Michael stood outside Mallory’s apartment waiting for her to come out, even though for a year, he watched her and yearned for her from afar, it was not the same as seeing her up close. Feeling her warmth for the first time in a long time has filled an empty space in his heart, he had missed her smile, her brown eyes, her soft hair, her laughter, her everything.
Last night he had kissed her, she responded in kind before she ran from him, he understood that Mallory will not remember him as part of the deal, but it still hurts that she ran. But the way she had kissed him back tells him that her heart and body still remembers him, only the mind has forgotten. Michael brought her presents, some pearls from sea shells and flowers, much like he did before.
As soon as Mallory stepped out of her apartment, Michael ran to her from across the street and stopped right in front of her, it startled her a bit, but he thought it was adorable. With a wide smile on his face, he immediately held out his gifts for her. Mallory’s cheeks reddened as she looked at the items in front of her, he was happy that he can still elicit such reactions from her. However, she only stared at the item he was holding out, so again, he took the initiative and grabbed her hands and placed the gift in them.
When Mallory realized what Michael had done, she quickly shook her head and tried to give them back to him. “No, I can’t accept them,'' Mallory said.
Michael only tilted his head, he didn't understand why she would refuse, the thing is, in the island, she had never refused his gifts, except for those that had hurt him like that jellyfish. Since he is unable to talk, he held onto her hands to close them around his gifts and tapped his chest then pointed at her. Not being able to talk to express your feelings is quite hard, there was also the problem with the deal he made with his father, he cannot write his feelings for her, not that he is incapable of it, Mallory had taught him as much as she could after all, it's just that, it is not allowed, when he tried to write them on a piece of parchment last night, it disappeared as quickly as he wrote it. Now he is holding on to some hope that his message will be understood.
Mallory only looked at him, puzzled at the gesture he made, eventually she reluctantly accepted the gifts. When she thanked him for the gifts, he smiled so widely again, she rather liked his smile, he looked quite angelic. Michael then tugged at the sleeve of her dress and excitedly pointed at the direction of the beach, she figured that he wanted her to come along with him. Well, it was already time for her daily walk so she accepted the invitation, but first, she left his gifts back in her room, it was quite awkward holding them.
As the two walked side by side, Michael only kept smiling his wide smile and Mallory thought about her dream last night, was it really a dream though, it somehow felt real, she can’t even remember how she got back home, the thought had her fingertips unconsciously touching her lips.
Micheal suddenly stopped in his tracks, turned, and stood right in front of Mallory, she was so lost is her thoughts that she didn't notice it and she bumped right into him, he quickly grabbed her shoulders to steady her when it was apparent that she was going to lose her balance. Mallory quickly apologized, but Michael grabbed the hand that touched her lips and place it upon his own. When Mallory took in Michael expression, the smile is still there but his blue eyes were smoldering intently at her that it felt like she was melting on the spot, in fact, her legs seems to want to give out on her, if it wasn't for Michael's hand on her shoulder, she would have. The look he gave her was familiar and it stirred something in her, particularly down below, she rather not want to think about that. She quickly pulled away as if she was scalded, her face was all red, and her heart beat wildly in her chest.
When Mallory pulled away from Michael, he tried to reach her hand again but decided against it, he was moving too fast again, she might run away again like last night, however, he is in a dilemma, it took him many moons for her to accept him as his mate, but his 3 days are almost up and she has yet to choose him again. If he fails, he can never see her again, that is something that he would rather not happen.
Michael looked down at his feet looking defeated, he hoped that this would convey how sorry he is that he has flustered Mallory again, somehow though, it worked as she tapped his shoulder and told him that it was ok and asked him if he was going to bring her somewhere. Mallory has started to become intuitive of Michael’s actions and gestures, he does have such expressive face and his blue eyes conveys a lot. While they walk to their destination, Michael would often make them stop if he sees something that looked interesting, he would tap her shoulder then point at the thing that had caught his attention, he always beams like a kid whenever Mallory talks, everything seemed familiar, like this has happened to her before, the smile he wore was curious, it was genuinely happy but somehow would also seem like it is sad at times.
Mallory somehow knew where he was going, she’s been in that path before, but she cannot recall why she did.
Michael led her to a seaside cave that she sometimes visits, its a remote place she chose in the case that he would finally catch up to her. Inside, there is a water stream, small fish and other sea animals would use it as a passageway, some lives there, Michael himself is unable to do that as he was too big for the underground channels, but it was enough for him to enter the cave itself. He knew of this place due to her leaving notes and items in there hoping he would see it, hoping he would come back to her. He does, he always see what she does, what she left behind, but has never touched or taken them, all this time he had convinced himself that she was better off without him, but he was just fooling himself and shattering his own heart. He does hope that by seeing this place again, she would somehow remember him and choose him again.
Michael pulled Mallory into the cave, then he crouched low and pointed in the water, Mallory leaned and saw little fishes swimming in the stream going through the cave, she even saw a fish that glows, the had put a smile on her face. However, Mallory looked carefully at her surroundings, she really did know this place, she has been here before, several times. She was waiting for someone, but she can’t remember who. Somehow, the place had made her dizzy, she held onto the cave walls to steady herself, Michael was quick to stand from his spot to help her.
Mallory looked into Michael’s worried eyes, she adored them, she loved them, she had once given a kiss to those lashes, to the tip of his nose, to his soft lips, yes they were soft and they were cold, not an uncomfortable cold, but the good kind. She held on tighter on her head, it felt like it was going to explode, it hurts so much.
Michael was so worried that his eyes started to water, he didn't want her to be like this, he just wanted to be with her forever, not in this kind of pain. Mallory reached up to his face and wiped the tear that fell from his eyes, he held on to her hand and pressed it in place on his cheeks until she lost consciousness, but before that, she whispered “Michael, you came back to me”. Michael kept Mallory in his arms.
The water from the stream suddenly rose and Michael quickly lifted Mallory into his arms and tried to run out of the cave, however, the water rose up and covered the entrance. The water on his feet was suddenly heavy like chains and held onto his legs and stopped him from his tracks, the cave quickly filled up with water except for the spot he was standing on.
“Father”, Michael said but he was startled a bit as he hears own voice again.
An old mer-folk rose from the water holding onto a golden trident, he had a crown on his graying hair that looked like horns, they were made from the tusks of Narwhals and Walruses, the base of the crown is covered with black pearls, his tail was black as the moonless sky. “My boy”, he responded.
“What have you done father”, Michael almost growled at the older mer-folk.
"I have done nothing, I'm merely here to say goodbye to my child".
Michael looked skeptically at his father, "Just like that, you won't persuade me back?" he asked.
"Yes, just like that, a bet is a bet, your brother Devan was more than happy to take your place as my heir.''
Michael pondered, how was it so easy, it was odd, but then he taught carefully, Devan was the one who persuaded him to make a bet with their father, to earn legs to be with Mallory.
"Father, Devan..", Michael started but his father intervened, "I know very well what Devan is capable off and what he has done, do you really not think I would not find out about it, he was so determined to support your cause".
"I do not need an heir that doesn't want my throne, that longs for a future that cannot be, an heir that chose a human as a mate,'' the older mer-folk said the last words with an obvious distaste, then he continued. "Are you not happy that I am letting you have what you want?".
Michael didn't know how he could respond to his father.
"Your legs will now be permanent and you are no longer allowed to return to the sea." His father declared, then the water from the cave recedes. "I wish you happiness my son," Michael's father said before he left him and Mallory alone.
Mallory wakes from her unconsciousness with Michael leaning over her frame. He pressed his forehead against hers as relief flooded his being.
"I've been waiting for you", Mallory whispered.
"I know", Michael responded, then he pressed his lips against hers.