“So Bee tell me a bit about yourself?”
Bee couldn’t stop smiling. He was finally here in southern Los Angeles ! Well not exactly it was more a tiny suburb near Los Angeles but still! Surrounded by sun, beaches, and boardwalks. Something to do on every corner! Nothing like boring old Jasper. “Well it was pretty boring back in Jasper but I worked at a ranch. That was my favorite job. Then I worked as a dancer in a Vegas show for a bit and I would race whenever I could- legally of course! I had a sweet Urbana back in Nevada but I had to sell it to get an apartment here.”
Arcee gave him a wide eyed look. “So what are you doing working for people like us. Aquarium life doesn't really seem up your alley. “
“Yeah I’m not going to lie it’s not my first choice but hey I love animals and people and I love the ocean so here I am! Alll-so it’s close to my apartment and my cousin Shane got me the job. He’s a firefighter in the local area.”
“That was nice of him. Your pretty face should do well here.” As they continued to walk through the building they chatted about less personal things. Turning down a fairly secluded hallway Arcee stopped. “Well here we are. That’s Orion’s office. Once you finish with the boss and get your paperwork done you can meet me out on the beach to meet the welcoming committee.”
“Awesome. Thanks Arcee.” The woman waved him off and Bee turned to knock on the door. A deep voice permitted him inside. The office was clean but cramped. The walls painted a dark blue and lined with old black and white pictures. It was comforting. The tall man behind the desk was also comforting. His well aged face was offset by his lively smile.
“Hello. You must be Aldo. Did you have a safe trip?”
“Yeah! It’s great to be here. Shane told me this place was pretty casual so feel free to call me Bee. It’s a nickname. You’re Orion?”
“That’s good to hear. Yes I’m Orion Price. It’s nice to have you here. We’ve been in need of a new set of hands.”
“Yeah Shane told me. You guys lost a few workers after the earthquake wrecked this place. It’s good to see you back on your feet again. Shane said he loved this place when he was little. It looks amazing.”
“Well thank you. We had a lot of support from the people around here but it was mostly my own funds that kept this place going. Which was of no problem to me. We aren’t just here for the community. We’re here for the marine life as well. We do a fair bit of rehabilitation you see. We have plenty of injured sharks, dolphins, and birds that we take care of and I couldn’t just let them down. You will be on the floor doing tours till we get you better trained. I have a quick guide to every species we have for you to read and hopefully memorize. Don’t feel overwhelmed though you are more than welcome to read from the book till you get your bearings. Due to our small staff however you will get some hands on time with the less dangerous animals. Feeding time mainly. Unfortunately you will also be required to help with maintenance. We all pitch in after hours to wash windows, floors, take out trash. That sort of thing. Upside is that I do have a special project for you if you wish to help Arcee.”
“Yeah sure what is it?”
“Well as you likely know we own a fairly large private section of the beach and at the end there is a large cave that goes fairly deep. Arcee’s wanted to explore it for months now but I can’t send her alone and the rest of us capable enough to go with her haven’t had the time. There’s also a sunken battleship some ways out that she found on a personal trip. She was hoping to use some of the equipment to take a look inside and see what it’s become home to. If you’re interested I can get you trained in scuba diving and rock climbing and you can assist her on documenting.”
“That sounds amazing! Sure I would love to learn.”
“I’m sure she’ll be glad to hear it.” Orion handed Bee the book and he slipped it into his bag. Then they talked about hours and pay and contract stuff. Pretty boring but the most important. The rate was pretty good for the hours even if it was a bit more work than usual. Shane did warn him he’d probably have to put in a little love time with the job. With the chance for underwater exploration Bee decided it was worth it. Also Orion used the beach for parties and stuff and let workers use the space in their free time so he might get a chance to learn how to surf! With paperwork out of the way Orion stood and took Bee on a tour of the building. He even let Bee feed and otter. AN OTTER! It was so cute. With the day already coming to a close and the tour of the facilities done Orion took Bee out back to the private beach. A small celebration was already set up and the smell of grilled meat filled the air. Arcee waved at him from a table. Orion and Bee headed over to sit with her.
“So boss is he good enough for the team?”
“Oh yes. Aldo here will make a great addition to our family.”
“Aldo? So that’s your real name. Nice.” Bee blushed at the woman’s teasing.
“Oh. I’m sorry Aldo. Bee was it?.”
“Yeah, but it’s ok you are my boss. If you feel you need to call me by my real name I understand.”
“It’s no trouble I promise you. It just slipped this old man’s mind.”
Bee smiled and took the drink Arcee offered him. It was nice and cold. Just what he needed. Despite being used to the heat, interviews and first days always made him nervous. Even ones as clear cut as this. “Thanks! So is this everyone? Just you and those two guys at the grill?”
“Those two goofs are Jackie and Basil but this isn’t all of us. The other four haven’t arrived yet.”
“Oh who are they?”
With Arcee preoccupied by her drink Orion took his turn to speak. “There’s also my wife Eleanor, my brother Ulysses, his son Henry, and our vet and on sight doctor Richard Gere.”
“Like the actor? Sorry. I’m sure he gets that enough to be really annoying.”
Arcee hummed in agreement as she set down her water. “What’s worse is he even looks like him a bit. Except he’s a ginger. Still hot for an old guy though. Right Orion?” Arcee raised her eyebrow and winked at the older man. Orion smiled a slight blush dusting his face. It also could have just been sunburn. It was hard to tell with how tan Orion was. Suddenly lively music started to play and the fit grey-haired man Arcee had called Jackie came over with a plate of food after fiddling with the boom box. He smiled as he set the plate down and grabbed at Bee’s hand to shake it as he patted the young man on his shoulder.
“Nice to meet ya kid. Names Jackie but I’m sure someone’s already filled you in. You like meat?” He pointed to the plate of steaks, chicken, and even a few pieces of salmon. The smell had Bee drooling. He’d been living off Poweraid and rice for the last few weeks and it was great to finally have the promise of a real meal only inches away. Was he going to have to wait for these other people? Was it rude to start eating early if you are a starving broke young adult? Bee hoped not.
“Hi. Aldo, but you can call me Bee and yes I do but I’m not picky. I’d eat anything at this point.”
“Good to hear. I just want to know before we clean the grill and start cooking for Orion.”
So Orion was into that vegan/vegetarian life. Bee wasn’t all that surprised. “Do you have corn? I love grilled corn.”
“For you kid I have all the grilled corn you could ever want.” Jackie gave Bee a finger snap and a wink and headed back to the grill with Basil. Bee was in love. He was in love with these people, this place, this life. Thank you Shane. Sure you can be an insufferable party boy most of the time but this time you actually came through.
Arcee stood to set up another small table as Basil came over with two hot pans. The man might as well have been some sort of harvest god to Bee. If gods were buff as all hell and wore fitted tee-shirts and green cargo shorts. “Whatever that is it smells amazing!”
Basil laughed as he set down the hot pans of food. “It’s paella.” Oh rice his old friend. At least there were vegetables and seafood in there as well. Seemed sort of weird to be eating seafood behind an aquarium. Probably why there was one without it for Orion. Basil patted Bee’s back as he headed back to the grill but quickly returned and set down a few plates of appetizers in front of Bee. “Don’t get too full now. The others should be bringin stuff too and Eleanor’s bringing us stuff to make ice cream.” With that said he went back to grill. As Orion, Arcee and him chattered and Bee stuffed his face the world around him faded to a soft comfortable haze. This was nice. Finally being around people again. Not caught in some stuffy hospital room alone night after night. So Jasper had been a bit boring that still wasn’t what made Bee leave. Bills needed to be paid, at least with this job he could have fun working off his debt.
“Bee. This is Eleanor.”
“What?” Bee turned to face Orion who was now standing with a tall pink haired woman. She smiled and knelt down to give him a hug. “Oh wow hi. Names Aldo but you can call me Bee.”
“Is that for your lovely hair-do. I like the black on blond it’s very handsome on you.” Bee blushed as he ran a hand through his hair. He really needed to find a good salon to get it touched up.
“Ahh. Yeah a bit. It was my racing name so it just sort of stuck. I had a yellow and black Urbanna five hundred and I’m too cute to be called something like hornet or yellowjacket. So they called me Bumblebee. Bee for short.”
Eleanor smiled as she took a seat next to Bee. “Is that how you got into your accident? Shane mentioned you were recovering and you needed something that wasn’t too strenuous.”
“Yep. Got a job to race for someone after their driver was a dud. Competition heard I was up and coming so they messed with the car. Not only did I roll but it practically exploded. Who needs thumbs right? I also got a nasty chest wound but hey advanced medical science and technology gave me my life and thumbs back. Even if it cost me a fortune.” Bee sighed and the woman pulled him into another hug. She whispered to him softly.
“I am sure you are a proud young man but do not be afraid to come to us if you need. Shane is technically my brother so that makes us family. I want you to feel that way.”
“Oh so you’re uncle Asato’s daughter. Wow Shane wasn’t kidding about the age gap. Did he adopt you too?” It was pretty obvious but Bee didn’t want to be rude. He didn’t know Uncle Asato’s life that well. Just that he got a few letters, birthday and Christmas presents from the man every year.
“He did but don’t let that discourage you. Family is bonds we create with people we love. I don’t want to keep you past your limit but I do want you to stay till Richard gets here. Did Orion mention Richard to you?”
“Just that he was the vet….doctor?” Eleanor gave her husband a disappointed look. Orion shrugged sheepishly as he went to go help two newcomers. She turned back to Bee.
“Richard has his own practice and he runs a free clinic. After Shane talked to me I asked him if he would be willing to keep an eye on you. He went a little overboard and said you were already seeing him to get your files. It mentioned that you should be getting physical therapy. Richard would be happy to see you whenever he can to help with that. For free.”
“Wow I’ve never been happier to have my rights violated. Thanks. That’d be great. If I knew things were going to get so personal so quick I would have forced Shane to be here.”
“Oh don’t worry about him. We’ll all get together at my father’s sometime or another.”
“I already made plans to see Shane tomorrow for drinks because of some fighting thing he had tonight but yeah… I still think he should be here either way.”
“Eleanor.” Optimus presented the two arrivals who had finished dealing with the things they had brought and had come to greet the party. A tall man who must have been Ulysses pulled Eleanor into a hug and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She then gave the smaller punkish looking kid a kiss on the forehead. Well not a kid. Henry was taller than Bee but he had one of those faces that it was hard to tell if he was in his teens or his twenties. The shaved head and red and orange faux-hawk punk look wasn’t helping him any either. “Bee this is my brother and his son. Ulysses this is Aldo but he prefers to be called Bee.”
Ulysses shook Bee’s hand. “It’s nice to have you on board. Shane said you were a reliable worker. This is my son Henry.”
Bee gave Henry a three fingered wave. “ Sup’ Nice to meet you.”
“Same. You can call me Roderick Bee. Cool hand things. Firework accident?”
“Uh close, real close. Car accident but there was a bit of fire.”
“Gottcha. You want a Corona?”
“Yes. But I probably shouldn’t around the work crowd. I’m only nineteen well almost twenty but still.”
“Holy fuck! You are the beefiest nineteen year old I’ve ever seen. It’s because you’re short and compact. Lucky asshole.”
Bee laughed sheepishly. “Uh thanks. The night went on from there eventually all the food was finished and they finally got to eat. Bee took no time to devour a little bit of everything that looked awesome. Except for the corn, Bee had lost count on how much corn he took. By the time the others had rested and had started up a game of volleyball Bee was on his fourth plate. He didn’t even think it was possible for him to eat that much. Eleanor tittered beside him as she loaded some empty coffee cans with bags of ice cream mix, ice, and salt.
“After Richard gets here and eats remind me to go to my car. I have some tupperware in there so I can send you home with some food.” Bee couldn’t help the blush on his cheeks. Eleanor was such a mom, a mom who could wrestle a shark!” Bee couldn’t help but notice her well defined arms as she shook a coffee can.
“Thanks. It’s really good.”
“I know this may sound foolish but I feel a but terrible meeting you now like this.”
Bee stopped mid bite. “Why?”
“When Asato brought Shane home I was twenty-one. I was trying to live my own life. So I didn’t quite care why he was so sad he couldn’t adopt you. I didn’t understand why he sent you all those letters and poor Shane didn’t know why our father asked him to send them to you as well. He sent you gifts and treated you as if he had adopted you and for a while I thought something was wrong with him. You were so young. It didn’t make sense. Just lying to you and forcing this strange relationship on you. I mean you had to figure out at some point that you weren’t actually cousins with Shane. Knowing now that you lived all your life alone...I wish I had done something sooner. My father has always had a sort of clairvoyance. Perhaps he knew. Me and Orion have been well off for quite some time now. I could have given you a family years ago. I’m sorry Bee.”
“Hey it’s ok. Like you said. You were just trying to live your life not get saddled by some strange regret of your dads. As for him lying about being my uncle I figured that out pretty quick after I snuck through some records and realized he had adopted Shane. Still it felt nice to know someone out there cared. Like I had a connection to someone. It’s like you said. Family is forged by the bonds we make with the people we love. Sure it was weird but it kept me going and I turned out ok. Sure I’m high school dropout but that didn’t stop me from living in libraries and learning for days at a time during the summer. I did everything I needed to once I got the cash. I got a job and an apartment and a car and now I’m here.”
“You shouldn’t have had to do that. You should have had a childhood.”
“It’s ok really. I’m hardened but not broken. I’ve always had a cute face so people gave me things.
“I just want you to know that after Shane spoke with me and told me about your injuries, me and Orion spoke and we don’t want insult you but if things get bad we want you to know that there will always be a permanent place in our home for you. We just want you to see us as your safety net.”
Bee felt a shiver run up his spine. His body felt heavy and warm. These people had literally just met him and were already being so nice. Bee didn’t know what to say.“That’s really cool of you and it’s comforting to know but I think I’ll be ok. This technically isn’t my only job. I’ve got something else that supplements my income. This is just like the steady job where I go and do something. I needed something that got me out of the house almost every day. Also you know insurance didn’t have that till just now. Still it’s nice to know I’ll have a place to go for like the holidays now.”
Eleanor waded through Bee’s mumbling managing to catch something about another job. “ Oh what else do you do?”
“I make videos on the internet.” Bee cleaned his plate and fell back against the bench with a heavy content sigh.
Eleanor stopped her shaking to give Bee a quizzical look. It only lasted a moment before she returned to her task. “You young people. Good for you. What do you do in your videos?”
“Umm….well I do video game stuff and uhh I did racing stuff and like car stuff but now I just do like anything. I do other stuff on a different site but I don’t know if you’ll like me still if I tell you so I’m just going to politely ask that you don’t post any picture of me with my real name on it online and also please don’t google image search me.”
“Oh hun. Do you really need money that bad?”
Not the worst reaction Bee ever got. “I mean yeah but also I….LIke it. I haven’t done a show since the accident but the people I contracted with are really cool about it. I was planning on starting back up as soon as I settled in so I could start making bank again. ”
“I’ll inform Henry not to put your pictures up on the sight. You’re very lucky I was a rebel in my twenties. Just don’t mention that sort of thing to Ulysses. He doesn’t judge but he judges if you can understand that.”
“Yeah I got you. Can’t really blame him for that considering he’s a lawyer. Thanks Eleanor.”
“We all have to do things to get by and I can’t tell you what’s what when you’ve gotten this far all on your own. So want some ice cream?”
As the game ended and the others fell back to the table Eleanor set up a few more cans and passed them off to whoever still had the energy left. As they chatted away a well aged ginger man came trudging across the sand to them. Orion stood and pulled him into a tight hug. “Richard! At last. Come sit. I’ll go inside and heat you something up and make coffee.” Richard waved Orion off but he was having none of it. As the doctor sat in a chair with a sigh Roderick leaned over and nudged bee in the side to whisper to him.
“They totally have old people threesomes.” Bee tried his best not to spit his drink across the table which only resulted in a lot of it dribbling down his chin.”
“Thanks for that.”
“You’re welcome.” Roderick grabbed Bee by the shoulders and presented him to the doctor. “Hey Richard this is Bee.”
The older man put down his beer and gave Bee a quick glance over. “Nice to meet you Bee. I’m Richard Gere the doctor on call when these idiots hurt themselves. I also put myself through veterinary school just to help Orion and Eleanor with this insane project. I’m only here in person on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday nights so try not to get hurt any other time. I’d like to have a private chat before you leave.”
“Yeah. Ok.” Richard hummed in confirmation then went back to his drink.
As the party died down and most of his co-workers left Bee helped Orion clean up as Eleanor packed up some food for him. With nothing left to clean Bee found himself sitting on the sand letting the water roll over his feet. Richard sat down next to him and the two quietly discussed Bee’s accident and set up a schedule for Bee to come to Richard’s home for therapy. Bee honestly couldn’t believe his luck. Two weeks ago he was in his old apartment panicking that his life was falling apart and now here he was lying in the sand. He was really going to have to save up to get Shane the best thank you gift.
Orion came over to the two, food in hand, and knelt down next to Bee. “Would you like a ride home? I know your apartment is in walking distance but it’s gotten quite late.”
Bee swam out of the fog of half sleep and scrambled up. “Yeah sure.” Orion pat him on the shoulder before holding out a hand to help pull him up. Beside him Richard stood with a groan and dusted off his sandy trousers.
“Ugh. I can’t believe you keep dragging me out here. Can’t we have one nice party indoors.”
“Not in California I’m afraid. Safe trip home Richard.” Orion gave the shorter man another hug before Richard headed off to his car.
Bee took a moment to stretch before following Orion back inside. After meeting up with Eleanor they all made their way to the parking lot. Eleanor gave Bee his food, a hug, and a kiss on the forehead before they parted ways. She gave Orion a quick kiss as well before putting on her helmet and driving off on her motorcycle. “She’s a cool lady.” Bee looked at Orion with a shrug and a smile.
“She is indeed.”
“Are you really alright with me just being shoved into your life. I mean giving me this job was really enough.”
“You are not being shoved in anywhere Aldo, rest assured. Now where to?” Bee told him the address as he climbed into the car. A few minutes later he was climbing up stairs to his apartment. The elevator was empty but a good trek would put him in a sleepy mood. Key into lock, Bee into bed. Well...couch. Bee had yet to go buy a new mattress and frame and he had been far too lazy to blow up the air bed he had. He knew he should have done it before going to the aquarium. Picking up his laptop he dicked around his social media. Shane won whatever illegal fight he had entered and had five hundred dollars and a new tooth gap to show for it. Good for him.
A few seconds later his messenger popped up. Raf. Bee clicked answer and the small boy’s smiling face popped onto the screen. The smile fell a bit a second later but quickly leveled out. “Hey Bee. No webcam yet.”
Bee quickly typed away. ‘Still in a box somewhere. Sorry Raf. How’s life.’
“That sucks. Life’s going alright. I’m just finishing up a paper. I accidentally took a nap before getting my homework done so yeah need to get it done now. How was the aquarium?”
‘Great! Everyone’s so friendly and they even had a party already set up for me. Once spring break or summer comes around for you then you’re more than welcome to take a bus out here and I can show you around the area. Hopefully I’ll have bought a new car by then. If I do I can pick you up. Your mom find a new sitter? I feel bad leaving her high and dry.”
“Don’t be silly Bee. She’s just happy you didn’t die. You really scared us. I’ll make sure to tell her you’re doing well. She did find someone new though so don’t worry. Another kid in the area. His name is Jack. He’s cool but is it a little sad that I end up helping him with his homework most of the time? Foreign languages just aren’t for everyone. Neither is physics I guess. He’s pretty good at building stuff though and he likes cars. I still miss you though.”
‘Well I’m still here. I’ll be busy for a while but I’ll message you whenever I’m not exhausted. Which will hopefully be a good chunk of the time once I get used to everything.”
“I can’t wait for you to do another video. What game do you plan on doing?”
‘Me too. I’ll probably do a stream of that new horror one where you like work at the monster school. It looks hilarious. Hopefully it won’t be too weird. I don’t want to have to do a mature stream my first time back with the knowledge that you’ll be watching it anyway.’
“That should be fun. If it is a mature stream I promise I’ll switch tabs if you give me a warning.” Raf looked at the clock on his computer and sighed. “I should probably let you go. It’s almost one and I still have two pages to fill.”
‘Ugh those assignments suck. God speed.’
“Thanks. Bye Bee.” Raf waved and then the screen went black. Bee closed the window and his laptop and set it on the floor. Laying back he fished around in his pocket and pulled out his phone. He hadn’t put anything up on his feed for a few days. Probably should do that and make a short video before going to bed.
“Alright message posted now to check my lights.” Or lack thereof. Bee flipped on a few lamps before checking how he looked in the camera. After a few short tests he decided it was good as it was going to get and recorded. “Hey it’s your boy Bumblebee and I am still alive! So time for an update.”
Back at the aquarium far off the coast a large blue and grey mass was scuttling across the ocean floor. On it’s back was a slick red and black fishy creature.
“You’re so SLOW Breakdown!” Knock Out swished his impressive tail impatiently as if that would help.”
“Not all of us can swim and the current’s really strong today.”
“Excuses, excuses! I’m sure you could swim if you tried. You know I love spending time you but if Conduit or Megatron find out I'm not in the cave or on the ship they’re going to crack your shell and seal me away!”
“Please don’t mention it! I worry enough about humans already I don’t need to be afraid of Megatron as well! I know bringing you up is dangerous but I haven’t seen you in a week!”
“You wouldn’t have to worry and you could see me more if you just LIVED IN THE WATER!” Knock Out bounced the butt of his tail on Breakdown’s shell to emphasize his point.
“I don’t like the water. It makes me heavy and sick.”
“The land makes you paranoid and sick! You live in a cave and sleep in the sand all on your own. You’re a MER you’re supposed to live in the water. The fact that you have gills means you’re supposed to live in the water.”
“We also have lungs and I breath better on land. I’m also faster on land. I was evolved for LAND! I thought you liked the land.”
“I do but I go up to watch humans not hide in caves. I only do that when I’m with you.”
“When have we ever just HIDDEN in my cave? Also it’s not good to have such a strange fascination with the thing you most like to eat.” Knock Out smiled revealing his two sets of sharp teeth.
“Why not humans do it.”
“I don’t think they eat the animals they keep on the strings.”
“They don’t even eat them when they die?”
“They’re not scavengers. If anything all they do is waste food.”
Knock Out sighed as he rolled over onto his belly. “Huhhh. Should have known Makeshift would have been a liar. He’s the only one who’s allowed to go on land besides you and he knows next to nothing. Their loss though those yappy furry things are a tasty snack.”
“I wouldn’t know. I usually stick to seagulls and whatever fruit I can scrounge, which is usually enough. One of these days I will convince you to eat a coconut. They are better than they look I promise.”
“I don’t want your fruit! You wouldn’t eat that junk if you just tasted a human.”
“Megatron ruined you! You know he abuses your knowledge. The humans are going to catch on eventually with you and Soundwave going out there everyday.”
“We all can’t be omnivores like you but I still eat fish! Humans are just easy meals and Megatron refuses to eat anything else now. So I have to go up and get food for him but I never to get to actually leave the water! At least I don’t have to hunt with the normal hunting party like Starscream.”
“ He loves hunting he's a shark! Meanwhile you get to spend that time stuck in a cave waiting for injured. Let me say it again. Megatron abuses your skill. He barely gives you any meat from the humans you do catch and you don’t get any of the food from the party except the fish that Starscream sneaks you. You really should just find a better shiver or something even better than that. A group with less sharks. There has to be nicer mers out there. One’s who don’t have a vendetta against humans.”
“I catch my own fish just fine! It keeps me fit. Even if there were other Mers out there I wouldn’t be able to get away in time before Megatron caught me. You know that. Do you really want what happened to poor Deadlock to happen to me?”
“When you sneak out and you’re not supposed to sneak out and of course I don’t want you to just disappear but we could sneak away together. I could move you on land. They wouldn’t be able to follow your scent. You always say you’d like some water with a little less salt.”
“Then they would just follow your scent. They have Conduit remember. Even if we did get far enough away I can only last on land for so long and as soon as we got back in the water we’d be dead. As for the water it’s just a preference. I do just fine here.So just stop worrying about me Breakdown. I’ve learned better! Soundwave helps me hunt fish before we go back to Megatron now and sometimes we even split a human together if we get the five for Megatron. I’m not starving like I was when I first washed up in your cave.” Knock Out wrapped his arms around the crab’s waist and nuzzled at the join where back met shell.
“You just keep going further and further for these humans. I’m just amazed that they haven’t done something already.”
“Like what? Humans can only breath air so they can barely swim naturally to the depths that we like to live at. And as for mers like you they’re too weak. I’m sure even a pack of them couldn’t even break your shell.”
“They can be creative though. So just promise me you won’t get netted for an easy meal.”
“What do you take me for I’m not dumb! That only happened to Swindle because he’s greedy! Megatron saved him though so. That’s what he’s for. To protect us.” Knock Out’s voice fell as he said it but the young mer still wanted to believe.
“Yeah well I’m all the protection I need and I’ll protect you from anything just remember that. Also guess what we’re here. I’m not slow, you are just impatient.” Knock Out pouted and slapped his tail against Breakdown’s leg. It didn’t do anything but it made Knock Out feel as if justice was served. He prepared himself for the change. As Breakdown walked on to the land Knock Out took in a deep breath with his lungs. The air was damp and pleasant. Not like it sometimes was in the more populated areas.
As Breakdown continued to walk deeper Knock Out shook his head to rid himself of the excess water. He looked a right mess out of water; he was lucky he had Conduit’s magic to help him for hunts. Breakdown never seemed to mind though and that always made him feel better. “Do you have any new books?”
“Yup. Another weird human love book this one with ghosts which are just dead humans only certain other humans can see, one about owls which are birds that live in forests, and one about hitchhiking; whatever that is. That one makes the least amount of sense so I suggest the owl one. It has pictures. You love pictures.”
“If I must. I do like pictures!” As Knock Out continued to groom his head and tail fins into a more presentable state Breakdown moved about his cave and set out a salvaged chair cushion next to his own hole. After wetting a few towels and draping them over the cushion Knock Out slid off Breakdown’s back and onto the makeshift nest. After Knock Out got comfortable Breakdown covered the smaller mer’s tail with another soaking towel. Before settling down Breakdown picked the book off the shelf he had carved into the cave wall and then dug around in his fruit pile. After selecting some choice looking coconuts, a melon, and some tiny red fruits to tempt Knock Out with he settled into his hole. Stealing a bit of towel to set his meal down on he gave Knock Out the book. Knock Out cracked it open and flipped through the pages. As he looked Breakdown cracked open his meal. He offered the still full half to the smaller mer but Knock Out only gave him a face.
“Will you at least try these, they’re red.” Knock Out looked them over. They were in a small plastic container so it was obvious Breakdown fished them from some human's trash which was gross but they still looked good and they did kind of look like fish hearts.
He sighed as he stabbed one with a talon and popped it into his mouth. It was sweet and sour and juicy. Knock Out supposed it was good but he didn’t want to give the other mech the satisfaction of winning. So he just quietly ate another and started reading the book aloud. Breakdown smiled to himself as he gnawed the flesh off a coconut. He knew he couldn’t gloat or he wouldn’t get Knock Out to try anything else. Once he was finished eating he moved around a bit and settled himself so he could rest his front comfortably on Knock Out and listened to the mer read.