Chapter 10: Bitter Seas
Maybe it was because Sam was usually smiling and laughing and just generally acting like the happiest person Kyle had ever met, or maybe it was just because Kyle was paying close attention to the young merman, but whatever the case may have been it was obvious that Sam was upset. More specifically, he was upset with Kyle. Of course, Kyle had apologized to Sam for forgetting to call, and the merman had said it was fine, but it was blatantly clear that it wasn't. It was evident in the way Sam didn't strike a conversation and the manner in which he answered when Kyle spoke to him.
For most of the night, Kyle let Sam do as he pleased as long as it helped him get back to his usual happy self. Sure, he missed the normal greeting from the redhead(mostly the hug, though he wouldn't admit it), and the happy chatter that would cut through the silence, but he could deal with missing them for a night, maybe even two if Sam was that upset. He doubted it though, because Sam didn't seem like the type to hold a grudge. The one thing he couldn't stand, however, was when the merman stood to head to bed and said goodnight to Charlie, and only to Charlie. Kyle was, apparently, below the level of his lazy cat, and that was more than his pride could take.
"Sam, I said I was sorry," he said before he could leave, and the redhead stopped and turned to Kyle.
"I know, I said it was fine," Sam said simply, but Kyle wasn't buying it.
"You just said goodnight to a cat, Sam. A cat. And I didn't even get so much as a glance," and Kyle admitted that he was being childish because he was fighting with an animal over Sam's affection, but he didn't like Sam being mad at him.
"Oh, goodnight then," Sam said flatly, and then walked into his room and shut the door before Kyle could say anything else. With a tired sigh, Kyle sank back onto the couch, shooting a glare in his cat's direction.
"He only likes you because he thinks you're cute," he told the animal, and then, as if to mock Kyle, the cat jumped off the couch and headed straight to Sam's door. He pawed at it for only a moment before the door was cracked open for long enough to allow him entry before being shut once more. Kyle had to admit, he was pretty insulted after that.
The next morning wasn't much better, because Sam was sneaking back into his room with a bowl of cereal, still in his pajamas and clearly trying to avoid Kyle. For his part, the man could only stare blankly from the doorway of his room. He sighed and ended up eating cereal as well because he couldn't bring himself to put in the effort to cook breakfast if he was the only one who would be eating it. Sam didn't appear before him until he was about to head to class, and even then the merman could only stand there and stare at the floor.
"Kyle, um, have a good day," Sam said hesitantly and Kyle just stared at him for a moment before ruffling his hair.
"Alright Sam, I'll try to get home early, okay?" he said, smiling a bit and getting a nod and a smile from Sam.
He felt a bit better after that, maybe because he could at least be sure that Sam didn't hate him. It definitely made it easier to concentrate at school.
Kyle was tired when he finally got out of school, but at least he didn't have any reason to stay for any longer, so he called Sam and headed home, laughing at how happy the merman sounded over the phone. It always amused him how easily he could make Sam happy, but it also made him wonder sometimes if Sam was really content with the way things were.
Unlike the previous night, Kyle was received with the usual hug and cheerful greeting. He laughed and rustled Sam's hair, the soft red strands sliding smoothly through his fingers. Kyle thought it felt nice enough to just run his hand through Sam's hair that he kind of wished he could do it more often.
"Kyle!" Sam called, snapping the man out of his thoughts. When he looked down at the merman's face, he was pouting up at him.
"Why are you ignoring me?" the redhead asked, brow furrowed and mouth set in a frown.
"I wasn't," Kyle hurried to say, because Sam had just stopped being mad at him. "I'm just a bit tired, Sam. Now, what were you saying?" Sam huffed, but seemed to accept his excuse.
"I was just asking what's in the bag," he said, pointing to the plastic bag Kyle was holding.
"Oh, I stopped to get some cake, I thought you might like it," it was a pathetic attempt to get back on Sam's good side, Kyle would later admit, but it seemed to work well enough. Sam lit up, smiling widely at the mention of the food he loved so much.
Kyle had learned that the merman had a sweet tooth, maybe it was because sweets weren't something one came upon while living in the sea, or maybe it was just that Sam loved to make things difficult for Kyle and had decided that the one type of food that was most likely to make him sick was his favorite. Whatever the case, he liked sweets and if it made him less mad at him then by God, Kyle would get him the damn sweets.
"What kind?" he asked excitedly.
"I got different kinds," Kyle said, walking over to the kitchen and setting the bag down on the table. He took out the pink pastry box, but had to lift it over his head when Sam reached over to take it.
"After dinner, Sam," he said, and the merman pouted but accepted in the end and Kyle sent him off to watch some television while he made dinner.
The night went well enough, Sam hurried to eat his dinner just so he could get some cake, and Kyle tried to make sure he didn't eat all of it, but it was a good night. After the dishes were done and Kyle had found a movie Sam hadn't seen(which was getting harder everyday) they settled on the couch, though Kyle had to struggle to get a spot on it because Sam had decided to occupy most of the space. He sighed tiredly and looked down at the merman half lying on him.
"Really Sam?" he said in disbelief.
"I had the couch first," Sam pointed out, and then scooted over when Charlie jumped onto the couch.
"Oh, I see, Charlie gets a reserved spot, but I have to fight for a tiny corner of the couch," Kyle huffed.
"Charlie doesn't take much space, plus he's warm," Sam argued, petting the cat who rubbed his head against Sam affectionately.
"If you're cold get a blanket," Kyle deadpanned.
"Don't wanna," Sam said, turning his attention to the movie(and he didn't want to think about the way he shamelessly fooled the man just to be closer to him).
"You're impossible," Kyle sighed, but he sat back and let Sam remain where he was.
It was nice, Kyle thought, to be able to relax like that and just watch some movies. Maybe it was because he wasn't alone, but Kyle thought it was a lot more enjoyable than usual, even if Sam didn't say anything, too entranced in the movie. At least it was better than sitting on the couch on his own, flipping through the channels before getting bored and going to bed. When Kyle really thought about it, the whole thing sounded kind of depressing.
Sam fell asleep near the end of the movie, and Kyle was too lazy to move the merman off of him, so he just sat there on the couch and absentmindedly ran his fingers through Sam's hair. It always amazed Kyle how bright it a red it was, even at that time, with only the light from the television, it was so vibrant. Kyle sat there until the movie ended and the credits started rolling, yawning tiredly before carefully standing and picking Sam up off the couch. He took the merman to his room and set him down on the bed, covering him with the bedsheets and switching off the lights before he left.
He still needed to tell Sam he would be going out on Saturday, and to be honest, he wasn't looking forward to that conversation, but it wasn't something Kyle could avoid. In the end, he resolved to just wait for a while longer before telling Sam, hoping he'd come up with a good way of letting the merman know.
It was Friday night and Kyle still hadn't told Sam about his date with Lisa.
He had no idea why he was having so much trouble telling him. Maybe it was just because he knew the merman wouldn't want to be left alone on a day he knew Kyle had no classes, but Kyle just hadn't been able to tell Sam. He was getting pretty desperate because every time he thought he was ready to tell him, Sam would smile at him and ask him about what they would do on the weekend and Kyle would end up promising to take him to the damn amusement park. After that, I was practically impossible to say anything about his date with Lisa because Sam just looked too happy.
'Desperate times call for desperate measures,' he thought, standing in front of his neighbor's door.
Betty was surprised to see Kyle standing in her doorway because even thought they got along, the young man had never been one for spontaneous visits. It was only to be expected that she would look at him in suspicion, eyebrow quirked and ready for anything. This was, after all, the man who had let a merman move in with him, so Betty wasn't sure what to expect anymore.
"Hey Betty," Kyle greeted. "I was wondering if you still wanted to go out with Sam for a while," and even after trying to prepare herself, that was pretty unexpected. With how protective Kyle was of the merman, Betty hadn't thought he'd ever let her take Sam out on her own.
"Yeah, why?" she asked, casting a suspicious eye on her neighbor. As much as she wanted to show Sam around on her own, she wasn't dense enough to think Kyle would just let her do it without a reason.
"I just thought it would be nice, and Sam would probably enjoy it," Kyle said casually.
"Uh huh, what's the catch?" she asked flatly.
"There's no catch," Kyle answered, with only a slight narrowing of his eyes. Betty rolled her eyes at the man because he'd never been able to lie too well.
"Seriously Kyle, I'd love to take Sam somewhere fun, but you offering to let me purely out of the goodness of your heart isn't very believable. So, what's the deal?" Kyle glared, probably irritated that he'd been found out, but he should have known better. He was dealing with Betty, after all.
"Okay, so maybe it's not just for the hell of it," he grumbled. "Listen, I have something to do tomorrow, and I don't think Sam will appreciate being home alone on his own when he knows I don't have class, so I thought maybe he'd like to go out with you instead," he explained with a shrug.
"Really? And what's so important that you'd let me take your precious little mermaid out to the dangerous city?" Betty asked, sarcasm dripping from her voice. Kyle actually rolled his eyes, but didn't bother to argue with Betty's phrasing, knowing it would do no good.
"If you must know, I'm going out with a friend tomorrow," he said, and Betty looked genuinely surprised.
"Yes seriously, why is it so hard for you to believe?" and Kyle was a bit insulted.
"Well, you're not the most social person," Betty shrugged. "So what are you doing?" and Kyle didn't think there was any harm in telling the girl.
"Just watching a movie and getting some lunch," Kyle told her.
"So why don't you take Sam with you, I bet he'd like to go," Betty said.
"Maybe some other time," Kyle answered shortly, not wanting to tell Betty about Lisa. "So, do you want to hang out with Sam or not?"
"Sure, what time will he be ready to go?"
"I'll bring him over at around nine, you can show him around for the rest of the day, just please bring him back before it gets dark," Kyle said, relieved that Betty had agreed. Now he just had to tell Sam.
As it turned out, that wasn't very easy to do.
"Why aren't you going too?" that was the first thing Sam asked when Kyle told him Betty would be taking him out on the town the next day.
"I have some things to do tomorrow," Kyle answered, sitting on the couch next to Sam.
"Oh, is it for school?" asked the merman, still sounding disappointed.
"Well, not really," and Kyle would later ask himself why he hadn't just lied.
"Then how come you can't go with us?" Sam asked again, brow furrowing.
"Because, I promised someone I'd go out with them tomorrow," Kyle said, still not sure why he didn't just tell Sam he had a date. He'd already decided it didn't matter, that it was the best thing for the both of them, because Kyle still needed to get on with is own life.
"But you promised we'd do something on the weekend," Sam argued.
"We will, just not tomorrow, we'll do something on Sunday," he said, but Sam still didn't look too happy.
"But you promised me first," Sam insisted, obviously upset. "You said we'd go out the whole weekend," and Kyle had forgotten that little detail, but there was no fixing it then.
"You'll still go out tomorrow, Sam, just with Betty. You like Betty, right?" he tried, a bit desperate.
"I do, but I like you more!" Sam said, cheeks red and Kyle felt his heart beat a bit faster at the merman's words. He took a moment to recover before speaking.
"Sam, it's just one day. You have to understand, even with you here there are other people that I call my friends and I need to spend time with them too. One day you'll go back to the sea, but those people will still be here, and I'd like to still be friends with them at that time. There are other people in my life apart from you," Kyle tried to explain, but he was getting frustrated, because as much as he liked Sam the merman needed to understand that he was only there for a while, and once he left Kyle would have to be able to return to his previous life.
Sam, however, wasn't taking it very well, because he looked even more upset than he had moments earlier and Kyle was genuinely afraid that the merman would end up crying. Instead of that, however, Sam stood and stared at Kyle, blue eyes looking hurt and much too watery for the man's liking.
"Well, I'm sorry I'm getting in the way, but if you didn't want me here anymore you could have just said so," the redhead said, before going to his room. Kyle stayed seated on the couch for a while, surprised at the merman's outburst, before letting out a tired sigh.
He was thinking of how best to deal with Sam when someone knocked on his door. Grudgingly, he stood to see who it was, already guessing it would be his neighbor. Just as he had thought, Betty stood in his doorway when the door opened. She was holding a tray of cupcakes, neatly frosted with sprinkles and with a delicious scent emanating from them.
"Hey Kyle, I made a few extras for you and Sam," Betty said, holding out the cupcakes.
"Oh, thanks Betty," the young man said, taking them and hoping the girl would just leave. "I'll tell Sam you dropped them off," but of course, Betty wouldn't go that easily.
"Can I talk to Sam? I want to ask him where he wants to go tomorrow," she said, trying to peek around Kyle, who was doing his best to block the girl from entering.
"Betty, I'm sure he'll be happy no matter where you take him," Kyle told the girl.
"Well I just want to see if there's any place he prefers," Betty insisted. "It'll just take a minute," and finally, she managed to duck under Kyle's arm and into the man's home.
"Sam!" Betty called, looking around. She frowned when she got no response and went over to the merman's room to knock on the door.
"Betty, leave him alone," Kyle said, hurrying over to the girl, cupcakes forgotten on the kitchen table. For a moment, it looked like Betty was about to say something, but she stopped when there was a soft sniffling from Sam's room. Kyle felt his heart drop and Betty turned slowly to the man, eyes narrowed.
"What did you do!" she hissed at the man.
"I didn't do anything!" Kyle lied. "Sam's just upset because I told him he's going out with you tomorrow instead of with me," he explained.
"Well, did you tell him you'd be the one going out with him?" Betty questioned, and Kyle hesitated.
"Uh, maybe, but that was last week!" he defended himself. "And besides, I'm still taking him out on Sunday. He has to understand that I have other friends," the young man tried to excuse himself.
"I've never seen you with any friends! Who are you going out with tomorrow anyway?" Betty asked suspiciously, and Kyle averted his gaze, rubbing the back of his head.
"Just Lisa," he muttered.
"Lisa? As in, Lisa, the girl who used to come here last year to work on a 'school project'," Betty questioned, incredulous.
"Yes, that Lisa, and what the hell's up with the air quotes, we really were working on a project," Kyle said, glaring slightly.
"Whatever," Betty huffed impatiently. "The point is, you didn't say you wanted me to entertain Sam while you went out on a date, you jerk!" she snapped.
"It's not a date!" Kyle hurried to say, glancing nervously at Sam's door. He grabbed Betty and pulled her away from the merman's room.
"You're going out with a girl to the movies, it's a date Kyle! Ugh! I can't believe you!" she huffed, arms crossed and eyes shooting daggers at the man.
"Okay, whatever, it's a date. What does that matter? I mean, it's just one day and I'm still taking him out on Sunday," he argued.
"That doesn't matter, you promised Sam you'd spend the weekend with him and now you're breaking that promise," Betty tried to explain, using all the patience she could gather, because her neighbor was being an idiot. Kyle sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, frustrated and feeling absolutely horrible about upsetting Sam so much.
"Well, what am I supposed to do now?" he asked Betty, a bit desperate for advice.
"That's something you have to think up for yourself, stupid," Betty said frankly. "So, have fun with that!" and then she turned and headed for the door.
"Hey, wait, you're still taking Sam tomorrow right?" Kyle asked hurriedly, making Betty stop and turn to stare at the man.
"Really Kyle?" she asked incredulously.
"Please Betty, just for one day," and if he hadn't been practically begging her, she would have declined.
"Ugh! Fine!" she relented. "But you had better be nicer to Sam," and with that, she left.
Only to return a minute later and head straight for the cupcakes Kyle had left on the kitchen table. She glared up at the man, as she grabbed the tray.
"No cupcakes for you!" she said, sticking her tongue out at him before walking away.
Tiredly, Kyle trudged to the couch and sat back, wondering how he had gotten into so much trouble in the first place. He still felt bad about upsetting Sam, but he didn't know how to make it up to him, not after he'd made him feel so unwanted. Kyle went to bed that night fearing that Sam wouldn't be around the next day, even while he told himself that it didn't matter, that Sam was supposed to go home someday. Still, he couldn't help but hope that the young merman would still be around when he woke up.
Hello everyone, hope you've enjoyed this chapter and as always, thank you for reading. Thank you very much for the lovely comments and the adds, they make me very happy. As always, please comment if you get the chance and I hope you enjoy the rest of the story! I'll try to update soon.