I love mermaids. They're truly amazing creatures, in my opinion. So naturally I had to write a story about one, and I think that it turned out rather lovely.
Sea to Sky
The sun is warm, obscured by the thick foliage of the trees overhead. Heavy boots crunch the dead leaves and twigs underfoot, borrowed cloak whispering across the pebbles and dirt. Sweat rolls across Jason's dirty skin, his hair, already unkempt, sticking awkwardly to his brow.
But he's close, so close. He can taste salt in the air and feel the cold breeze that rose off the water, so he keeps going, stumbling and tripping his way through uncharted woods.
He pushes aside branches and bushes, tearing through vines and ripping the leaves from the branches until his hand breaks through. The leaves and dirt underfoot change to rocky sand, and he pushes away the last of the branches to reveal a clear lake.
Groaning audibly from relief, he falls to his knees, scuttling forward, cupping his hand in the water, drinking some and using the rest to wash the sweat and dirt from his face. The water is cool against his fevered flesh, dripping down to soak into his shirt, making it cling uncomfortably to his chest.
Now that he was in the full heat of the sun, he sighs, shedding his cloak, setting it down in a bundle at the base of the tree nearest him. Straightening, he starts to turn around, a flash of silver catching his eye, disappearing again by the time he fully turns.
He shrugs it off, sitting down cross legged by the edge of the lake. He looks around, almost expecting to see someone there with him, but the only movement that he managed to catch was the silver blur at the edge of his vision once more.
"Is someone ... there?" he calls out, somewhat hesitantly, even though he's not expecting anyone to actually answer him.
But they do, just not in words as he might have expected. Instead a small, spidery hand appears from behind a rock. He panics, picking up the nearest rock he can find, aiming it at the hand, which is followed by a head and a torso, peering at him shyly with curious silver eyes. A boy that, he notices, appears to be naked in the cold water.
The boy moves forward hesitantly, until Jason can reach out and touch the wet skin of his shoulder. "Hey there, little boy. Where are your parents?" he asks the boy, who ignores him, reaching up slightly to tug at the buttons of his coat curiously. "Hey, stop that. Where are your parents?" he asks again, batting away the boy's hands.
The boy drops his arm and looks at him curiously, gesturing his gaze downwards into the water before smiling shyly at him. Jason blinks and shakes his head sadly. "Well, come out now, before you catch your death in there." He stretches out his arms for the boy to grab, but he panics, hastily trying to swim away.
Jason sighs and reaches down, hooking his arm around the boy's trembling, slick back and hoisting him as gently as possible out of the water. The boy panics and writhes violently, but Jason's other hand comes to hook under his tail.
Tail? Jason looks down and lets out a yell of surprise, flinging the writhing ... creature back into the water as he scrambles back. When he looks again, the boy is gone from his sight, and he sighs, somewhat sadly, guilty for scaring him away.
"Sorry," he says to no one in particular, shrugging his shoulders and sitting down by the water again. He glances at the rock that was previously clutched in his hand, throwing it boredly up and over the boulder that the boy hid behind, listening for the splash that never came.
Jason frowned, staring at the rock as the boy appears again, clutching the rock tightly in his hand, handing it back to Jason. "Oh, er ... thanks." The boy smiles shyly and makes to leave again before Jason speaks again. "Do you speak English?"
The boy turns around and shakes his head. Jason nods slowly, "But you can understand me, right?" he asks and the boy nods his head. "So what do you speak?"
The boy didn't answer, but disappeared under the water for a moment before coming back to the surface. He clutched a stick in his hands, that he put to the sand and traced out a messy nothing into the wet, grainy surface, only to have it quickly washed away by the water.
The boy turns to him, shrugging his thin shoulders before going back to his rock. Jason follows, hoisting himself up onto the smooth, mossy top. He looks down at the boy, wrapped around the contours of the rock, looking around curiously. Jason laughs and whistles at him.
"Hey, I'm up here," he says and the boy looks up, somewhat irritably, crossing his arms over his chest crossly. "You want up?" he asks, offering his arm to the boy, who stares at it guardedly. "You can just jump back down if you wanted to, you know."
The boy uncrosses his arms and lashes out at his offered arm, trying vainly to hoist himself up onto the rock. Jason laughs, curling his arm around his back, flipping him up and onto the rock beside him. Folding his legs under him, he takes a look at his catch properly.
His torso is angular, pale and smooth from being constantly in salt water. Just below his waist, the skin shifts into snowy white scales that darken into the silver that matches the colour of his eyes. It's rather thick, he notes, narrowing at the end, almost tapering off before widening into a delicate, translucent fin.
"Well, hello again," he grins at the boy who rights himself, pushing towards Jason with his thin arms, tail gleaming wetly as it slithers after him. "Do you have a name? Because it's weird to always call you 'boy' in my head," Jason asks as he moves himself closer to the boy.
The boy arches his brow boredly, and Jason's cheeks tint pink. "Ah, right ... You don't talk. But you can write, so can you write it down for me?" he shows him a pad of paper procured from his breast pocket and a pen. The boy stares at it curiously. "Like this," Jason offers, writing down his name on the paper and showing it to the boy, who nods and takes it hesitantly.
Why should I tell you my name? he writes and shows it to Jason.
Jason reads it and laughs, shrugging his shoulders. "Like I said, because it's odd calling you 'boy' in my head all the time."
Caspian. Like the Caspian Sea. And I'm not a boy; I'm twenty.
Jason nods and then grins at Caspian. "You're still younger than I am." Caspian rolls his eyes and flicks water at Jason with his tail. Jason can see each scale glinting in the sunlight every time he made any sort of movement. "So why don't you have a voice? I thought mermaids were supposed to sing and shit."
Mermaid? Do I look like a mermaid to you?
"Well, mermaid or merman or merboy or whatever, you don't exist! You aren't real! You shouldn't be real! How hard did I hit my head exactly ...?" he rants and Caspian just stares at him oddly.
Don't I seem real to you?
Jason shakes his head quickly, holding his hands up in surrender. "Well, yes, but as I said I hit my head pretty hard. Regardless of gender technicalities and back to the singing thing, that was not what I meant." Caspian gives him an odd look, tilting his head with the scowl still present. "I meant that when I read about you, you know, in Mythology books, it always referred only to mermaids, so I didn't know if mermen are the same or not."
Well, we are. I used to sing, but someone stole my voice.
Jason frowns. "Why would they do something like that?" he asks and is rewarded with a funny look, that's part patronizing and part amused.
You honestly don't know? We sing to lure sailors to the rocks and drown them.
Jason nods. "Yeah, I read that somewhere. But why does it matter if you sing while you're in this lake? There are no sailors here for you to drown are there?"
I could lure people; not just sailors. I used to, before my voice was taken.
"So why haven't you drowned me yet? Aren't you only interested in luring people with your beauty so you can drown them?" Jason asks and Caspian gives him an affronted look. "Not that I mean any offence by it or anything!"
Yes. And you do feel attracted to me, don't you?
Jason arches an eyebrow and scoffs. "That's rather presumptuous, isn't it? What makes you think that I'm attracted to you?" He's rewarded by a bored look from Caspian, who shows the message to him again, arching an eyebrow pointedly. "And what if I am? Don't let it get to your head!"
Caspian gives him an understanding look. Not your fault. We have an allure about us, you can't resist it, being a human.
"No need to sound condescending about it," Jason sulks, and suddenly finds himself with an armful of sea creature as Caspian makes himself comfortable in his lap, curling his heavy tail around Jason's legs. "So you don't want your voice back?" His chin rests on the wet shoulder so that he can see Caspian's answer as he writes it.
I do. I'm not really anything without my voice. But I don't really have an option, do I?
"Can't you just promise not to sing anymore? Won't he give it back if you promise that?" Jason asks, shifting to make himself comfortable beneath the weight of the merman.
Can you promise not to breathe?
"Okay, I get it. Stupid suggestion. But why are you here if you lure sailors? There are none here and it seems that the locals stay away from you," Jason asks, glancing around the woods that surround the small lake.
Yes. I came here years ago, through that river over there, but now it's blocked by a dam or something, so I'm stuck here, Caspian replies.
Jason nods. "I see," he sighs and Caspian's head rests on his shoulder. "I wish that I could help you, really. But I don't think that there's anything that I can do."
You'd kill a thousand people just so you can hear me sing?
"I never said anything about killing people!" Jason says, defensive. "You just seem ... sad. I want to see you when you're happy."
Are you daft? I sing to kill people. So it'll be on your shoulders; all their deaths. And anyway, what if my melancholy has nothing to do with my voice?
"I think it does," Jason says, flushing at the first statement and choosing to ignore it completely. Caspian arched an eyebrow at him. "You said yourself that you're nothing without your voice." Caspian begins to write something in response before he snaps up to look at the trees where Jason came from, eyes narrowing. "Something wrong?"
"Jason? Jason!" now Jason can hear it, too, hurried footsteps through the forest and finally a figure of a woman in a black cloak bursting through the trees. "Oh, Jason there you are." Her eyes, fall on Caspian and she reaches for the dagger in her belt.
"Elizabeth!" Jason calls, grunting in surprise when Caspian jerks around in his lap, to the edge of the rock, gaze flickering between Jason and Elizabeth. "Hey, no, Caspian come back, I won't let her hurt you," he tries to comfort, reaching out his hand, but Caspian recoils, his face panicked.
"Jason! What are you doing with him? Throw him down onto the beach so that I can kill him!" Elizabeth demands, gripping her dagger tighter and watching Jason as he tried to comfort the merman. "Quickly now, before he drags you down and kills you!"
"What? Why?" Jason asks, and Caspian takes the moment to jump down from the rock and into the water. "Hey! Come back!" Jason calls as the silvery tail disappears from sight. He stands up and gets ready to jump in after the merman when he's grabbed by the scruff of his shirt and thrown backwards onto the beach. " Why would you scare him away? He hasn't done anything to me!"
"Stupid boy! Stay away from him!" she hisses, sheathing her dagger and handing his cloak back to him. "Now come, before he comes back for you. Lucky for you he didn't immediately drag you in with him."
"That would be fine. I want to see him again!" Jason argues, digging his heels into the sand and turning back to the rock, ignoring the woman tugging on his sleeve.
"Idiot! Come!" Elizabeth says again, finally managing to pull him along. "Why didn't you throw him onto the beach like I told you to? I could have finally been rid of the stupid creature!"
Jason remains silent, sulking, hoping to catch a glimpse of the merman again, turning around frequently until the lake was out of sight, obscured completely by the trees.
Jason sits on the couch, shirtless as Elizabeth checks his shoulder beneath the bandage. "You popped several stitches. Probably from lifting the vile thing."
Jason scowls. "He's not vile! Besides, he has no voice, he can't do anything. He hasn't even tried to kill me," he says, wincing as Elizabeth sets to work restitching the wound. Luke, Elizabeth's son, sits across from him, grinning knowingly.
"Yes, I know he doesn't. You're looking at the person that stole it," Luke says as Elizabeth finishes. "And we're telling you to stay away from him because he's dangerous."
"No he's not!" Jason tries again, desperation edging into his voice. "You don't understand! I have to see him again! He won't kill me!"
Luke keeps grinning at him, shaking his head in amusement. "Yes, he will," he speaks in that soft way of his so that his voice resounds. Jason turns to him and Luke tilts his head so that the crosses that are clipped into his hair glint in the light.
"No he won't! He likes me!" he yells desperately, standing up and tossing his shirt back on when Elizabeth finishes with the bandages
"Do you know nothing about merfolk?" the older male says folding his hands in his lap, grin gone and blue eyes piercing.
"I do! It's you who knows nothing! Caspian is gentle and won't hurt a fly! I know he won't!" Jason slams his hand on the arm of the chair he's sitting in. "You don't know him!"
Luke shakes his head and sighs. "That creature has killed more people than you have taken breaths. Even without his voice he manages to lure hapless idiots like you."
Jason is silent, thinking of Caspian alone on the rock, wondering where he went, alone in the cold of the night. "He won't do that! Why won't you understand! He's just looking for a friend since he's trapped here and can't get back to the others."
Luke laughs. "Are you kidding? His kind are extremely territorial. He'll kill any other merman to come near his hunting grounds."
"Why won't you listen? He won't kill anyone!" Jason hisses through grit teeth, hands clenching into fists. Luke just nods and sighs, standing up to leave.
"The door is locked, so don't think that you can get out without a key. Try and get some sleep, okay? We'll see if you're better in the morning." With that, he turns and leaves.
Jason sits on the couch, unable to sleep. He hasn't even stripped so that he can get to sleep, opting to remain in his day clothes.
A little before dawn, Elizabeth comes in, holding her hand out to him, key nestled in the middle. He looks at it warily, his gaze coming up to search her face.
"I can't have you breaking down the window. Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into, you idiotic American," she says, turning and leaving as quickly as she had come, leaving the key lying on the arm of the couch.
Jason snatches the key, pulling on the cloak and bolting out the front door, rushing through the woods, uncaring of the branches smacking him in the face, tugging at his hair.
He reaches the beach just as the sun was rising at the horizon. Caspian was there, lying on his stomach, chin resting on his folded arms. His tail was folded in crescent at his side, fin flicking idly in the water.
The golden rays of the sun bounce off the scales of his tail giving it a golden undertone, and shone on his skin and off his pale silvery hair. He looks surreal and completely inhuman.
"Caspian! You're still here!" Jason calls happily, quickly hoisting himself up onto the rock beside the merman, who sits up and looks at him, silver eyes guarded. Caspian picking up the paper pad that was still there from the day before.
Why did you come back?
"What do you mean why did I come back?" Jason says, grin slipping slightly. "Don't you want to be with me?" he asks, frowning at the merman who grins at him.
I never said that. I just figured that the witch would have warned you to stay away from me, is all. I figured that you had enough sense to listen, Caspian responds with a shrug.
"She did. So did Luke, her son. I told them that they don't know what they're talking about; that you'd never hurt a fly if it were up to you," Jason says, shedding the cloak as Caspian makes himself comfortable in his lap once again.
I see. You believe that I haven't killed anyone at all?
"No, but I believe that you would never hurt me. I can tell," Jason says with a grin as he felt Caspian's tail curl around his hips as the merman settles himself better in the space between his legs. Caspian does not respond to that, so there are several moments of silence before either move.
What happened to your shoulder?
"Huh? What do you mean?" Jason asks, frowning first at the piece of paper and then at Caspian, who prods at his hurt shoulder curiously, pawing at his shirt as if he wants it off. "Oh, nothing, really. I told you that I'm a pilot, right?" Caspian nods and stops at his pawing. "Well, I got hurt when I crashed, that's all."
Does it hurt if I touch it?
"Nah, not too badly, really," Jason says, but still removes the merman's hands from where they fumble at the bandage over his shirt. There's silence again and Caspian busies himself with the buttons of Jason's shirt, tugging and pulling. "Doesn't it get lonely?" Caspian's head jerks up along with his eyebrow. He fumbles for a new sheet of paper, writing for a few moments before thrusting it into the American's face.
I beg your pardon? Jason reads and colours.
"Being here alone, I mean. You said you were trapped, didn't you? And you can't even sing. Don't you wish to go back?" Jason asks, tracing absently at a scar down the middle of the merman's torso, ending just after his tail begins.
Even if I am lonely, what good will that do me? It's not like I can get out, or even get my voice back.
Caspian stares at him for a long moment, before he arches up and kisses him. Jason chokes on whatever he was going to say, reeling as his hands curl into the tail curling tighter around him. Caspian is good; not overwhelming but still confident. The taste of salt invades his mouth and he pulls away, breathing heavy.
Caspian is watching him, eyes narrowed. Jason shrugs, "You took me by surprise."
Caspian shakes his head, placing his hands on Jason's shoulders, so Jason has to crane his neck up, leaning back down hesitantly so Jason has a chance to react, meeting their lips again. Jason doesn't recoil this time, placing his hand on the curve of Caspian's waist, one finger on fine white scales and the rest on pale, smooth skin.
Slender arms wrap around his neck as the merman presses his torso to Jason's, and his movements send Jason squirming uncomfortably, and he gets half a mind to wrap his legs around the tail to keep the friction there, where it belongs. But then Caspian moves away and in his place are half formed thoughts on how to take Caspian home with him.
The merman's eyes are narrowed, barely a sliver of silver visible. He removes himself from Jason's lap, sitting beside him on the rock, with his tail curled around him. The sun by then is fully risen, still glinting off of his skin and hair and scales and his eyes, which are bright and curious.
Will you come with me?
"Come with you? Where?" Jason asks, but he wants to, oh he wants to. Desperately. Caspian gestures about him absently.
To sea. So that I won't be lonely anymore. I don't want to be alone anymore, he responds, pressing his chest to Jason's side and grabbing his wrist, tugging him towards the edge of the rock.
"To sea? With you?" Jason doesn't hesitate, nodding his head and dropping another kiss on Caspian's salty lips, as the merman jumps from the rock and Jason follows, sea water sloshing up to his ankles. When it's up to his hips, Caspian swims around him, fluid and powerful, still tugging on his wrist.
When the water is up to his chest, he feels a hand wrap around his middle, dragging him roughly back to shore. Jason twists and fights against the hand. "No, let me go! I know what I'm doing! I don't want him to be lonely anymore!"
"He wants to kill you! You idiot American, I told you to stay away from him, didn't I?" Jason turns, but his assailant is turned away from him. He can see the crosses glinting in the dark chocolate hair. "Luke! Let me go! You don't understand!"
He manages to half turn, to see Caspian back up on the rock, examining the cloak that Jason left behind him. The older man stops, but doesn't let Jason go. He sighs, "Jason, just shut up and come with me. You're dripping wet and you're clearly out of your mind."
"No! You don't understand! Just let me go!" Jason keeps fighting, all the way back to the house, where he's dumped on the couch and stripped off his dripping clothes. "If I put on new clothes can I go back to him?" he asks, somewhat childishly.
Luke throws new clothes at the younger, naked man on the couch and goes to lock the door. "No. You can't go and see him anymore, understand? He's trying to kill you."
"No he's not," Jason argues, pulling on the new clothes and standing up, fists balled at his sides. "You don't understand. You don't know Caspian!"
Luke raises an eyebrow. "So you're on a first name basis, are you? Well, regardless, yes I do understand. More than you may think."
Jason lets out an exasperated breath. "Then let me go and see him! If you know him you won't want him to be lonely either! Please!"
"Has he kissed you?" Luke asked, pressing the younger man into the couch, sitting down in the chair across from him. Jason refuses to answer, looking away. "Has he?" Luke presses, sighing when Jason flushes gently in the light of the sun from the window.
"Let me go and see him. Please, I'll come right back. I just want to see him," Jason pleads, but Luke shakes his head. Jason's face hardens and he surges upwards. "How can you possibly say you understand if you don't even care that he's lonely?"
"Because I was in love with him, too. And I believed that he loved me back," Luke answers, clasping his hands in his lap again. "Back when he had a voice, that is. I used to meet with him every evening and he would sing to me, old songs about old heroes. I used to talk to him for hours, about everything."
Jason's jaw jumps as it clenches. His eyes narrowing. "So why won't you let me be with him? Because you're jealous that he doesn't love you anymore?"
Luke shakes his head with a laugh. "Of course that isn't it. I just know what that murderous beast is capable of, that's all, and I don't wish for you to die, stupid, annoying American aside." Jason slumps in his seat.
"But he doesn't want to hurt me. He just doesn't want to be lonely anymore! He's trapped here against his will and he can't get out! It really isn't his fault!" Jason yells defensively.
Luke shakes his head. "I told you yesterday, this is his hunting ground and he doesn't want to share it with anyone. He'll kill any other merman to come too close to his territory."
"He doesn't want to drown anyone," Jason continues stubbornly. "You're still here, aren't you? I don't see you dead and floating in that lake."
"He tried to kill me. One night when I was meeting with him, I told him that I would meet with him the following day, but he pulled me from the rock that I was sitting on and dragged me under. If Mother hadn't been there, then he would have killed me like he did that thousands of others that he'd lured already."
"So that scar on his chest ...?" Jason asks and Luke nods. "Well no wonder he tried to kill you, if you keep trying to kill him, too!"
Luke arches an eyebrow and sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose with thumb and forefinger, pulling the cross from his hair and letting it fall down across his left eye. "I said what I had to say, he sighs. I'm going to bed. You should, too."
Jason nods stiffly and lays down awkwardly on the couch.
It's the middle of the night and the moon is high in the centre of the sky. Jason carefully unlocks the door with the key that he had taken out of his pants pocket, slipping outside and shutting the the door behind him again.
He doesn't have a cloak with him, so he keeps to the shadows as much as possible, walking slowly until he was deep enough in the woods to allow his guard to drop. He begins to run, not stopping until he's slipping on the sand that shines in the sultry light of the moon.
"Caspian? Caspian are you awake?" Jason calls, hoisting himself onto the rock and looking out into the water that's still and smooth as glass. There's no movement from within and Jason sits dejectedly on the wet moss, grabbing a loose stone and chucking it into the water out of irritation.
He's about to get up and jump in to find Caspian for himself when a silvery head appears over the surface, and Caspian approaches him slowly, holding his arms for Jason to lift him up and onto the rock. Jason quickly obliges him, and sits back to admire the silver form in the moonlight, shining in the milky light. The scar on his chest seems to be even whiter and more prominent in such light.
Jason traces it and Caspian stares at him. "He did this, didn't he? Luke. He tried to kill you didn't he?" Jason whispers and Caspian shrugs, licking his lips and pulling Jason down for another salty kiss.
He grabs the pad of paper again and scribbles something that Jason has trouble making out in the lack of proper lighting.
Will you come with me?
"Yes. Yes, I'll come with you," Jason nods, picking Caspian up and cradling him up to his chest as he slips into the water, wading up until the water is up his chest and Caspian slips from his grasp, swimming around him with the same fluid, powerful movements of before, grabbing his wrist and pulling him along.
Jason takes a breath of air and follows the merman down taking the smaller hand in his and allowing him to lead the way down. The water gets darker and darker, and eventually Jason closes his eyes, not wanting to keep straining them in the dark. Caspian's lips are back on his and the air is expelled from his lungs as the powerful tail wraps loosely around his legs again. Jason lets his hand settle back on the merman's waist, feeling the muscles beneath his hands as they keep going deeper and deeper.
The water is deep and dark, but the world around Jason suddenly goes darker.
This was extremely fun to write. I hope you had half as much fun reading it as I had writing it. I did take a few liberties over the legend of the mermaid, like the whole kissing thing, I don't really know if their kisses are enchanted, but that can't be helped.
Read and Review? Please?