Title: "Soul Rescuer"

Author: Shaitanah

Rating: NC-17

Warnings: Err… interspecies slash?

Summary: A lonely hermit rescues a young merman caught in the netting. With him, he relives his past and learns to look to the future. Slash; mentions of het Please R&R!

Special Thanks: To AeternaNox who drew an amazing picture of one of the main characters of this story. Exactly the way he was meant to look like. Your talent is boundless.

A/N: If 'The Little Mermaid' had been a slashy story rated NC-17, it would probably have looked somewhat like this. A sad and angsty fairytale.


He lived in a small house on the seaside where waves assaulted the high rocks in stormy weather. He rarely contacted other villagers. For their part, they shunned him and came to him only when they needed something.

He didn't mind loneliness. He rarely talked, so no one recalled the sound of his voice anymore. His hair obscured his face, his mouth was permanently hidden behind the high collar of his shirt. He was no more than a bleared visage of a long forgotten past.

The cat purred lazily by the fireplace. He put a pot on the hearth, and while the dinner was cooking, he went to check up on the netting. It was empty. He returned to the shack, ate rapidly and went to bed.

The wind raged over the stormy sea. He tossed and turned beneath the threadbare blanket, unable to calm himself. Strange uneasiness gripped him.

In the middle of the night the cat awoke and leapt on the floor and scratched the door, mewling agitatedly. He put on his woolen cape and walked out into the night.

Waves crushed furiously against the rocks. He thought it should be wise to remove the netting before it was damaged.

The storm was less intense in the small lagoon where he usually fished. He entered the water and felt movement beneath the foamy surface. The water was ice-cold; he dipped his fingers into it, felt about for the netting and noticed that something was twitching in it. Lighting the lantern, he located the rest of the netting and saw a man's shape caught in the net. No, not a man's. A waternymph's.

It was male, a fairly young one judging by his delicate frame. The hermit pulled the net up despite the captive's fervent protests and dragged it out on the rocks. The merman kicked viciously, trying to knock him off balance with the blows of his tail. The hermit pressed his finger to a sensitive spot on the creature's neck, and the merman promptly stopped fighting, sinking into the deep, sound sleep. The hermit snorted: just like humans!

He considered letting him out into the sea, but the storm became harder. The youth would probably lose course and crash against the coast. Giving it a bit more thought, he dragged his burden towards the shack. He had an old basin stored somewhere on the shed, big enough to contain a grown up waternymph. He filled it with water quickly and placed the unconscious body there.

'Such problems are better solved in the morning,' he thought, taking away the net. 'Preferably after breakfast.'

Morning came faster than he would have liked and greeted him with cold, pale-golden beams that glided across the bleached wallpaper around his bed. The soil was damp and rich after the abundant rains. The air still smelled of thunderstorms.

He yawned, swallowed a sandwich with jam of sour berries and suddenly remembered he had a guest in the yard. He approached the basin carefully to make sure the merman wouldn't take him for a threat.

A head covered in glossy dark hair peeked out. The merman seemed rather peaceful, and the hermit took a risk of coming closer.

It was a remarkable creature. He was built like a youth of no more than eighteen years of age except for a long tail covered in dark scales. His skin, unnaturally bluish in the beginning, returned to its usual pallid colour. Rosy flush played on his cheeks. His eyes were almond-shaped, mesmerizing, and there were no whites. Blackness covered the entire eyeball. Yet this didn't deprive them of expression. Curiosity mixed with slight fear gleamed in that abyss of darkness.

The hermit had seen merpeople before. Most of them had been fair maidens with innocent looks and deadly beautiful voices. This one was more of a man/fish hybrid and had something predatory about his countenance.

The sea was calm, and the hermit made up his mind to take the merman back to his natural environment. The only problem was how to do it. In the end he moisturized a huge sheet and gestured at it, encouraging the youth to climb on it. The merman knitted his eyebrows, then shook his head energetically.

"Don't you want to go home?" the hermit asked.

The youth didn't understand the question – or pretended not to. He bent over the edge of the basin and placed his palm flat on the ground, then stared curiously at the dry dirt that stuck to his skin. He licked it cautiously and spat, wrinkling his nose.

The hermit chuckled humourlessly. The merman continued exploring the world around him, tearing out wisps of grass, sniffing the air, splashing in the basin. Clearly, he didn't intend to leave so soon now that the first shock subsided. It must have been his first encounter with the 'upper' world.

The hermit stepped into the basin and wrapped his arms around the young waternymph's body. The merman hissed much like he did the night before. He had even, pearly shark-like teeth. His face transformed in a sinister mask, his eyes gleamed ferally. He struggled to break loose but the hermit held him tight. He wrapped him up in the wet sheet, loaded him on his back and carried him to the coast.

At a closer look a pair of gills was clearly visible against his skin. The hermit sped up, knowing that soon the young one might begin to suffocate.

The merman goggled his eyes at the scenery and looked around over the hermit's shoulder. The man could feel his uneven breath at the back of his head. Lucky for him, if the merman decided to bite, the collar would make a fine protection.

They made it to the lagoon quickly enough. It was isolated and rarely visited (the villagers knew that the hermit fished there). The sheet loosened, releasing the young one. He dived into the sea gleefully, sending a fountain of splashes towards the shore.

The hermit smiled to himself, wrung the sheet out and strolled home.

In a few days he returned to place the netting again. He fixed the meshes and took a walk down to an isolated beach. The sand was white, sprinkled with rainbow-coloured shells. A few dark pebbles rested by the water. The hermit clambered onto a solitary rock, fished a small pipe out of his pocket and began to play. Quiet music flowed over the sea.

"I know you're here," the hermit remarked, smiling. The water splashed quietly; the merman dived out and stared at the man with his huge impenetrable eyes. The hermit resumed playing.

The next day the boy was already waiting for him. the hermit played till sunset while the merman swam around the rock, mixing water with his tins.

Little by little the hermit grew accustomed to his presence. Sometimes the merman wasn't even seen, staying behind the rocky ridge, but occasional small noises indicated his presence, and that was confirmation enough.

Once the boy attempted to touch him. His fingers felt chilly and slippery against his skin. The boy explored him like he had explored the dirt, and the grass, and the basin in his yard. When he reached out to turn down his collar, the hermit moved his hand away gently.

"What shall I call you?" he asked. The youth blinked and gave no reply. "Fine. I'll call you Fish."

The other day the boy brought him a present. It was a fine razor blade with an ivory handle and foreign markings upon the steel. It had probably come from some sunken ship. The hermit accepted the gift with a grateful nod.

The Fish-boy crept up on the rock next to him and brushed his fingers against the hermit's cheek. He bared his chin, feeling the bristle beard and the roughness of scars of the face no one had seen for many years.

The hermit was young, twenty-three at the most, but he had long since stopped caring about his appearance. Such lack of concern made him look older. The merman took the razor from his hand and glided it over the young man's cheek, peeling off the hairs. Every stroke was filled with tenderness and unforeseen sensuality.

Finally the hermit looked down on his reflection and saw a clean-shaven youth with tired eyes and scarred cheeks. Memories of long ago. He used to be a seaman known under the name Eiyuu. He had sailed the Eastern seas, collected the wisdom of various teachings and returned home as a respected and feared man. Every pale scarlet line across his alabaster skin a memory. A distant dream. A destiny failed to be fulfilled.

Eiyuu had never thought of himself as a victor. Faraway wars that had naught to do with him had taken away his innocence. Unfamiliar people had ground his faith into oblivion.

The merman brought his face closer to his and slowly, tentatively pressed his lips to one of the scars. He glided them forth, tasting the skin, feeling its texture. Transfixed, the young man put his hand on the merman's shoulder. The boy backed away instantly and hissed, baring his menacing teeth. His eyes blazed ferally. He jumped off the rock, flicked his tail over the smooth sea and swam away.

The hermit didn't see him for a week. He could only guess what was the reason of such outburst. The merman appeared at the end of the month as if nothing had happened, but chose to stay farther away from the hermit now.

Eiyuu talked to him more often, telling him stories of his adventures. He would describe the landscapes and people vividly, lower his voice whenever the story dealt with mysterious ancient spirits and raise it high when picturing the battles. He carved miniature wooden figures of boats, and huts, and animals and arranged improvised performances on the shore. He knew that the words he spoke were no more intelligible to the merman than the whisper of waves on windy weather to himself. But the boy was captivated by the young man's liquid movements, his smooth, light gait, the way the figures danced in his fingers.

"Hey, Fish-boy," the hermit said at the end of one of his shows. "I made it for you."

He handed out a small wooden figure of a whale. It blinked its unrealistic eyes and sank down in the water. The merman gasped and went under to chase it. Half an hour later a strange gurgling sound reached the young man's ears. He realized the waternymph was laughing.

Like every other underwater specimen, the Fish-boy shared a common fascination with human legs. The day he finally made up his mind to get closer to Eiyuu he glided his exploring hand along the young man's thigh, feeling the unfamiliar muscles and curves beneath his hands. Eiyuu exhaled sharply as the hand moved higher. The grimace of shocked pleasure on his face did not escape the merman's attention. His hand slid beneath the hermit's long shirt, higher, up to the bulge in his loose trousers, tearing a long sharp sigh off his lips. Eiyuu inhaled forcefully, drawing in the strong scent of salt and waterplants. His body tensed like a huge ball of nerves, and before the release came, he grasped the merman by the wrist and pushed his hand aside tenderly/

The Fish-boy scowled, showing his impressive teeth. Eiyuu got up and left wordlessly.

The next day the boy was waiting for him. He held out his hands and gave him a small toy ship with rugged markings going along its body. It was a feeble attempt at the writing of the Northern Isles. The hermit was vaguely familiar with them and managed to decipher the name, Gorgonos.

The merman took Eiyuu by the hand and kissed his open palm.

"You?" the hermit asked, pointing at the merman. "Is that you?"

The boy whipped his tail over the water, twisting in a dolphin-like jump, and vanished behind the rocks.

On a fine sunny day the hermit went for a swim. He stripped and entered the cool water. Warm breeze caressed his skin. He sat in the lagoon like in a small bathtub, his back against the hard rock. To the tune of splashing and screeching of seagulls, he dozed off peacefully.

Soft touch upon his chest snapped him back to reality. He looked into the merman's obsidian eyes as they drew closer and the boy's mouth covered his, sucking him into the first, experimental kiss. Gorgonos pressed his lithe body to Eiyuu's, trailing his hands along the young man's hips.

The memory of another touch flashed through Eiyuu's mind. Years before now… There was a woman with shiny raven hair and eyes almost as black as the young waternymph's eyes. Her olive-coloured skin was contrast dark against his pale one. She was a strong spirit, but when he held her in his arms she seemed almost as fragile as Gorgonos.

The merman brushed his fingers over the young man's length, working him to hardness, his touch ever so gentle, inexperienced… Eiyuu shuddered as he sank lower, leaving a trail of kisses on his chest, massaged his nipples with his tongue, nipped at the skin on his belly. Eiyuu rocked his hips, thrusting into the boy's hand automatically.

Gorgonos vanished below the water. The young hermit tilted his head back, shivering. The boy's lips closed around him mercilessly. He stroked him with his tongue, grazed him with his dangerous teeth; panting, Eiyuu slid deeper into the boy's mouth.

He remembered her standing in the water amidst the milky-white lilies, drops of late rain on her bare skin. She looked at him; not a word, not a smile – she merely looked. He closed the space between them and knelt in front of her in the water, showering her with kisses.

The merman released him and pushed up, his body sliding over Eiyuu's. He licked the water off his chest sensually and plunged his teeth into the softness of his skin. Eiyuu gasped; the sound developed into a low growl as the pressure became harder. Gorgonos took him in his hand again, working him brutally, grinding his teeth into his shoulder at the same time until the boy's mouth was filled with the metallic taste of blood. He smeared it over the bite with his tongue, drawing an incoherent sigh from the young man.

She lay on the grass, and he was drowning in her as if she were that pond, and that grass, and that incredible, voluminous sky, and that bright lemon sun blazing above them. He locked his lips over hers, bathing in the sweetness of her passionate kiss.

His hands trembling, Eiyuu grasped the merman's shoulders. He could feel the boy smiling as he lavished his upper body with rough, open-mouthed kisses. The young man nuzzled his neck, biting at his collarbone gently. Gorgonos's cool skin was not that different from his own, yet it smelled faintly of salt and fish. To Eiyuu, the native of a fishing village, it was the smell of home.

Gorgonos sucked Eiyuu's finger into his mouth, mimicking the movement of his hand and tongue. The young hermit cried louder, ecstasy rippling through his body. This was almost too much… more than he could – was willing to – bear.

He screamed, shaking uncontrollably as his pleasure reached its peak. Released, he fought to catch his breath as he collapsed against Gorgonos.

She never smiled at him. Her countenance was a mixture of haughtiness, and solemn tranquility, and deep affection for him – but never did a smile touch her lips. She smiled at the merchants that came by her house and her nosy neighbours, her uproarious sisters and the children that used to play in the street. Never at him.

The hermit crawled up on the rock and lay panting, looking at the azure sky. Refreshed by another dive, the Fish-boy made himself comfortable by his side. Water dripped from his hair. His mouth half-opened, he stared at the young man, enthralled.

Eiyuu smiled, emaciated. Why did this peculiar creature remind him of his past so vividly?

Gorgonos stretched and planted a gentle kiss on the young man's ankle. She used to kiss that spot. He often had love-bites on his ankle.

He pulled the merman closer, allowing his hands to roam over his back. The black eyes glinted enigmatically.

He swept his hands over Eiyuu's chest and captured his lips in a quick kiss before jumping back into the sea. His resilient form flickered over the reddening sky as he dived out and back in in a bold jump.

Eiyuu rolled over, staring at the horizon. He would wait for his return. He had a purpose looking at the sea now. Something to wait for.

July 1 – 4, 2007