Heard you were thirsty for some merman art ovo Check out this merman Ichi by Maca Montze!
The murmur of voices and tipsy yet polite laughter floated above a demure and well-practiced quartet in the corner of the hall. A slow-paced and inoffensive song filled the room and made Grimmjow’s blood burn with the desire to break something. The first thing to go would be the delicate flute in his hand, the champagne swilled rather than savored, so now he carried it around as an expensive souvenir.
Idly spinning the glass between his fingers, Grimmjow longed for the weight of a gun or a knife, anything that wasn’t this fancy ass delicate shit. He had his sword at his side, but mostly for decorum; every man present had one, and he knew from experience that those fancy dresses did more than push up their breasts, sometimes there was nasty shit hidden under all that embroidery.
His scowl was enough to deter most from speaking to him, despite his rakish good looks––he knew damn well he was a looker. His duster and high boots, however nice, were testament to a lower class, and that only left the bravest and most contrarian of the group to try to speak to him.
Those that gossiped were left to wonder and assume how he’d ended up there at all. Pink hair was all the rage among young girls, his hair color was nothing shocking, but the style and his build steered most toward the conclusion he was a soldier. Close, but no dice.
Something cut through the shimmer of wealth, something that didn’t belong, something that raised the hair on the back of his neck.
So deep, and so subtle, at first he didn’t realize what it was. The partygoers didn’t seem to notice, and if they did, they didn’t care.
In all reality, he should have ignored the humming entirely; he was there to work, not get sidetracked, but his instincts pressured him to be alert. For what? He saw no threat, but he felt it in his bones as sure as a storm.
The natural lull and flow of the crowd put him directly in front of the fish tank that took up the entire far wall. It was as tall as the room, at least three stories, full of swaying kelp, small sharks and schools of colorful fish. The scene was fairly dark with the low light of the party. A romantic setting, probably, if the blushing and giggling girls were anything to judge it by. The water cast rippling beams of light and shadow over the sharks swimming loops in the enclosure, but he couldn’t see the back of it; it was clearly meant to be lit from the sun, not a room full of candlelight.
The oceanic scene displayed within was nothing like her mother, raw and savage. This was poor mimicry at best, tame and romanticized and pretty.
It was an expensive looking aquarium, but Grimmjow came here expecting to see a disgusting overuse of wealth when he strolled through the door. The gold leaf on the crown molding was a dead giveaway; this man had been filthy rich.
Grimmjow wasn’t here for his possessions, and he wasn’t interested in some fat-cat’s eccentric desire to show off some fish. He was here for the hum.
The sound was stronger by the smooth glass of the tank, so he thought it was reasonable to assume this was the source. His eyes lingered on dark water, searching for a disruption in patterns, anything to give up what was inside. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but it wasn’t the leopard sharks or grouper. Something in there was dangerous.
Now that Grimmjow was paying attention, he could see long trenches carved in the glass. They were reflected by the candlelight inside the tank, the outside was spotless. That got Grimmjow’s attention. What the fuck did he have in there with claws ?
Something moved against the current, his eyes catching a hitch in the sway of kelp. Light glinted off of something that seemed almost metallic, golden even, then drifted back into shadow. Pacing along the front of the tank, Grimmjow dragged his fingers over the glass, leaning in, trying to get a better angle. A dim glow flickered near the back of the tank, obscured by dancing shadows and kelp; a raw, bio form of aether. Something was alive in there, and it could use aether .
“It came with the estate.”
Grimmjow flinched and made a point to turn slowly to make up for it. He was so focused on what was in the tank, he almost forgot about what was outside of it.
Aizen stood beside him, hair slicked back in a simple yet blindingly expensive white suit. He held a short glass in hand, something murky and green and wholly unappetizing to look at. Aizen reached out with a free hand and plucked the champagne glass from Grimmjow’s hand. “Be kind to the dishware, please, that’s one of a kind.”
Grimmjow relinquished his deathgrip on the crystal and Aizen set it on the tray of a passing server. Grimmjow glanced back into the tank, the metallic shimmer gone, then shot Aizen a questioning look. “What is it?”
“Our dearly departed friend Yamamoto recovered something from his deep sea mining efforts. Seems he used it for decoration.”
Grimmjow caught a flurry of motion out of the corner of his eye, skipping back at the sudden thud against the glass. Sluggish swirls of fire filled his vision. It took him a moment to make sense of what he was seeing, his eyes wide in shock.
“It isn’t fond of humans,” Aizen spoke flatly.
Golden hair floated ethereal in the water like flames, and Grimmjow’s eyes locked on piercing yellow, shocking against black sclera . The silhouette it cut seemed human enough at first glance, but tiny details caught Grimmjow’s attention and led him astray from that conclusion.
Stripes slashed across a very human face, drawing vicious lines down its neck and across its chest and torso, all the way down a slender, flexible, red and black tail. It had dangerous looking fins, especially the one on its back. It fanned wide like a startled cat, deadly looking black spines glinting in the candlelight . Its tail reminded him of sharks and whales alike, fluid sweeps of it brushing water aside with a speed that spoke of very real strength.
Its skin glittered like it had been dusted with gold, from the tan skin of it's chest to the base of its fins, black stripes flowing off its face along its body .
Whatever it was, Grimmjow struggled to discern a gender. It was beautiful, and it hadn't stopped trying to kill him. Razor teeth were bared in aggression, and even with a foot of glass between him and this creature, the screech of blackened talons was distinctly audible, as much as the increased hum, basso enough to make his eyes vibrate.
Aizen continued, tone conversational despite the rage from the creature on the other side. “Especially those gifted with aether.”
“What is it?” Grimmjow asked.
Aizen chuckled, a quietly condescending sound, and paced in front of the aquarium. The man watched in amusement as the creature followed him from behind the glass with a powerful flick of its tail. “Pretty, isn’t it? Surely you’ve heard of mermaids? This,” Aizen gestured, “Must logically be a merman.”
Grimmjow wondered if he was being talked down to. Everyone heard of mermaids, sirens and the like, but most assumed they were stories.
The merman grew bored of Aizen and twisted to drift over to Grimmjow, fins flaring to slow himself. The glass and reflections and darkness disrupted his view, but this close and this still, Grimmjow noticed a collar. “What’s that?”
Aizen looked, but his attention was already elsewhere. “You’ll have to ask his keepers, I’ve been too occupied to get a briefing on the furniture.”
Grimmjow thought the merman heard and understood perfectly well, because its tail streaked with red aether and it rammed the glass, teeth bared in a silent snarl. This merperson was clearly intelligent, it knew there was no hope of breaking its enclosure, but hate and frustration seemed motivation enough to try.
Grimmjow noticed he wasn’t the only one to take notice, a small crowd had gathered near the tank, and Aizen had retreated to the other side of the room. People tapped and outright hammered on the glass to get the merman’s attention.
Fins flared in aggression, the merman shot his onlookers a hate filled glare, and instead of attacking the glass, a lazy flick of his tail sent him back into the shadows at the far end of the tank. Grimmjow was struck with sudden pity, his guts clenching in distaste. The onlookers were just drunk enough to not be deterred, their attention locked on the shadowy corner of the aquarium.
This was just a box, a prison. It was wrong.
So Grimmjow looked at something else. If it was unpleasant, he ignored it, like everything else in his life.
Eventually, once it became clear the merman wasn’t interested in being a sideshow attraction, the crowd filtered away, but Grimmjow stayed close to the tank, frowning into the dark. Eventually, the party ended and Grimmjow was allowed to leave.
The first thing he did was head outside for a cigarette, lighting one up in a dark shadow on the house, someplace no one would bother him or ask questions. It was chilly, the moon high overhead, lighting the dew-soaked, manicured law.
He let out a slow exhale, his head falling back against the house. He watched the smoke spiral above his nose and whisper out, and his thoughts circled back to the creature in the tank. Funny that something that existed underwater could have so much fire.
High society was dull. He was finally at the top, but now what? Bubbly drinks and fine music and polished floors? He wrinkled his nose in disgust and threw down his cigarette, crushing it under his boot. He had someplace he’d rather be.
He circled around the side of the house, boots squelching in the grass until he found the tank. It was dark save for the glow of a waxing moon and a light from within the house some yards away. There was a mechanical hum and an extra partition built onto the house that seemed out of place. He could smell the brine of salt and hear water lapping the sides of the tank.
There was a flight of metal stairs lining the far wall to a deck partitioned off by a railing. After a cursory glance around to be sure he was alone, Grimmjow took the stairs, his boots rattling the metal in a way he thought might warrant investigation, but no one came.
At the top of the stairs he saw a complex piping system clinging to the side of the tank, butting up against thick metal bars criss crossing the surface of the water. His arm could easily fit through one, but it seemed clear this was added secondary to the main structure to keep something in, since the bolts and latches were far less rusted over than the rest.
Staring down into black water, Grimmjow saw nothing, but he felt the creeping sensation he was being watched. Sinking to a cautious crouch by the edge, Grimmjow did something stupid.
He leaned over the water and reached out through the bars. He lowered his hand until it was hovering just above the surface, disturbed ripples lapping at his palm. The water was as cold as he expected ocean water to be. Icy and unwelcoming. He shifted, boots squeaking on metal grating, and let his hand sink below the surface.
The chill spread up his arm as he reached deeper into a world he didn’t belong in. He couldn’t see anything beyond his fingers, pale against the inky dark. This took the prize for the stupidest thing he’d ever done; fishing with his own arm. Hells, he was stupid.
A tense moment passed, then another, and he dropped his hand deeper. The water soaking into the sleeve he had scrunched up around his elbow. He felt the acid bite of fear in his gut. This wasn’t his domain, it was alien and unforgiving, and he felt the distinct fear of trespassing. Take the bait, you stupid fish.
There was a flash of gold and his arm was wrenched, his face slamming down against metal bars. It rang with a metallic clang off of his forehead and cheekbone, pain lancing through his skull and up his arm. He grit his teeth, squinting down into dark water.
His blood drifted in a red cloud around his arm, and he saw more than felt the talons that were hooked into his forearm, holding him in place.
All in all, he got what he wanted; the merman had his arm captive and he was pressed against the grill of a fish tank with nowhere to go.
His sword dug into his hip and his arm screamed in protest when the merman tugged harder. Grimmjow wasn’t sure if the merman was keen on removing his whole arm or just punishing him for sticking his hand where it didn’t belong, but it fucking hurt. “Hey asshole,” Grimmjow growled. “Now that I’ve got your attention…”
The merman pulled harder, more blood pooling in the water. “Ow!” Grimmjow snarled. “I know you can hear me you big, stupid fish. I could kill you if I wanted to, but I won’t. I ain’t a fan of shooting fish in a barrel.” He fed his aether for a brief moment, the ley lines glowing a faint blue beneath his skin, just to prove his point.
The merman’s grip stayed as steady as before, but grew no worse. So he was listening. Grimmjow committed to a hunch. “That collar does something to your aether, doesn’t it?” Ley lines like that, this fish had some serious aether, a little bit of glass shouldn’t be enough to stop him. And that was a fucking tragedy.
The pressure on his arm lessened, but not enough to pull his face off the grate. The merman shifted his other hand higher up on his arm, out of the water, his claws sinking through his jacket into the flesh of Grimmjow’s bicep. Grimmjow’s eyes locked on blackened claws, glinting under the moonlight, then back on fiery hair that drifted through his blood towards the surface. Flat golden eyes stared up at him, unblinking, but narrowed, thoughtful. Grimmjow wasn’t so sure he liked that look, it was too intent.
Without the distortion of glass and constant movement, Grimmjow got a more accurate look at him, and despite the pain, he couldn’t help feeling a level of awe. He was looking at a legend, something that he believed didn’t exist up until four hours ago.
The merman tore his claws from his lower arm, pain quelled by the chill of the water, and instead of sinking back underwater, he reached up for his neck.
Grimmjow tensed, aether spiking in warning. “Heyheyhey, fish .” Blue energy crawled over his skin, a threat if this fish did anything untoward.
The merman paused, hand hovering so close to his neck his instincts squirmed to push him away, but Grimmjow’s hand didn’t move from the bar by his ribs, bracing himself..
The merman blinked a third, milky eyelid at him, and reached again, very slowly, seemingly aware how precarious his position of power really was. Grimmjow held his aether ready, nervous, but allowed it.
The merman gripped the bar by Grimmjow's neck, but didn’t actually touch him, and pulled himself from the water with what appeared to be a massive heave of effort. Grimmjow grit his teeth with a hiss as talons sunk deeper into his arm, the merman climbing him like a jungle gym. The merman’s hair clung to his skin in chaotic swirls, moonlight giving form to features that had otherwise been obscured by dark markings and shifting shadows.
Stark yellow eyes were just inches away from his own, and without a ton of water between them, they shone like molten metal, catching Grimmjow off guard with their sudden depth. His ears were pointed, maybe even barbed, poking out from hair weighted flat with seawater.
That hum was present in the air, deep and strong enough to make his eyes water. To Grimmjow's sudden shock, the merman's lips were suddenly pressed tight against his own. He stiffened, feeling his claws shifting from his arm to his shoulder and neck. His grunt of pain and displeasure was muffled by the merman's mouth. His lips were warm, like a human's should be, not the freakish fish he expected.
A half second after he was on the receiving end of the most awkward assault on his mouth of his life, Grimmjow realized it wasn’t a kiss at all, the merman was using the proximity to put his aether in him .
Panic kicked him in the ass and he lurched backwards, but the merman had a solid grip on his upper back and weighed more than a grown tiger. Grimmjow could bite him, but when the merman had a mouth full of shark teeth, he had to concede the upper hand, he didn’t want to lose any part of his face.
The instant Grimmjow began to gather aether into his hands in defense, the merman’s weight suddenly vanished. Grimmjow was free to scramble back off the grate to the safety of the deck, heart pounding in his chest.
Giving himself a once over, he still had all of his limbs and he was still in one piece. Twisting his arm under the moonlight, Grimmjow inspected his injuries. The claws that had dug into his arm had been shockingly purposeful, puncturing rather than shredding, and the water had made those injuries look more grievous than they really were.
Grimmjow called out, nerves settling. “ Fish , what the fuck?”
That humming was back, but it felt like it rang between his ears, all the way into his teeth. Grimmjow made a distressed sound, the feeling unfamiliar rather than unpleasant. Words seemed to form in his head. ‘Calm down, I barely touched you.’
It was a weird sensation, but it was clearly words. Grimmjow snapped, “You could have asked!”
‘ First of all, it’s easier to ask forgiveness, and second, why do you think I didn’t speak to you before?’
Grimmjow paused. That was a good point. The merman was so close to the surface his fin cut a knife’s edge through the water like a shark, giving him someplace to look when he responded. “I don’t get it, what exactly did you do?” Grimmjow had a feeling the other was fairly relaxed, despite how tense they’d both just been.
Grimmjow thought he heard amusement. ‘I kissed you.’
Watching a gold dusted fin , Grimmjow demanded, “Fuck off, what did you do ?”
The spines in the fin Grimmjow could see pulled closer together, relaxing into an acute angle . Grimmjow wasn't sure why his current attitude would warrant relaxing, but he didn't know shit about merpeople; maybe he was flat out reading him wrong.
The merman answered, ‘You were right, the collar negates aether, which is the primary way my kind communicate and I decided I wanted to talk. I needed close contact to get my aether inside you.’
Grimmjow felt the urge to gag, but that might have been the head injury. “Gross.”
‘I know. At least you’re easy on the eyes.’
Grimmjow wasn’t sure what to do with that, so he changed the subject. “You seemed real interested in killing me earlier.” He asked, “What changed?”
Grimmjow stared blankly at the merman. “I didn't what?”
Grimmjow thought he heard something resembling impatience. 'Want to kill me.’
“You couldn't have known that,” Grimmjow argued.
‘So feeding me your arm was part of your insidious plot to kill me?’ The merman’s tone was deeply incredulous. ‘My mistake.’
Grimmjow flushed. “How the fuck else was I supposed to get your attention?”
The fin disappeared beneath the surface and Grimmjow lost track of him until he surfaced at the edge nearest to him. The merman stayed submerged from the nose down, clawed fingers curling around metal bars. Grimmjow was once again taken aback by those eyes, shockingly warm, for a murderous fish thing.
Shifting, Grimmjow pulled himself over, sitting cross-legged within arms reach of the merman, and the other didn’t seem bothered by his proximity.
The merman’s brows drew together in a chiding look. 'You could have just asked for it. You didn't have to be so dramatic.’
Grimmjow leaned forward on a bent knee. “And you didn't have to give me ten new arm piercings.”
The merman's eyes narrowed with a smile Grimmjow couldn't see. ‘I thought you might have second thoughts. My mistake.’
Grimmjow noticed there was a flicker of aether in him that didn’t belong, his own aether would cannibalize it in moments. He looked from his own hand back to the merman. “This isn't going to last.”
'Unless the collar comes off, or you're feeling nostalgic for that kiss, it won't.’
Grimmjow could already feel the distance in the merman’s voice. He asked, “Why did you want to talk?”
‘Isn’t it obvious?’ The merman said.
Running his hand through his hair, Grimmjow let out an annoyed sigh, giving the wall of the mansion his most irritated glare. “You want out,” He said dryly.
Grimmjow cast a look of distaste over the surface of the tank, and his eyes settled back on gold. “Yeah.”
‘So get me the hell out of here.’
“I won’t exactly go unnoticed dragging a two ton fish down the street.” He was being sarcastic, but he honestly had no idea how this fish expected him to get him out without half the city noticing.
The merman rolled his eyes and said, ‘Get the collar off and get me out of the water, that’s all you need to do.’
Grimmjow blinked at him. “You can survive without water?”
‘What do you think the bars are for?’ The merman asked.
Grimmjow made a face. “Uhhh, to keep you from killing people?”
The merman smiled darkly. ‘ That too. ’ His eyes shifted to Grimmjow’s arm and the blood soaking white fabric. ‘ I’m surprised. ’
“By what?” Grimmjow asked.
“My claws are poisonous, and you don’t seem that bothered.’
Grimmjow snorted. “Oh, explains the burning. I thought it was the fuckin sea water.” Whatever expression flitted across the merman’s face, Grimmjow couldn’t pin it down, but it was a look intense enough to make him fidget. “What?”
The merman asked, ‘What’s your name?’
The merman’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. ‘Your real name.’
Nose wrinkling in a sneer, Grimmjow growled, “That’s the only name yer gettin’, fish.”
‘My name isn’t fish. It’s Kurosaki Ichigo.’
The merman cocked his head, questioning.
“Doesn't sound very fishy.”
The merman's eyes narrowed in annoyance. 'Grimmjow. Is that because of that scar on your face?’
Grimmjow bristled. “None of your business. I don't have to help you, fish .”
The merman sank lower in the water, expression suddenly withdrawn. He uncurled his fingers from the bars and he twisted, diving back beneath the surface.
Grimmjow watched the ripples on the surface of the water slosh up against the walls of the tank, the only real sound in the silence.
Grimmjow didn't like how resigned the merman sounded.
For a moment he watched the water settle, then he stood, wincing when it pulled the wounds on his back. He wasn’t a pussy, but it still hurt, and saltwater in puncture wounds wasn’t exactly sunshine and roses.
Feeling the merman’s eyes on him from the darkness of the tank, Grimmjow scowled. He lifted a hand to his brow, face scrunching up in pain at how tender that was. “Fucking fish,” he grumbled.
Grimmjow cast a look at the stairs, then back at black water. Curiosity led him there, but that’s wasn’t what was bringing him back. He spoke into empty air. “I’ll be back.”
He wasn’t sure if the merman heard him, but for whatever insane reasons he might attribute to his sudden desire to help, he was going to get Kurosaki out. Maybe it was his new head injury, or boredom, or sheer spite at the man that owned his life, but he sure as shit was going to find a way.