 

The boy opens his mouth to correct her, presumably because he had a question instead of an interest in the ocean. She shoots him an acerbic look and he snaps his jaws shut with a soft click. “To your right is the largest and best preserved fossil of an aquatic mammal,” she begins, and talks about its feeding habits, and how you can see that from the outlines near its stomach, and then from the shape of its teeth.

 

She almost forgets he’s watching her intently as she does it, moving from fossil to fossil as they make their way to the taxidermied walruses and aquarium section. She explains where life came from, and then talks about interesting features of each fossil, going chronologically. “Here,” she says as the tour begins to wind down, “is where we can see what our fossils evolved into.” To prove her point, she points out some similar bone structure that she had shown them in the previous fossils in the earlier rooms. “Isn’t that amazing?”

 

The guy is the only one who nods enthusiastically. He looks, like, actually interested, which is weird, because yesterday he was literally trying to burn the museum down, or something. Mermista doesn’t try to understand it.

 

Instead, she launches into her speech about how these animals are in danger of extinction, effectively cutting short the evolution of what she had shown them just a half hour earlier. She talks about global warming, and then about plastic, and then about dead zones in places like Mexico and how to prevent them.

 

As they reach the end of the tour, they’re standing by the pollution exhibit. It’s Mermista’s favorite, because it’s got a bunch of interactive sections for kids. “That’s all, folks,” she says, and her mouth is starting to hurt from literally smiling the whole way through, and then she notices that he’s smiling, too, and she stops smiling. “If you’re interested in environmental consciousness, this is a great exhibit to check it out.”

 

With that, and with their thanks, she hurries down the hallway, when–

 

“Wait! Mermista!”

 

She whirls around. “How do you know my name?”

 

He shifts his feet. “Your name tag?”

 

She blinks at him, because he’s literally talking to her even though she could get him convicted of arson, what on Earth, and struggles to complete a sentence through her confusion. “What are you – why are you here?”

 

He shrugs. “I’ve been framed by Lady Fortune for an arson I did not commit,” he says, by way of answering, even though Mermista is very doubtful the fire wasn’t his fault. There was, after all, no one else there. She’s pretty sure that’s what he’s talking about, anyway. If she focuses too hard, she’ll get a headache.

 

He looks at her with careful eyes, and Mermista sighs, and squares her shoulders, and thinks about how genuinely stupid she is. She raises a single unimpressed eyebrow, folds her arm over her chest, and gives him her most deeply uninterested stare. “Okay,” she says with deep apathy, “whose fault was it?”

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to scorpia (12:54 pm): SHE KNOWS SO MUCH ABOUT MARINE BIOLOGY

scorpia (12:55 pm): so you decided on taking a tour with her?

sea hawk (12:55 pm): SCORPIA I THINK IM IN LOVE

 

 

 

 

 

His name is Sea Hawk, and he literally does not stop talking. Mermista thinks she has sighed more times in the past thirty minutes than she has, like, ever. “So this criminal, right–” he says, and she pinches her nose.

 

“The seventeen-year-old with illegal weed,” she corrects.

 

“Yes. Him.” Sea Hawk shakes a self righteous fist. “He was smoking with this – this girl –” he spits the word out like it’s poisonous, “– and I caught them.”

 

They’re in the museum café, and Mermista has a steaming cup of green tea, because he insisted on buying something for her. He’s recounted – in detail – his so-called epic tale of scaring off some teengers for smoking in the girls’ bathroom and before that, told her about his job at a bookstore, and before that told her about his mother, for some reason Mermista cannot figure out.

 

She sighs again. “And threw their blunts in the trash? And caused a fire?”

 

He nods vigorously.

 

“And you came to tell me this, why?”

 

Here he pauses. The thing is, Mermista is, like, charmed. She’s annoyed, but Mermista is always annoyed, and so it’s more important that she’s charmed than anything else. After all, he’s cute. He’s lanky and has this stupid handlebar mustache like a hipster from twenty twelve, and like, he’s dressed in a slouchy sweater and has a terrible, horrible, red work out headband, so he looks like a professor got midway from changing into his gym clothes before he got distracted, and Mermista hates that that’s cute, but, like, it is.

 

She clears the thought and blushes and looks at him expectantly for an answer. He also looks a little panicked, and then pulls out a pen, and takes her hand, and she, like, lets him, and scrawls some numbers in handwriting that looks weirdly familiar and then says, “textme,” very quickly, all one word, and then leaves before she can say anything else.

 

It takes her twenty minutes to figure out that his ones aren’t sevens with the cross through the middle, but instead that he just made the base a little too high in his rush.

 

 

 

 

 

unknown number to sea hawk (9:43 pm): hey it’s mermista

sea hawk (9:44 pm): SALUTATIONS. IT IS A PLEASURE TO FINALLY TEXT

unknown number (9:44 pm): your enthusiasm is literally blinding and why is that all in capitals

sea hawk (9:5 pm): MY FRIENDS SAY ITS CHARMING

 

 

 

 

 

google search: sea hawk

google search: seahawk????

google search: sea hawk instagram

google search: sea hawk twitter

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hawk is less of an employee of the greatest used book store of all time, and more the expert on the romance section. He knows everything about books that come their way, which paperback is a rare, no longer in print edition, and which they should just sell for cheap. He keeps his tattoo bared, unusual if he weren’t such a romantic – Mermista in a neat blue scrawl.

 

He’s been told, once or twice, that he could probably google her if he really wanted to find her. It’s an uncommon name. Sea Hawk knows a thing or two about uncommon items, particularly romance novels. And alas, epic love stories, for one, are much better found than made. Adventure is the key to everything – and finding a partner is the best adventure of them all.

 

And so he shows up at the museum the next day with some leftover enchiladas from his mami (which he had ensured Mermista would eat after a brief text conversation) and waits for her in the place where they’d finished the tour just a day ago. If Sea Hawk were a rich man, he’d take that tour every day. Mermista was – is – a shining beacon of knowledge. He could wax poetry about the look in her eyes as she pointed out the shape of a fossil’s teeth.

 

Sea Hawk is, in fact, rather good at waxing poetry.

 

“Um,” says Mermista, when he shows up. “You aren’t, like, stalking me, right?”

 

Sea Hawk shakes his head slowly and holds out his paper bag lunch. “I thought we could have a picnic,” he says instead, watching one of her impeccably dark and thick eyebrows retreat into her hairline. And then, when creases begin to deepen in her forehead, he adds, “I’m wooing you.”

 

“Normally,” she responds dryly, “people don’t woo the people who catch them hypothetically committing arson in a museum bathroom.”

 

“I am completely innocent of that charge. And they do if they’re–” soulmates. Sea Hawk can’t bring himself to say the word aloud. He gulps loudly. “Anyway. Do you accept my proposal?” he says, and bows deep to hide the blush in his cheeks, offering his hand at the same time.

 

She laughs at him, but takes his hand all the same. “You are so lame,” she says, and he grins up at her. She doesn’t ask where they’re going as he leads her out, just texts the group chat that she won’t meet them for lunch and doesn’t specify why. She assumes he’s taking her to the park a couple blocks away, which is literally going to be super crowded for a Saturday in July, but she doesn’t say that.

 

As they walk, they talk. Or – Sea Hawk talks. The only question he refuses to answer is if Sea Hawk’s his real name. He tells her about literally anything he can think of. Once, he points at the sky to show her a bunny-shaped cloud. Mermista thinks it looks more like a cloud than anything else.

 

She finds out he’s a student at the same university in town studying literature. She discovers he can sail and is planning to spend his year after graduation sailing. He tells her that he’s a middle child, and that he’s bested everyone he’s ever challenged in an arm wrestling match. Mermista looks at his arms, and decides she does not believe him.

 

Mermista, by the end of the walk, knows way too much about Sea Hawk, but being particularly annoyed about it. She’s ends up being right, too, about their destination. It’s the park she predicted, and it’s super crowded. “Well,” says Sea Hawk, scratching his neck, “this did not go as planned.”

 

She rolls her eyes. “Look,” she says, “you’ve convinced me you’re not a criminal. Can I go home now?”

 

He blinks at her for a moment. She’s still in her polo shirt and has her Hi! I’m Mermista tag on. “...Don’t you have work?” he manages after a pause, voice faint.

 

She shakes her head. “No. I finish early on Saturdays.” She’s not sure why she’s telling a stranger important information on how to stalk her. It’s like Mermista wants to be murdered in the dead of night when she’s least expecting it. Next, she’ll be giving him her address. He makes this face, though, that looks so impossibly sad, it’s like he’s pouting, and, like, grown men should not be allowed to pout, because they look dumb, but Sea Hawk always looks dumb, just now he looks dumb and sad – no, forlorn, really, and Mermista sighs and wonders why she has a death wish and rolls her eyes and says, “Look, I know a good spot for a picnic.”

 

The effect is immediate. He brightens up at once. “Really?” he says, in a whisper, and then puffs out his chest. “Of course,” he corrects himself, “You are a true lady.” She’s beginning to regret this. “Lead the way, madam!”

 

“You have to stop being lame, though,” she tells him, “or I will leave you here.”

 

She begins to walk off in the direction of the spot. He doesn’t follow her – just stands there, baffled and a little lost, and Mermista literally has to turn around, and tell him to hurry up, for him to like, even start moving, and then he starts calling after her asking if she really thinks he’s lame, and Mermista just keeps asking herself why she’s being so nice to this random guy who, like, might kill her, and really only wants to get to know her to prove he’s not a criminal.

 

She massages the bridge of her nose and keeps walking.

 

 

 

 

 

“I just think,” says Sea Hawk, waving his hands around like he’s trying to do an interpretive dance, “that romance as a genre is more inherently feminist than it gets credit for.”

 

“Right,” says Mermista dubiously. They have been talking about this for literally an hour. She’s smiling, but, like, she’s not really enjoying it. It’s just funny, that’s all, okay?

 

“I mean,” says Sea Hawk, “I have many talents but my best one is, in fact, that I can accurately deduce which romance novel is perfect for someone just by having a five minute conversation with them. It’s like I match soulmates, but the soulmate is literature and not a person.”

Mermista blinks. “Right,” she says. “And you get to know them, how?”

 

“Hm?”

 

You don’t stop talking, she mentally explains. Instead, she says, “What’s my soulmate?”

 

He goes very deep red. Mermista’s eyes flit for a moment onto his bare wrist, where there’s a name scrawled, and then he moves his arm into his lap and stutters for two minutes, and she lifts an unimpressed eyebrow, and he says, “Come to my book store,” and packs up very quickly and runs away.

 

“What’s his problem?” she mutters, watching him leave.

 

 

 

 

 

perfuma to mermista (12:52 am): heyyyyy u wanna go out w the squad tmrw???

mermista (12:55 am): we have work monday

perfuma (12:56 am): oh shit yeah i meant our day off today. sunday. but like after sleeping

mermista (12:56 am): cant. i made plans

 

 

 

 

 

google search: HOW TO TELL YOUUR SOULMATE YOURE SOULMATES

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hawk gets to work early to stack books and to rearrange the romance section display. Scorpia comes, too, to make conversation and – mostly – to gossip. Sea Hawk tells her about how Mermista is movie star stunning, how she saved their picnic – a true hero – but falters when Scorpia asks, “So you told her you’re her soulmate?”

 

“Well…” Sea Hawk makes a finger gun. “Not exactly.” 

 

“Sea Hawk,” says Scorpia disapprovingly. “Communication is key in relationships.”

 

Sea Hawk lifts his shoulders unconvincingly. “It isn’t the right time,” he says. “I need to be sure that I – that we–”

 

“You want her to like you without having to like you just because you’re soulmates,” guesses Scorpia.

 

Sea Hawk nods. “That’s exactly it.” And then he pauses and carefully places another book to make a perfect display pyramid. “And...I want to wait to fall for her. So that it isn’t because we’re soulmates, but for the sake of pure romance.” He looks up at her, searching for understanding in her expression.

 

Scorpia pats him with her red prosthetic arm. “I understand,” she says. She is, after all, the most understanding woman to walk the Earth, in Sea Hawk’s humble opinion. “How’s your novel coming along?” she adds after a moment.

 

Sea Hawk shushes her violently. “What novel?” he calls out to what only appears to be an empty bookstore. “Scorpia!” he whispers. “You can’t just ask about a secret novel.”

 

“Riiiight…” says Scorpia lowly. “But no one’s here?”

 

“Not that we know of,” he says, and she furrows her eyebrows, but doesn’t push him.

 

At that moment, the bell chimes, and Sea Hawk makes another motion, an I told you so motion, and Scorpia lifts her hands in defeat. “Hello!” she calls, making her way to the front. “Do you need any assistance?”

 

There’s a brief silence. “I, um,” says a voice, low and struggling to sound casual. “I thought Sea Hawk might be here, but if he isn’t–”

 

“Oh my God, ” says Scorpia, “you’re Sea Hawk’s–”

“Hello! ” says Sea Hawk very loudly, rushing to the front. “It’s good to see you, Mermista!” he says, and holds out his right hand, which has her name written on its inner wrist, and so he pulls it away just as she’s reaching for it, which makes him look very awkward indeed, but so is the cost of waiting for the right time to inform his soulmate they’re soulmates.

 

Mermista blinks at him. “Riiight,” she says. “Not going to get into that.”

 

He appreciates that. “So you’re here for a book,” he says, and she nods.

 

Scorpia mouths your book? at him and Sea Hawk pushes her and then leans on the counter like he’d tripped instead. Mermista doesn’t really react besides lifting her eyebrows up in an unimpressed way, which she seems to do when she doesn’t know how else to react, so Sea Hawk decides he’s in the clear.

 

“Right,” says Sea Hawk pleasantly. “Let me take you to the romance section, curated by yours truly.”



“Right,” says Mermista.

 

“Do you, um, want to get lunch after?” he says.

 

“You know,” says Mermista, weirdly gently, “I don’t think you’re a criminal anymore.”



Sea Hawk blinks at her. “Because I’m innocent.”



“I just think you’re a fire hazard.”

 

His hand goes to his chest. “I have only caused one fire since I’ve met you!” he says, and Scorpia makes a noise from the front.

 

“It’s his record!” she calls, and Mermista blinks, and now – of course – she really does think he’s an arsonist, which means Lady Fate truly is testing him, and so is Scorpia, and where on Earth is the book he’s looking for, the one that’s perfect for Mermista? He sighs and thumbs through the shelves.

 

“I’m not an arsonist,” he tells Mermista, just in case, and Mermista shrugs.



“Sure,” she says, like she doesn’t believe him.

 

 

 

 

 

mermista to sea hawk (4:33 am): you didn’t tell me this was a series and it ends on a cliffhanger

 

sea hawk (8:07 am): WEIRD BUT CONCERNED QUESTION: DID YOU SLEEP LAST NIGHT?

 

 

 

 

 

For a maybe-arsonist, Mermista decides, Sea Hawk is a very upstanding citizen. He claims to be an adventurer, but drives just under the speed limit, consequently making him late to the scheduled time at the museum. Mermista is, like, dead on her feet, but she needs the next book, okay?

 

Like, Sea Hawk is a major weirdo, but he’s a genius and this book is, like, her soulmate. She’s going crazy. She needs the next book like she needs caffeine.

 

He’s twenty minutes late. If he died from walking too slowly Mermista is going to kill him a second time. She’s had so much caffeine already her fingers are tapping a crazy rhythm against the table. She’s probably got horrible bags under her eyes and her hair is in this terrible, messy bun with more stray hairs falling out than actually held up in the first place.

 

When he bursts through the door – dramatic as always – she gives him a death glare that probably looks more ravenous as she downs the rest of her coffee. “Need. Book.”

 

She’s turned into a neanderthal. Mermista does not care. She wants the book.

 

Sea Hawk looks at her, concerned. “You’re shaking,” he says.

 

“Next tour. Soon. Book.”

 

“Are you...well?”

 

She makes a noise akin to a growl, and he hurriedly pulls the damn thing out of his bag. “You are well, though, aren’t you? I can’t just leave you–”

 

She snatches the book out of his hand and opens it. “Tour at one,” she says, before he can ask.

 

“Right,” he says. “I’m going to stay here to make sure you’re not late, then.”



She grunts in response.

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hawk watches anxiously as Mermista turns from a nonverbal entity to an eloquent tour guide, before quickly returning to her book like a goblin. He decides she must have picked up this skill from college, and then wonders why he’s so amused, or why he’s stayed around long enough to make sure she was going to be okay.

 

“I can drive you home,” he says, after a while. “It really is unsafe to drive with the amount of sleep you have.”

 

Mermista looks at him with the suppressed rage of someone about to commit first degree murder, and not the annoyance of someone whose reading has been interrupted. She has stopped blinking. Sea Hawk’s pretty sure she hasn’t blinked in the past half hour. “I took the bus,” she grits out.

 

“Ah,” he says. He waits another hour with his own book, and then she taps him to ask him – slightly more pleasantly – if the offer still stands.

 

As soon as they’ve strapped in, Sea Hawk turns to ask if the music’s too loud, or if anything’s wrong, and finds her snoring against the window, book still open on her lap. He pulls out a bookmark, tucks it in and closes the book, turns the music down low, and pulls out his phone to type her address into google maps.

 

He pauses, looks over to the peacefully sleeping Mermista, and then – panics.

 

He doesn’t know her address.

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to scorpia (6:14 pm): SHE’S NOT WAKING UP??? WHAT DO I DO

scorpia (6:15 pm): let her sleep

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista wakes up groggy. It’s dark out, and she’s, like, unsure where she is, or in whose bed, because this is definitely not her apartment, and her first thought is that she was right, and Sea Hawk has kidnapped her. She checks her phone to see if anyone’s texted her, finds it’s not in her pocket, and briefly panics, only to realize it’s sitting on the pillow next to her, plugged into the wall and charging. When she unlocks it, she finds the usual group chat notifications and nothing else.

 

Of course.

 

“Hello?” she calls, grumpy now.

 

There’s no response. She can hear the shower running, and someone humming a song – a shanty? – and like, Mermista isn’t really in the mood to get up, so she turns on Google Maps to figure out where she is. As it turns out, she’s a couple blocks from the book store, which she guesses checks out.

 

It’s a nice room, though. Kind of cozy, and cramped, filled with books and trinkets and, like, a spy glass (Mermista decides she’s not going to ask) mounted on the wall. There’s a couple landscape paintings. At that moment, she realizes her book is on the nightstand, with a note attached.

 

He writes in all caps, because of course he does. Mermista sighs.

 

MERMISTA–

YOU FELL ASLEEP IN MY CAR, AND I – FEARING FOR MY LIFE – FOUND MYSELF IN A CONUNDRUM: I DON’T KNOW YOUR ADDRESS, AND I DID NOT WANT TO WAKE YOU. I HAVE PREPARED A MEAL IN CASE YOU ARE HUNGRY. PLEASE MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME.

SEA HAWK

 

“Mermista?”

 

She looks up, and there’s Sea Hawk, awkwardly watching her read his letter, and he’s –

 

Well, Sea Hawk’s not really wearing anything, except for a towel around his waist. Mermista sucks her breath in – listen, Sea Hawk isn’t, like, the most fashionable, or whatever, because she’s pretty sure he was wearing mismatched, neon pink and purple socks with sandals today, but like. He looks like that.

 

She tracks a bead of water going down his neck and measures her inhales to her exhales. “Uh,” she says eloquently. She’s probably got bedhead. Her mascara has definitely ended up clumped underneath her eyes. Her polo is scrunched up weirdly. “Hey,” she tries, but it sounds as awkward as she feels.

 

Sea Hawk nods understandably. Stupid Sea Hawk, on his stupid quest to convince her he’s not a criminal. She knows he’s not a criminal, okay, criminals don’t give you romance novels and don’t take you to their apartment when you fall asleep in their car and criminals don’t say, “Scorpia brought round a change of clothes for you, if you want to freshen up,” all pleasantly when you can’t form a sentence.

 

Mermista does, however, think that it is criminal Sea Hawk has yet to put a shirt on. His hair is all tousled. It looks messy and dumb and – well, she likes it, which is very upsetting. He starts walking toward her. She’s pretty sure there’s little droplets of water on his eyelashes. His stupidly long eyelashes.

 

And his ugly mustache. Don’t even get Mermista started on the ugly mustache that she’s kind of starting to like. Maybe. Sort of. Not really.

 

Mermista is really going to have a crisis over her taste. Sea Hawk is so lame and Mermista doesn’t, like, actually like him, okay, it’s just that –

 

“Yeah,” she says. “That’d be nice.”

 

Sea Hawk scratches the back of his neck. “I was gonna order a pizza. Do you want a slice?”

 

Mermista nods. “Yes. Thank you.” She is really not doing a good job of being aloof and cool here. To be fair, it is a very hard situation to be aloof and cool in.

 

“Do you, um, have a preference?”

 

“No,” she says.

 

“Right.” He shifts back and forward. “I’m going to, um, let you change, then.”

 

Mermista watches him toss some clothing at her, and then scamper out of his room, only to realize he’s in just a towel, and come back, and find a sweatshirt – bright red, with a piano keyboard stripe – and salmon shorts. “Sorry sorry sorry,” is all he says as he does this, and Mermista opens her mouth to tell him how, like, stupid he sounds, and finds she cannot.

 

Whatever. It doesn’t mean anything.

 

Scorpia’s clothes are a little big and kind of, like, goth? But she doesn’t mind – the black tank top is kind of boxy, but it looks intentionally so, because it’s cropped, while the ripped jeans seem just like mom jeans, or whatever. It goes with her unintentional smoky eye, so, like, whatever. She looks kind of hot, in a total wreck kind of way. Maybe Mermista should go goth, too.

 

She grabs her phone and then, after a moment, her book, and ambles out of Sea Hawk’s room – God, Mermista really, like, slept in Sea Hawk’s bed, she met the guy, like, two days ago – to find Sea Hawk watching her nervously, and then gulps super noticeably, whatever that means.

 

“Hey,” she says. “I’m just gonna read on your couch, if that’s okay. Figured you’d want your room back.”

 

“Uh,” he says, all, like, blushy and weird, presumably ‘cause Mermista just slept in his bed or whatever. “You look nice.”

 

“I don’t,” she responds casually. “Tell Scorpia I said thanks.”

 

“I will tell her thanks. From me. And from you. Yes. That is, ha ha, how communication works!” He walks out of the room very nervously and very fast. Mermista eyes him for a moment, and then decides she’s wasting time not reading and so she lets it go, and opens her book.

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to scorpia (7:32 pm): SCORPIA YOU HAVE SLAIN ME

scorpia (7:32 pm): did she wake up? all okay there?

sea hawk (7:33 pm): DO I THINK SHE’S BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE I MUST THINK THAT WAY, OR BECAUSE I AM SECRETLY YEARNING FOR A GOTH WOMAN

scorpia (7:33 pm): you do know im gay, buddy

sea hawk (7:34 pm): SHE SAYS THANK YOU FOR LETTING HER BORROW THE CLOTHES

scorpia (7:34 pm): oh!

scorpia (7:34 pm): ohhhhhh ;-)

 

 

 

 

 

google search: HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON SOMEONE

google search: WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN YOU WANT TO BUY SOMEONE A THOUSAND BOOKS AND WHEN YOU WANT TO HAVE LUNCH WITH HER ALL THE TIME AND WHEN YOU WOULD SET ANOTHER TRASH CAN ON FIRE FOR HER

google search: WHAT IF YOUR SOULMATE DOESN’T LIKE YOU BACK

 

 

 

 

 

They start having Wednesday lunch, and Mermista goes through books faster than they’d burn. Sea Hawk says this, like, kind of casually (?) a couple Wednesdays in, and then Mermista calls him an arsonist, and then he gets all offended about his honor, or whatever, and the next time she sees him, he has a gift for her, and like, Mermista isn’t trying to keep him around, okay, it’s just that she kind of likes his company, and, like, so long as he thinks she thinks he’s a criminal, he’s bound to stick around.

 

She has not told any of her friends any of this. It’s, like, so embarrassing.

 

But Sea Hawk is super nice, okay, and she likes being his friend. Which they are now, kind of, which is weird, but Mermista isn’t complaining. She likes reading and likes being able to tell Sea Hawk facts about marine biology and paleontology and that he listens to her. Not that Mermista really cares, it’s just–

 

It’s nice, okay?

 

Anyway. After the time she stayed at his apartment and in his bed or whatever, things have sort of shifted. They’re a bit friendlier now. Sometimes she even texts him. Sometimes, if he isn’t being, like, super annoying, Mermista cancels plans with her friends to hang out. They watch a lot of bad dinosaur movies.

 

Sea Hawk still does that weird blushing thing, and he’s taken to wearing a bracelet around his right wrist, effectively covering up his soulmate tattoo, but Mermista doesn’t really care. It’s not her business. She’s definitely not curious why. Anyways, his horrible outfits are getting blindingly worse with each passing week, and that’s much more distracting.

 

She knows Scorpia now, too, and sometimes they swap clothes, but Mermista never tells anyone they’re swapping clothes, because it’s embarrassing or whatever, but Scorpia lowkey looks super good in Mermista’s shirts, because they’re all cropped on her, and they’re friends now, too, and Mermista’s weirdly happy that she fits so neatly into Sea Hawk’s life, because she’s never actually happy, just, you know, bored and annoyed.

 

Sea Hawk annoys her, but, like, in a good way.

 

Mermista isn’t sure what she thinks about that.

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hawk is –

 

Conflicted. He tells Scorpia this in a roundabout way as they walk through the docks, as Sea Hawk is wont to do when he’s conflicted. By which he means, he gives her a very long hypothetical, complete with an ocean metaphor and precisely three literary references. Scorpia seems to get the gist. “Great romance isn’t for the sake of romance,” he tells her wisely, gazing out onto the water. “It isn’t like adventure in that way – great romance finds you.”

 

Scorpia hums pensively. She’s holding an ice cream cone, and some of it’s dripping down her prosthetic arm. “I don’t know,” she says. “I mean, the way you talk about her–”

 

“Am I doomed,” he says mournfully, “to doubt my feelings for her? To doubt her feelings for me?”

 

Scorpia sighs. “It’s alright, buddy,” she says. “You’ll get through this.”

 

“Thank you,” he responds, and watches the waves splash against the hulls of sailboats.

 

 

 

 

 

google search: DO I HAVE A CRUSH QUIZ

google search: DOES GOOGLING ‘DO I HAVE A CRUSH QUIZ’ MEAN I HAVE A CRUSH

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to mermista (3:14 pm): IM MAKING DINNER TONIGHT. YOU HAVE BEEN INVITED

mermista (3:14 pm): ugh why do you have to be so weird about it

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista doesn’t put, like, a lot of effort into her appearance, okay, but Sea Hawk does always have a reaction when she puts in a little bit of effort, and so she keeps, like, dressing up whenever she goes over to his house, and tonight is no exception. She has this really nice pair of white skinny jeans and a blue satin top, and so when she waits outside Sea Hawk’s door with a bottle of cheap wine, she’s smiling.

 

He opens the door suddenly, eyes wide and panicked, and then his gaze settles on Mermista, and he smiles, which, like, does a thing to Mermista’s stomach, and says, very matter of factly, “The fire alarm is going to go off any minute now,” and checks his watch, like he can predict it, and Mermista laughs, and then realizes he’s serious.

 

She blinks at him as the implication becomes clear. “You burned dinner,” she says dryly.

 

He nods. He doesn’t seem ashamed of this in the slightest.

 

“And you’re answering the door instead of dealing with the smoke.”

 

He nods again. Tendrils of smoke begin to come from the kitchen. Now that Mermista thinks of it, the whole apartment is smoky. She opens her mouth to say something, and–

 

The fire alarm starts blaring. She closes it. “Gosh darn it, we’ve got to stop meeting this way,” he shouts at her, and Mermista heaves an earth-shattering sigh.

 

“You deal with the fire alarm,” she shouts back, “and I’ll make you dinner.”

 

He seems to appreciate that, and disappears around a corner while Mermista puts down her stuff. She’s a little annoyed he didn’t compliment her outfit, but she, like, can barely think with the alarm going off. A few short moments later in which she’s plugging her ears and starting to regret coming over, the alarm stops, like Sea Hawk has practice turning the damn thing off, which is so Sea Hawk that she almost smiles, but doesn’t.

 

“Thank God,” she mutters, and makes her way to the kitchen to inspect what ingredients are there.

 

“I was trying to make pozole,” he says sheepishly as he rounds a corner and drapes himself across the counter. Mermista hates that it’s kind of cute.

 

Mermista rolls her eyes at him. “Get out, fire hazard,” she says, and then, because she feels bad, “I will feed you what I feed you.”

 

Sea Hawk backs out of the kitchen equally sheepishly. “Okay,” he says, and then Mermista is alone with some vegetables and the realization she’s making dinner in Sea Hawk’s kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

mermista to super awesome museum squad <3 <3 <3 (8:13 am): alright who changed the gc name

glimmer (8:13 am): bow

adora (8:13 am): bow

frosta (8:13 am): bow

bow (8:14): wow guys way to throw me under the bus

bow changed super awesome museum squad <3 <3 <3 to natural history museum interns

glimmer (8:14 am): whatever. is everyone going to be there today?

adora (8:14 am): yes! who is doing tours

glimmer (8:15 am): mermista in the morning and perfuma in the afternoon

mermista (8:15 am): ughh i always have to do mornings

adora (8:15 am): we can switch if you want. you can do gift shop

mermista (8:16 am): id literally rather die. plus i have to meet someone for lunch

mermista (8:17 am): is perfuma still asleep

glimmer (8:18 am): uhh probably

adora (8:18 am): definitely

frosta (8:18 am): for sure

bow (8:18 am): not a doubt in my mind. who’s the person ur meeting for lunch?

mermista (8:19 am): wtf you guys like, talk like a chorus

mermista (8:19 am): also no one. dont worry about it

 

 

 

 

 

“I just think,” says Mermista grumpily, “that, like, the actual noise the tyrannosaurus rex makes is actually scary. Plus, anyone who says that the actual feathered t-rex isn’t horrifying is wrong and lame.” She stabs her seaweed salad with a particular violence that takes Sea Hawk aback.

 

They’ve just seen the newest Jurassic Park. Mermista took her Wednesday afternoon off to go to watch it with him, and now they’re in a little café near the wharf, eating kale, watching people run in the sunshine, and talking about the movie. Sea Hawk has been listening to Mermista complain for over an hour. He doesn’t mind.

 

After a pause, they sit in silence, and Mermista pulls out the Jurassic Park book. Several pages are doggy-eared. “Look,” she says, pointing to a particular paragraph about halfway through, “look at how stupid this book is–”

 

And Sea Hawk? Sea Hawk’s struck by something when he suddenly looks at Mermista – really looks at her – in the glittering light, her back facing the blue ocean, eyebrows knitted in annoyance and eyes deep, dark brown, still talking about how they should really consult a real paleontologist, and thinks if he’d been looking a little harder, he wouldn’t have had to google anything.

 

 

 

 

 

bow to natural history museum interns (8:13 pm): heyyyy who’s in for a night out

perfuma (8:14 pm): ya lets do it!!!!!!

mermista (8:15 pm): i think im okay

perfuma (8:15 pm): come onnnn mermista u never go out w us anymore ))):

adora (8:15 pm): yeah mermista! it’ll be fun!

glimmer (8:15 pm): bow knows a really good place

bow (8:16 pm): if it’s too much, you don’t have to go

mermista (8:16 pm): ughhhh fine i’ll go

 

 

 

 

 

scorpia to sea hawk (8:18 pm): lets go celebrate you figuring out your feelings!

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to mermista (8:20 pm): DO YOU WANT TO GO OUT WITH SCORPIA AND I TONIGHT

mermista (8:21 pm): i think i’m gonna stay home sorry

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista decides that Bow’s taste is not her taste when she steps into onto the boat and is practically blinded by green flashing lights. “It’s a party boat,” Bow had told her excitedly, which Mermista now sees is a terrible idea, but she’s here, so maybe she’ll have one gin and tonic, and then go home, and, like, text Sea Hawk or something.

 

One drink becomes two becomes Adora orders them a round of shots and then gets weirdly, like, droopy, and Mermista and Glimmer take turns taking care of her because Adora is literally the biggest lightweight. At some point, Bow drags her off to dance with him, and Mermista does enjoy that, too, probably ‘cause she’s a little wasted.

 

Anyways. An actual good song comes on, and Mermista’s swinging her hips, and she has the best hips, okay, of all her friends, and Bow’s into it, too, and even Adora is trying to dance, even though she’s floppy and now been designated to only water for the rest of the night.

 

Basically, Mermista’s having a good time, until she’s not.

 

Of course – of course going out bites Mermista in the ass, because who gets onto the boat if not the familiar white-haired woman but Scorpia, Sea Hawk in tow. And of course, Adora and Catra perk up, and go, “Scorpia!” and so before Mermista can run into a bathroom and disappear, Scorpia sees Mermista, and Mermista sees Sea Hawk, and Sea Hawk has literally the worst look on his face.

 

It’s not like Mermista killed a puppy, okay, she just decided to go drinking with her friends.

 

“Mermista!” shouts Scorpia.

 

“Oh my God,” says Adora, who is still so drunk, “you guys know Mermista? I love Mermista. How do you know Mermista?”

 

“If you say my name one more time,” grits out Mermista, “I will literally leave.”

 

“Don’t leave,” says Catra.

 

Mermista looks at Sea Hawk, who’s still looking at her.

 

“Mermista!” sings Adora.

 

Mermista makes a break for it.

 

She turns and quickly makes her way to the bathroom, where she spots Glimmer, and shoves her way in. “This is literally the worst day of my life,” says Mermista, head in hands, and Glimmer peers at her kind of nervously, which Mermista would normally be mad about, but she’s, like, a trainwreck right now, so Glimmer’s kind of right.

 

Mermista leans too close to a sink, and the water rushes on, because of course it’s automatic, and she jumps back, surprised, which is lame, and then sighs deeply and annoyedly in the direction of the sink. “See what I mean,” she says to Glimmer, motioning at the sink.

 

Glimmer opens her mouth, then closes it. “Um,” she says. “Should I get Bow?”

 

“Yeah,” says Mermista forlornly. “Please get Bow.”

 

A couple minutes later, Bow raps on the bathroom door. “I, um, can’t come in there, ‘cause it’s a women’s bathroom,” he starts, and Mermista sighs as loudly as she can at him, and so he quickly adds, “but there’s a one-stall bathroom just down the hall.”

 

“Fine,” she says.

 

They move quickly to the one-stall bathroom, and Mermista puts her head in her hands again. Bow waits patiently for her to talk. “So you remember the guy who–” she stops herself, because this is literally so humiliating, and frowns. “So I know the guy Scorpia brought, and I kind of told him I was staying home tonight, and, like, I know that’s not so bad, but–”

 

“You’re embarrassed of introducing him to us, and you think he knows that?” guesses Bow.

 

Mermista nods. “Yeah, that.” She presses her lips into a thin line. “But it’s whatever.”

 

“It’s not whatever, Mermista, you’re literally hiding in a bathroom.”

 

“I’m conflict averse,” she says, waving a hand dismissively. “It’s one of my quirks.”

 

“Mermista–”

 

“God, will people, like, stop saying my name?” It comes out louder than she means it to. She winces.

 

Bow sits down beside her, and wraps an arm around her, and, like, Mermista’s not a particularly nice person all the time, so she’s not sure what she did to deserve this kind of treatment, but she’s, like, really, really thankful for Bow. She rests her head on his shoulder and sighs again.

 

“I think you should talk to him,” says Bow gently. “You clearly care about him.”

 

“It’s – complicated,” says Mermista.

 

“Relationships often are.”



“No, I mean – we’re just friends, but the whole situation is, like–”

 

“Complicated, yes.” Bow doesn’t mention the just friends thing, but Mermista can tell he doesn’t believe her. “Is he a nice guy?”

 

Mermista groans and buries her head into her arms again. “The nicest,” she complains, muffled by the mouth against her knees. “I literally don’t understand why he sticks around. Well, I do, but like, why does he care so much whether or not I think he’s a criminal? Like, I’m me.”

 

Bow makes a noise of confusion, but doesn’t press it. Mermista rubs at her temples. “I do like him, don’t I? Like, like him, like him.”

 

“Yeah,” says Bow softly. “Sounds like it.”

 

“Ugh,” she says. “I should talk to him.”

 

Bow smiles. “That’s my girl!” he says, and Mermista gives him such an acerbic look in response that his smile slides off his face.

 

She gets up and leaves the bathroom. She returns to the space where she originally saw Sea Hawk, trying to look through the throng of people dancing in the dim lighting. She finds Scorpia pretty quickly, though, – Scorpia’s tall, and has literally cleared a space for her on the dance floor. It’s actually very easy for Mermista to come up to her, cup her hands around her mouth, and shout, “Where’s Sea Hawk?”

 

Scorpia looks at her with narrowed eyes. “What?”

 

“Where’s,” shouts Mermista louder, “Sea Hawk!”

 

“Oh!” bellows Scorpia, “Sea Hawk. He left!”

 

“Fuck,” bellows Mermista back, and turns around to grab her bag.

 

 

 

 

 

mermista to sea hawk (11:49 pm): where are you?

 

 

 

 

 

She calls him in the taxi. “Hello, adventurer! This is Sea Hawk! Leave a message at the beep!”

 

“Sea Hawk. It’s Mermista. Call me back.”

 

The messages get more and more curt. He always picks up the phone. Mermista frowns. She didn’t do anything that bad, did she? Like, okay, she didn’t tell him she was going out tonight, but she, like, regularly cancels plans for him. He literally sees her text her friends that she’s busy when she’s at his place. So what’s the big deal? Why is Sea Hawk being so weird?

 

“Here?” says the cab driver dubiously.

 

Mermista looks up from her phone to see Sea Hawk’s apartment building. “Yeah,” she says, and ignores the pitying look from the cab driver. Whatever, she thinks. Everyone has relationship problems. She doesn’t need judgement from the guy driving her to her – to her – to Sea Hawk’s apartment. “Thanks,” she says, and walks to the building.

 

She knows the code by now, but that feels kind of invasive, so she presses the apartment number and lets it ring instead. It rings for just long enough that she thinks she’s missed him, and then, “Hello?” says a sleepy voice on the other end, and Mermista’s stomach actually turns, which is like, when did she start caring about an accidental criminal?

 

“It’s Mermista,” she says.

 

“Oh,” says Sea Hawk.

 

“Can I, um, come up?”

 

He’s silent, but the door buzzes open. “Okay…” she says, and makes her way upstairs.

 

He looks – he looks like Sea Hawk, except his hair is slicked back, and his shirt is unbuttoned slightly, and Mermista’s first instinct is to tell him to button it, and her second is to try and remember how, exactly, breathing works. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was going out tonight,” she blurts, and Sea Hawk looks actually miserable when she says it.

 

“It’s not–” He stops, swallows. “Mermista. Do you want a glass of wine?”

 

Mermista shakes her head. “Just water.”

 

“Right, okay,” he says, heading to the kitchen and pouring himself a generous glass of white wine. Mermista watches, concerned. “You look beautiful, of course,” he adds.

 

Mermista blushes, and then shrugs. She takes her water wordlessly. “Sea Hawk,” she says, and frowns. “I know I’m not, like, the most open person, right,” she waits for him to smile softly in agreement, “but I haven’t been exactly honest, either.” She looks down here, but he’s silent, waiting, and so she looks back up, and to her surprise he’s–

 

He’s smiling. “You knew?” he says, and he looks a little breathless. “About us–” he motions to his wrist, which Mermista sees is uncovered, the handwriting being so familiar, until it begins to dawn on her, and she looks up to him in surprise as he completes his question, “–being soulmates?”

 

“ – what?” She shakes her head. “I was going to say I didn’t think you were, like, a criminal, not–”

 

Sea Hawk opens his mouth. Closes it. Opens it again. “Oh.”

 

“I thought the only reason you hung out with me was because you wanted to prove yourself,” she groans, and then she frowns, because she’s annoyed, because how could he keep them from her? “And, like, you’re mad at me when you were literally withholding that we’re–”

 

“Soulmates?” finishes Sea Hawk. He looks miserable. “You ran from me in public! Your soul mate! What does that say about our relationship–”

 

Mermista puts her head down on the table and lets out a low, frustrated noise. “Ugh, I’m sorry that it’s a little difficult to explain who you are to my friends, okay, but I literally came here apologize and promise to introduce you to them, but whatever. You can’t just lie to me and expect it to be okay, Sea Hawk,” she says bitterly.

 

He opens his mouth to say something.

 

A wave of exhaustion washes over her. “You know what? I’m just going to go home. This is – it’s all – it’s whatever. I’m over it.” She gets up and stalks towards the front of the apartment.

 

“Mermista, no, I’m sorry–”

 

She puts her hand up to silence him. “Whatever, Solomon,” she says bitingly, and opens the door.

 

The moment she closes it, she starts to cry.

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to mermista (3:02 am): MERMISTA PLEASE CAN WE TALK [message unable to send]

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Hawk takes a week off from the book store in the name of healing and adventure and offers to go on a fishing ship with a sea captain. He’s grateful for it – the wind in his face, the long, quiet moments waiting for fish to bite, and the physical labor, which all clear his mind and force him to stop thinking about–

 

“She’s the most beautiful woman in the world,” he tells his shipmate once.

 

His shipmate shrugs. “Sounds rough, mate,” he responds.


The week is like that: where Mermista found him charming – and embarrassing, Sea Hawk can’t bring himself to forget this – his crew finds him tiring. Sea Hawk stifles his shanties and gets back to work, loading fish onto the boat and tossing nets overboard. He misses Scorpia. He misses his books. He misses–

 

He doesn’t want to think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

sea hawk to mermista (12:57 am): I MISS YOU [message unable to send]

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista stumbles through three tours, literally forgets the name of the Triassic period in one of them, and doesn’t stop drinking coffee until Bow pulls her aside and asks in a, like, overly nice way about how she’s doing. Adora and Glimmer are there, too, with matching looks of concern. Mermista sighs.

 

“We’re fighting,” she says. We’re soulmates.

 

“I know,” says Bow. “We don’t have to talk about it. Do you want to eat ice cream and watch bad movies instead?”

 

Where Mermista had been ready to go on the defensive – she does not want to talk, or even think about Sea Hawk – she suddenly relaxes. She exhales and looks at the three of them gratefully. “God, yes. Do you like Jurassic Park?”

 

(Bow’s a little offended by her classification of a ‘bad movie’, but Mermista has an excuse, okay, and maybe it makes her miss Sea Hawk a little more, but whatever. Mermista’s over him. Over the whole thing. Her parents weren’t soulmates. She doesn’t need Sea Hawk in her life. Mermista is fine. She’s totally, one hundred percent fine.

 

She still cries halfway through the movie, though).

 

 

 

 

 

google search: is it normal to be embarrassed of your soulmate

google search: do i have a crush

 

 

 

 

 

“You know,” says one of his shipmates when the week has ended and Sea Hawk realizes he has to go back to his lonely, miserable life, “it sounds like you really love that girl.”

 

Sea Hawk blinks, but she’s turned her back to him and is packing up her stuff. You really love that girl.

 

Yeah, actually. He does.

 

 

 

 

 

scorpia to sea hawk (3:53 pm): all okay?

sea hawk (3:54 pm): I HAVE AN IDEA

 

 

 

 

 

Mermista is about to take a nap when she hears it. “It” being an obnoxiously loud fiddle and something else which sounds like her name, and she finds herself drawn to the window before she can help herself. She’s not surprised, though, by what she finds: Sea Hawk smiling up at her, bow arcing gracefully over his fiddle.

 

He’s in a sunny patch, in between the shade of the trees, so she has a perfect view of him. Of course his outfit is blindingly highlighter yellow, so it’s not like Mermista could miss him, anyway, and her heart pangs a little too painfully. She presses her lips close together and wills her eyes not to water.

 

“WHO… IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN I’VE SEEN…” he croons up at her, the tune more pirate-y than Mermista’s expecting, “IT’S MERMISTA.”

 

Mermista rolls her eyes. That’s, like, all he has to say? She thinks she’s seen enough, and so she moves back to shut the blinds.

 

“WHO… DESERVES AN APOLOGY AND AN EXPLANATION…” he sings rapidly, and she pauses midstep. “IT’S MERMISTA.”

 

“Ugh,” she calls down at him, smile beginning to play across her face as she says it, “you are so lame.”

 

“I know,” he calls back, changing key. “WHO… DO I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF ETERNITY TALKING ABOUT FOSSILS AND MARINE BIOLOGY AND ROMANCE NOVELS–” he takes a gulp of air, twirls his mustache, and Mermista can’t help it, she’s grinning now, “–IT’S MERMISTA!”

 

“Alright, alright,” she says, laughing, “come up, weirdo.”

 

He beams at her and puts his accursed fiddle down.

 

 

 

 

 

“How did you even, like, find my apartment?” she asks, and he shurgs.

 

“I asked Scorpia, who asked Catra, who asked…”

 

“Right.” She gives him an unimpressed look, reminiscent of the look she gave him when they first met. Sea Hawk can’t help it – he swoons. “Why did you come?”

 

He fiddles in his chair a moment, playing with his cuffed neon yellow sleeve. His bandana around his forehead matches it. “I…” he pauses. “I should have told you, and I am deeply regretful I didn’t. I just wanted–” he screws up his mouth for a moment “–a romance, an adventure, on our own terms, not in regards to–” he motions at his wrist.

 

“Oh,” says Mermista, quiet.

 

He watches her, trying to gage her reaction.

 

“Do you even like me?”

 

He blinks at her. “ What? Mermista, I – you have become my everything. I sit down, I compose a mental sonnet to you. I hear you speak, I am enamored. I think you were it for me from the moment we met, I just – it took me some time to realize,” he says softly. “And for that, I can understand if you never forgive me.”

 

She smiles. “Oh,” she says again, and then sighs. “Give me some time, Sea Hawk,” she murmurs, and he looks at her, and the door, and at his fiddle, crestfallen.

 

“I suppose I owe that to you,” he says, but she feels no better once he’s left.

 

 

 

 

 

perfuma to mermista is going to blow a fuse if she has to take perfuma’s shift (10:13 am): sorry guys! i overslept!

mermista (10:14 am): you always oversleep

bow changed the name to perfuma wake up squad

perfuma (10:14 am): way harsh, merms

glimmer (10:15 am): i feel scarred reading that

adora (10:16 am): that was an affront to my eyes perfuma

perfuma (10:16 am): im on a quest, okay! its important for our friendship that i find a nickname for everyone

mermista (10:16 am): literally no one’s name is nickname-able in this group chat

mermista (10:16 am): except catra

mermista (10:17 am): because it’s like an actual nickname

catra (10:17 am): shorten catra and i kill you

 

 

 

 

 

bow to mermista (10:18 am): you’re particularly grumpy today are you ok??

mermista (10:18 am): mermista is calling you.

 

 

 

 

 

He picks up the phone on the second ring. Mermista tucks her legs underneath her and looks sourly at her green tea. “Hello?” he says, and she grunts in response. “Oh. Are you two still–”

 

Mermista looks out the window and takes in a long breath. “I’m mad at him,” she says finally. “I mean, I know it’s, like, I’m not the perfect girlfriend, or whatever, and I didn’t even realize that I liked him, if you know what I mean, but, like, I do, I guess, but he didn’t even tell me we’re–” She exhales and pinches her nose with her free hand. “We’re soulmates.”

 

“Oh,” says Bow quietly. “He knew and you…?”

 

“Sea Hawk’s a nickname.”

 

“Right, right, okay, I understand.”

 

“I don’t even know why I care!”

 

Bow huffs on the other end. Mermista looks gloomily at the view, where Sea Hawk had literally serenaded her and she’d turned him down. “Of course you care, Mermista,” he says placatingly. “You hid in the bathroom from this guy. You told me you liked him, and you’d rather die than say you actually care for anyone.” Mermista makes a noise of indignation. “You don’t like it, anyhow,” he revises.

 

“But I’m angry.”

 

“Right,” says Bow. “But you’re also punishing yourself.”

 

Mermista thinks about Sea Hawk, about his stupid handlebar mustache and charming smile, about the way he took her home once to let her sleep, about the way he gave her all those books and she didn’t even have to pay him (except for the first one), about how he listens to her, about how he makes her feel, about–

 

God. Mermista’s soulmate is a loser.

 

She loves it.

 

“Hang on, Bow,” she says softly. “I have to call my dad.”

 

 

 

 

 

mermista to perfuma wake up squad (5:48 pm): ok this is lame but, like. do you guys want to meet my soulmate

glimmer (5:48 pm): yes

adora (5:48 pm): yes!!!

frosta (5:49 pm): ya

bow (5:49 pm): YES!!!

 

 

 

 

 

mermista to scorpia (6:01 pm): can u tell sea hawk to be ready for going out but not tell him why

scorpia (6:01 pm): you guys are making up? that’s great!!

scorpia (6:01 pm): i’ll see what i can do!

 

 

 

 

 

scorpia to sea hawk (6:03 pm): nine pm. be ready. sad sea hawk begone!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a knock at his door at nine, just like Scorpia promised. Sea Hawk moans against the counter, but because he loves Scorpia – and because Sea Hawk’s a gentleman – he goes and gets the door. He’s dressed to go out, at least, like he’s promised, in pink cargo pants and an orange hoodie.

 

He opens the door and gasps. It’s not Scorpia. It Mermista, looking sheepish and wonderful and – and she’s holding out a blindfold. “Hey, loser,” she says affectionately. “I know I’m, like, the worst, all the time, but – I missed you and I–” She fiddles. “Ugh, I hate speeches. Can I just kiss you and put on the blindfold afterwards? I, um, have a surprise.”

 

“Yeah,” says Sea Hawk giddily. “Yeah, that sounds good.”

 

It’s chaste, over too quickly, soft – but Sea Hawk is buzzing now, alive and alight with warmth, with the thought of Mermista–

 

“Hurry up,” she says, and he snorts.

 

 

 

 

 

His vision comes into focus as she unties the blindfold and takes it off him gently. They’re in the wharf, but he knew that – it smells like sea salt and he can hear the gulls in the distance. There’s a houseboat in front of him, painted green with little red accents. The Dragon’s Daughter, it reads on the side in gold lettering.

 

He narrows his eyes. There are at least three other houseboats within his line of sight. “It’s a boat,” he says, confused.

 

“My, um, my dad manufactures them,” Mermista explains behind him, and he peels his eyes from the boat to her. Sea Hawk thinks, then, as he watches her gaze out onto the boat, that Mermista is the most beautiful person he’s ever met. “You said you wanted to go sailing? Like, after your senior year?” He nods. She bites her lip. “Wait an extra year, and I suppose I’ll go with you. But, like,” she quickly adds, “you don’t have to. I mean, the boat’s yours. ‘Cause obviously, to go sailing, you need a boat, and Scorpia said you didn’t have one, and, like–”

 

“It’s a boat,” he interrupts, not really listening to her. “You’re giving me a – boat?”

 

He looks at her for a long moment. The lamplight catches her blue hair and makes it glow. She shifts awkwardly. She’s still not looking him in the eye. “Is that okay?”

 

He pulls her in close. “Mermista,” he says, very seriously. “That’s more than okay. It’s spectacular. Brilliant. Superb. Splendid–”

 

“Whatever, whatever.” She’s blushing. Sea Hawk decides he wants to spend the rest of his life making her blush and smile like that. She – finally, finally – looks over at him with an embarrassed smile, and puts her hands on his shoulders and his own palms find their way to her waist. Sea Hawk’s eyes flit down to her lips. “Just don’t set it on fire,” she says.

 

“No promises,” he responds, looking at her gold eyeliner and soft, surprised expression, and suddenly overcome by how lovely she is, by how perfect this moment is, he sweeps her into a good, proper kiss that she melts into, moving her hands to clutch at his cheeks. His heart stutters, and his last coherent thought before she deepens it is that as far as romances go, this is rapidly becoming his favorite one.