People saw strange things under the surface of the ocean all the time.


Like, ancient sailors swore upon the lives of their loved ones, that sirens existed. There were paintings and tales abound about the creatures sailors had no names for, and yet, even now, people refused to believe in such things.

How, Miles had no clue.

Just look at the things he had photographed! The coral was painted as bright as a sunset, and the fish were as varied as the birds.

He shuffled the photographs into a neat pile and sealed them in the envelope to be mailed to America once he docked tomorrow. Rebecca would love them, he knew, and she would push for him to have them published, as she always did these days.

Once the photos were sealed away, he pulled another stack of photos closer to him, photos that he would never allow another eye to see, but still made him long for a world where he could share them.

That world wasn't here, yet, and so he kept the photos hidden on his boat, locked away when he wasn't fawning over them.

Lir had watched him take photos of the fish and coral of the reef for weeks, before he pushed and shoved his way between Miles and his underwater camera, clicking the buttons with a wicked smile on his face, exposing his fangs and making Miles shiver with minute terror at the sight.

Still, Lir had taken his camera from him and swam away, holding the viewfinder up to his eye without any real thought for what the thing did, and clicked away. The photos he produced were mostly blurs of blues, sometimes colors, and abundantly of his fingers over the lens.

But sometimes, sometimes when Lir took off for hours at a time, he returned the camera full of photos of the corals lit by the sun, its rays turning the reds and yellows into something ethereal. And in those photos, sometimes, sometimes, there were other mermaids, not unlike himself.

Their tails were varying shades of blues and greens, and once, there was one with the fin the color of a carp, golden and shimmering in the light. Clouds of hair that wasn't unlike seaweed floated around the mermaid's faces, often hiding them from the camera's view, and sometimes letting ear fins poke through. There were teeth as frightening as a shark's, and eyes as large as a cartoon's. There were long webbed fingers, and there were smiles that produced bubbles that distorted the camera's view.

Miles had not really thought about Lir having others like him. Sure, he had seen two other mer-people aside from Lir, but they both had been… exclusive. They hadn't given off the impression that there would be more of them, so freely swimming through the plants and animals that made up the reef that Miles had found, so close to a human's reach.

For so long people had disbelieved that mer-people had really existed, that for them to congregate like that inspired awe and fear in Miles.

What if someone like Andrew found these beautiful creatures?

There really was nothing he could do, in the end. They were wild creatures, quick to shy from humans, and arrogant enough not to hide deeper in the ocean's waters. He could only let his boat float over the water's, keeping an eye out for more humans to come, and hope that Lir, if he understood anything at all, could warn the other's before it was too late for them.

Pain and sorrow twisted in his chest, and he had to remind himself that for thousands of years, humans have been unaware of the presence of mer-people. Surely they had more sense than he gave them credit for, to remain unknown for so long.

He dropped the photos into his lockbox and shoved it into the safe. He should destroy the photos, but he just couldn't bring himself to do so. He lived in a world so greatly different than Lir's. It was his greatest pleasure to be able to see the world that Lir saw, even if it did come from blurred and shadowed pictures.

He just hoped it lasted long enough to survive human's calloused touch.