“They’re very nice,” says Erik diplomatically. “But they don’t look at all useful. What can you do with them, anyway?”
Charles smiles like Erik has said something that amuses him, and Erik considers swimming away. But the other weresharks are assholes and Erik doesn’t want to talk to them, either. Charles, with his useless but pretty looking tentacles, is the most interesting person Erik has met in ages.
“Would you like me to show you?” asks Charles, an invitation clear in his tone.
Erik agrees, and Charles moves.
His tentacles are everywhere -- wrapping around Erik’s biceps and torso and tail, caressing his fins, tweaking Erik’s nipples and flicking along his genital vents and --
Okay, maybe Charles’ tentacles are good for something.
“You know, I don’t think I’m quite convinced of the usefulness of your tentacles,” says Erik the next day. “You may need to show me again.”
It’s not remotely Erik’s best line, but the important thing is: it works.
Charles shows him again.
And again, the day after that.
And the day after that.
And the day after that.
Erik is smug about having such frequent and spectacular sex, but he should have known there would be consequences.
“This is your fault,” Erik snarls. Charles tries to put his hands on Erik’s shoulders but Erik angrily shrugs him off and starts swimming in a tightly compacted circle.
“You mustn’t fret, darling,” coaxes Charles. “Stress isn’t good for the babies.”
“Don’t tell me what to do! I didn’t ask to get impregnated with your, your--” Erik thinks about it and realizes. “I don’t even know if they’ll be sharks or octopi, or, God help us, some kind of hybrid. Octosharks. Sharktopuses-es. God, I can’t believe that I’m knocked up with your freakish sharktopus babies!”
Charles rears up angrily. “Don’t call them that! If you don’t want them, give them to me, and then we’ll leave and you’ll never have to see or think about us again, if that’s what you want!”
Erik feels like he’s been slapped.
He would never --
“Oh, hush, dearest,” says Charles, contrite. “I’m sorry. Please don’t cry.”
“I’m not crying,” Erik lies as tears well up in his eyes. Charles pats him soothingly on the shoulder and gently pulls Erik into an embrace with his tentacles. (And Erik probably should be objecting because it’s Charles’ tentacles who got him into this in the first place, but it turns out tentacles are also good for platonic hugging.)
Charles spends the whole night holding Erik and telling Erik how wonderful he is and how happy Charles is about the babies and how he knows Erik will be a good father and that Charles wants to raise their children together, so much.
So when Charles asks Erik if Erik will come home with him, Erik says yes.
So it turns out Charles is, in fact, a king of an undersea kingdom, filled with merfolks of all types who live together in peace and harmony and bullshit like that.
Also, no lie, Charles has a fucking undersea palace.
Erik could, if he wanted, spend the rest of the pregnancy, hell, the rest of his life, being Charles’ pampered consort, with nothing to do but be waited on hand and fluke and have frequent and spectacular sex with Charles (who is excellent at delegating and has lots of free time, hence being able to travel for his research which led him to meeting Erik in the first place.)
Erik figures he’ll get bored soon enough but that it might not hurt to try out that pampered trophy consort lifestyle for a week or so.
Charles has no objections to this plan.
“Oooof,” says Erik, as he feels the babies moving around. “They’re active today.”
“What do you think they are doing in there?” asks Charles as he rubs Erik’s round belly. Erik sighs and closes his eyes.
“Oh,” says Erik, distractedly. “Probably eating each other.”
“WHAT?” asks Charles, horrified.
Erik doesn’t actually see what the problem is, it’s a natural part of the shark and wereshark lifecycle. The circle of life and all that shit. Charles just gets more agitated when Erik points this out and to shut him up Erik agrees to let Charles use his telepathy to convince the babies not to eat each other.
Which means Erik will be getting even bigger over the course of this pregnancy, and Charles had better appreciate it.
Charles shows Erik later that night that he does.
So one of the few benefits of being knocked up by a tentacle person instead of a fellow wereshark is that the pregnancy is shorter.
The labor is still long and exhausting, though.
And despite his previous commentary, when Erik finally sees the babies, all he thinks is that they are beautiful, and they are his.
“Oh Erik,” says Charles joyfully. “Look at them. Look at what we made.”
“You’re having the next ones,” says Erik.
“My people lay eggs, Erik,” says Charles.
“You’re not getting out of it that easily,” says Erik.