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The Me You've Never Seen

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Trott could say with a smile that Ross and Smiffy were his best friends. They had only known each other for just over a year, but they had been friends from day one. The first time they met was because of an accident. Ross had fallen into the water from the top of a cliff along the shore. Ross was a fine swimmer, but he was no match for the waves of the incoming tide. Trott had seen him fall. He had lived in the waters near the cliff most of his life, and this wasn’t the first time someone had taken a fall from the cliff into the water below.

Trott had swam the man back to the shore where Smiff was now waiting. They were both grateful;They had thanked him more times than cared to remember. He just smiled at them, and told them he was happy he could help. Minutes after, they went on there way, disappearing into the forest. Trott had put them out of his mind, assuming he would never see them again. Just like every other land dweller that had crossed his path.

To his surprise, they returned the next day. They had apparently come back for the sole purpose of seeing him. He didn’t understand their motives, but he didn’t ask questions. He was always happy to have company, whatever the reason.

They properly introduced themselves this time. Trott was cautious when talking to them. He still expected them to just up and leave. They didn’t. The two stayed with him nearly the whole day. They talked about anything and everything together. In this time, Trott learned that they had settled down to build a home just a few minutes away from the ocean. He quite liked the idea of having people living so close to him. It meant that he might actually have people to talk to now and then.

The two didn’t end up leaving until late evening, when it was just starting to get dark. They told him goodbye and left with the promise of coming back as soon as they could, and they held true to that promise.

They couldn’t visit him every day since they had to build their house, among other things, but they still came around pretty often. They made sure to come at least twice a week, and they usually stayed the whole day.

Trott was happier than he had ever been. He had never considered his life to be bad, but he had certainly been lonely. Now he had two best friends to share his life with. He couldn’t describe how thankful he was to have them. They had become the center of his world without even trying. He always looked forward to their visits, to talking with them for hours on end. Seeing them leave at the end of the day was disappointing. Even so, he was still happy knowing that they would be back soon enough.

Sometimes he just wanted to go with them when they left him to go home. He had gone on land before, had walked along the beach and wandered in the forest. He had actually thought about living on land, though at the time he had decided against it. He wouldn’t have anywhere to live on land, and there wasn’t really anything for him there. Now though, he had Smiffy and Ross. They had made it clear that their home was his home as well. There was only one reason he hadn’t already moved in with them.

The thought of Ross and Smiff seeing him without his skin, seeing what he really looked like, scared him. He wasn’t sure why; He had no reason to believe they would think bad of him. They already knew he was a selkie, and had known for some time. They had only been friends for around two months when he told them. They had asked him what he looked like, asked him to take his walrus skin off and show them. He had panicked and refused, telling them that he would show them someday, but not today. They were kind about it. They told him it was fine, that he never had to show them if he didn’t want to. They also told him he always had a home with them should he ever change his mind.

He wanted to show them. He really did, but there was something stopping him from doing so. Every time he thought of letting them see him without his skin, his mind filled with countless what ifs.  What if it changes everything? What if they don’t like how you look? What if you’re not good enough for them? What if they don’t want you anymore? What if they leave you? What if you end up being all alone again?

Those thoughts made him want to cry. He had spent most of his life alone, but now he couldn’t imagine such a life. It seemed so stupid to him. He trusted them with his life, but he couldn’t bring himself to trust them with his appearance. The simple thought of showing his face filled him with crippling doubt and fear.He could be even happier. He could be living on land in a lovely home with his best friends, but he was too afraid to let them see him.

He knew he would end up showing them someday. He just never thought it would be in such a bad situation.

-

Trott always slept underwater. Being surrounded by the water made him feel safe, and the waves near the cliff always soothed him to sleep. He normally awoke to clear water and sunny skies, and went for a morning swim around the shore. Today though, things were different. He knew something was wrong the second he woke up, because the sun was just coming up in the orange-pink morning sky. He always woke up around mid-morning, when the sun was already high in the sky. It didn’t take him long to figure out what woke  him up. His whole body was itchy, and his skin felt like it had been rubbed raw. His eyes burned so much that he had a hard time keeping them open. On top of that, the water around him felt strange. and breathing was painful.

He took off for the shore swimming as fast as he could in his current condition. He needed to get out of the water, get his skin off, and find out what was wrong. It didn’t take him long to get to the shore, but to him it felt like forever. When he pulled himself out of the water he felt tired and incredibly ill. He laid down on his stomach in the sand, taking time to just breathe. Breathing still hurt, but not nearly as bad as it did when he was breathing in water only moments ago. Moving slowly so as not to be in any more pain than necessary, he pushed himself up to sit on his knees and looked back at the ocean. He cringed when he saw the state of the water.

The water had a strange looking rainbow sheen covering it’s surface, and some of the smaller fish were floating, dead. Trott knew what it was. He had heard of oil spills before in other oceans in the world. He knew how devastating they could be, how much damage they did to all living things in the water. Seeing and feeling it in person was so much worse than hearing about it.

He knew he was in trouble. There was oil covering his walrus skin and his body, and he had no doubt ingested a large amount of it while sleeping in the water. He already felt ill, and it would only get worse if he didn’t do something about it. The first thing he needed to do was get his skin off. There was a lot more oil on it than on his body, and having it off might lessen the irritation on his actual skin. He pulled it off and laid it out on the sand, leaving him naked. The fresh air felt nice, and he sighed in relief. That sigh turned into a coughing fit as his body tried to dispel the oil from his throat. He was panting and short of breath when he finally got the coughing under control. He was tired, in pain, and he just wanted to lay down and fall back asleep. He knew he couldn’t do that though. If he gave up and fell asleep now, he may not live to see his friends again. With that in mind, he forced himself to stand.

There was a little alcove in the side of the cliff where Trott kept his few belongings. Among the things there were clothes, trinkets, and most importantly, a communicator. Smiff and Ross had given it to him so that they could contact each other when the two of them weren’t with him. They mostly just used it to chat on the days they couldn’t visit him, but now it looked like it was going to be put to better use. Trott fought off dizziness and nausea as he made his way to the cliffside. It took all his focus not to just collapse in the sand. It took him far too long to walk the short distance to the alcove, but he eventually made it.

He dropped to his knees when he got there and opened the small chest that held his belongings. He grabbed the communicator from it’s place on top of all the other things. He was about to hit the call button when he realized something. Calling Smiff and Ross to help him would mean letting them see him without his skin. He cringed at the thought. He couldn’t think of a worse situation to be in. He had never wanted them to see him without his skin, but that wasn’t even his biggest problem right now. He hated that the first time they would see his actual body was at a time when he was so vulnerable and unwell. He wished there was something else he could do, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He could either call them for help or risk dying alone on the beach.

He didn’t even have to think about which of those two options he would choose. He looked down at the communicator in his hands, then back at the chest. He figured if they were going to see him without his skin on, he should at least put on some clothes. He set the communicator down and reached into the chest. He wanted something that was easy to put on and wouldn’t be too rough on his now sensitive skin. What he chose was a sleeveless black dress. He slipped it on, being careful not to let it rub on his skin too much. Once he was dressed he flopped down on his back next to the communicator. All the moving around made him more nauseous, and he fought off the urge to vomit. After taking a minute to pull himself together, he grabbed the communicator and readied himself for what was coming next.

He pressed the call button and put it on speaker so that he wouldn’t have to bother with holding it. He set it down on the sand next to him and turned to lay on his side so that he was facing it. It only took a few seconds for someone to answer. He sighed in relief when he heard Ross’ joyful voice.

“Hey Trott! What’s up, mate?”. It had been two days since they had visited or spoken to Trott, so he was quite excited to hear from him. Smiffy had come to stand next to him, equally as happy to speak to Trott. But both of their smiles dropped when they heard Trott’s weak and tired voice.

“I need help.”

He sounded exhausted, and his voice was scratchy and rough. Smiffy and Ross looked to each other wearing matching expressions of fear and worry. In the time that they had known Trott, they had never seen him be anything but happy and upbeat. To hear him sound so unwell was unsettling. Smiffy was the next to speak.

“What’s wrong? Are you alright?” He was trying to sound calm even though he was anything but calm. He knew panicking would only make things worse.

“Oil in the water. Everything hurts.” Trott knew phrasing that the way he did would make them worry more than they should, but he didn’t have it in him to care. Talking hurt more than anything else, and he just wanted to tell them what was going on in as few words as possible. Over the com he could hear them both take a sharp intake of breath after his words. Everything was silent for a second before he heard the sound of the sound of a door opening and Smiff and Ross’ hurried footsteps.

“We’re on our way Trott. Hang in there, okay? We’ll be there soon.”

Smiff spoke right after Ross.

“Where are you?”

“By my stuff at the cliff.” Trott closed his eyes and sighed to himself. Soon they would be there and he would be safe. They would take him home. They would make him feel better. They would see what he really looked like. That last thought would have made him cringe, but he didn’t have the energy to worry. He just couldn’t wait to be with them and to feel okay again.

-

The walk from their home to the beach usually took around 15 minutes. This time they ran fast enough to make it there in just over 5. When they got to the beach they both froze at the sight of the ocean. There were dead fish scattered all about the water. Some had washed up on shore, and the smell was awful. Smiff’s breath hitched as his mind conjured up an image of Trott dead in the water as well. He couldn’t stand to think about what could have happened had he not been able to get out of the water. He was pulled from his grim thoughts by Ross placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Smiff.” Ross said in a volume just above a whisper.

Smiffy looked over in the direction Ross was looking. There he saw a brown mass laid flat on the sand. They both recognized it as Trott’s walrus skin, but it was obvious that he wasn’t with it.

“He’s not wearing his skin.”

Smiffy knew Trott didn’t want them to see him without his skin on. Though he supposed at a time like this they would just have to go against his wishes. His health was far more important. Smiff picked up Trott's walrus skin before turning back to Ross.

“Come on!” Smiff grabbed Ross by the arm and resumed their run to the cliff.

A minute later Trott’s alcove in the cliff came into view. The sight of him made them run even faster to get to him. He was laying on his side curled in on himself. His skin looked red and irritated, and he was still shiny in some places from the oil on him. His eyes were closed, his face scrunched up in discomfort.

He looked different than they had imagined him. He was smaller than both of them in weight and height. His straight brown hair came down to his chin. He stirred as he heard them approaching, and looked up at them with dark, chocolate brown eyes. They had always tried to picture what he may look like, but they had never imagined him to be so beautiful. Though now wasn’t the time to think about such things.

When they got to him, Ross dropped to his knees beside him. Smiff stood on his other side, still holding Trott’s skin. Ross put his hand on Trott’s face and spoke in a gentle voice.

“You still there, Trott?”

“Yeah. I’m awake.” He said as he leaned into his touch.

Smiff watched as Ross looked him over to see how bad the damage was. He had noticed that the smaller man was wearing a dress. That was a bit odd, but he decided he could ask about that later. Ross looked up at him, having decided what to do.

“We need to get him home and get him washed off.” He said as he leaned down to pick Trott up. Smiff took a few steps back to give him room to do so. Ross put one arm behind his knees and the other around his shoulders. He hoisted him up into his arms as he stood.  Trott wrapped his arms around Ross’ neck and snuggled into him.

“We going home now?”

Smiff and Ross smiled at the fact that he had referred to their house as his home. They had always wanted him to live with them. Maybe he would now that they had seen him. Smiff moved so that Trott could see him and smiled at him.  

“Yeah, we’re going home. And we’re gonna get you cleaned up, you dirty fuck.”

Trott smiled at his friends typical suggestive humor. He closed his eyes and held on to Ross a bit tighter. Smiff and Ross had started talking, but he wasn’t paying much attention to their conversation. From the little he did hear, he picked up that they were talking about what to do with him when they got home. The sound of their quiet voices was starting to lull him to sleep. He figured it was alright for him to sleep now that they were here to look after him.

“Thank you.” He whispered. He drifted off before he could hear their reply.

-

The trip home took a lot longer than the trip there. Ross was walking slow so as not to move Trott around to much. When they finally made it back to their house, Smiff held the door open for Ross to walk in. While Ross carried Trott to one of the bedrooms, Smiffy draped Trott’s walrus skin over one of the chairs in the dining room. They would need to wash the oil off of it before he could wear it again.

When Smiff came into the bedroom, Ross had already laid Trott down on the bed. The two of them stopped and watched their sleeping friend. Smiff was the one to break the silence.

“We need need to get the oil off him.”

Ross nodded in agreement.

“Well I would suggest a bath, but I don’t think that would really work since he would just be sitting in the oily bath water.”

Smiffy frowned. Ross was right. They needed a way to clean him that didn’t involve sitting in still water. Smiff quickly came up with another option.

“Rag and a bucket of water?”

“Sounds good to me.” Ross walked over to the door before turning back to Smiff.

“You wake him up. I’ll go get the rag and water.” With that he walked out. Smiffy sat down on the edge of the bed beside Trott. He was surprised the little selkie had managed to sleep through being manouvered into the house and laid down. He looked much more peaceful asleep than he had awake. Smiffy almost felt bad about having to wake him. Almost.

With a mischievous smile, Smiff slammed his hands down on the bed next to him. Trott jolted awake, looking panicked for a second before he realised  it was just Smiff. He groaned and gave Smiff a half-hearted glare.

“Smiff! What the hell?” Trott whined.Smiffy smiled down at him.

“Rise and shine Trotty! We need to get you cleaned up!” Smiffy moved to sit near Trott’s head. He reached over him to grab the pillow from the other side and leaned it against the headboard. He then helped Trott sit up and get comfortable sitting at the top of the bed. While Smiff was helping Trott get settled, Ross came back. He smiled at his two best friends, set the rag and bucket down in the bedside table, and sat on the bed with them.

"Right then, let's get this stuff off you." Ross said as he grabbed the rag out of the water. He was gentle as he touched the rag to Trott's skin, starting with his face. Even being gentle, it was still painful for Trott to have anything touching his skin. He didn't complain though. He would rather go through a bit of pain than stay covered in oil.

It took them around an hour to get him completely clean. At one point Smiffy and Ross handed the rag over to Trott and left the room, so he could wash the parts of himself he didn't want them to see as well as change clothes. The clothes he changed into were a pair of Ross' boxers and one of Smiffy's shirts, both of which were several sizes too big for him. When it was all said and done, Trott felt both better and worse than before. It felt nice to be clean after being all oily for so long, but all the moving around had made him feel ill again. He sat down on the floor after changing clothes. He felt like he was going to throw up if he tried to move again. He called out for Smiff and Ross, and they both came back in and rushed to his side. He held his arms out to Ross, asking without words to be picked up.

"I need to puke." Ross scooped him up in his arms and ran to the bathroom with him. He set the smaller man down on the bathroom floor and kneeled next to him. Seconds later Trott was throwing up into the toilet.

Ross winced at the sound. He rested a hand on Trott’s back and waited for him to get it all out of his system. When he finally leaned away from the toilet, Ross grabbed a handful of toilet paper and wiped the snot from his face. As he tossed the toilet paper in the toilet and reached up to flush it, Smiff walked in with a glass of water. He sat down on the other side of Trott and handed him the water.

“You okay?” Smiff asked after watching him down half of the glass. Trott nodded and set the cup down on the floor.

“I actually feel a little better now. I guess I puked up some of the oil in my system.”

Smiff nodded. He looked over to Ross and motioned for him to stand up with him. They both grabbed Trott by the arm and helped him up as they stood.

“Come on then,Trotty. You need some rest.” Smiffy wrapped an arm around his waist and the three of them walked back into the bedroom. Trott plopped down on his back in the middle of the bed and sighed. He was exhausted, but he wanted to have word with his two friends before he went to sleep. He felt the bed dip on either side of him, and he smiled. Ross was sitting against the headboard, and Smiffy was laying on his side with his head propped up on his hand. Trott looked over at Smiff, then Ross, before settling on staring up at the ceiling.

“Thank you, for all this.”

Smiff frowned and leaned a little closer to him.

“We’re your friends mate, you don’t have to thank us. We’ll always cover for you when you get your ass in trouble.” Smiff smiled at him, and Ross nodded in agreement. Trott took a moment to plan his words before speaking again.

“No, not just for that. I mean, thanks for not treating me any different than before. You know, now that you’ve seen what I look like. I was always afraid things would change, and I’m glad they didn’t.”

Ross slumped a little further down onto the bed and put an arm around Trott’s shoulders.

“I don’t see why anything would change, You’re still the same person you’ve always been.” He looked over at  Smiff and smirked. “ Although, Smiff’s probably gonna flirt with you more than before now that he knows you’re cute and short. Ya know, he has a thing for short people.” Smiff scoffed at him and stuck his tongue out.

“Shove off, Ross!” Ross rolled his eyes at him and looked back down at Trott.

“But seriously, you need sleep. You’ve had a shitty day, and I know you’re tired.”

Trott nodded at him and turned over onto his side. He snuggled into his pillow and closed his eyes, and for once, he didn’t worry about what the future would hold.