It was night, the wind blowing down the dark alley and wrapping around the two men standing within. Both of the two men were human, one stood in the light coming from a street light on the road nearby, the other stood in the dark, almost trying to hide his face and expression from the first man. The human in the light had black hair and tanned skin which suggested in heritage being from one of the warmer zones of the world. His brown eyes looking at the second man with longing and sadness, both of their eyes damp.
"I'm sorry," Kenneth whispered, his voice trembling, holding back tears as he looked sorrowfully at the black haired man. His heart longed to be able to reach out to him and hug him close. "This was never meant to happen this way, Rico..."
Rico reached out to his lover with the same intent to hug Kenneth close to mend whatever had happened but Kenneth moved away, flinching as the tips of Rico's fingers brushed against him. The touch felt like it burned to him. Kenneth wanted for this to all go away and for him to be able to enjoy the touch of his love. He didn't want their relationship to end like this, not after everything they had been through together.
"Keni, I don't understand. Don't you love me anymore?" Rico asked giving Kenneth a heartbroken look which tore the man's heart deeply. Rico had always been the more expressive one in their relationship. He got it from his family who thought passion should be shown through being bold and daring. Kenneth was from a more reserved background, but they had worked well.
Kenneth felt his words turn to dust in his mouth as he looked into Rico's deep, hurt eyes, his heart aching at the sight. He had done this. It wasn't his fault but he had been the one to hurt his partner. Kenneth took another step backwards as Rico moved towards him.
"Rico, please don't make this harder than it has to be," begged Kenneth, glancing back and upwards at a clock tower in the road just beyond Rico. There was only so much time before it happened... He couldn't let Rico find out his secret, find out why they would not be together anymore.
Rico moved forward and grabbed Kenneth's forearm. Kenneth looked directly at his love, the two sharing a moment as they gazed into each other eyes. Kenneth unable to say a word, a tear rolling down his cheek. Rico leant down and pulled him close for a deep and passionate kiss. The kind which sent sparks flying through his body and make his heart beat fast. Kenneth felt his knees tremble as he melted into the loving gesture, wishing for the kiss never to end. Rico didn't let go of his arms but instead pressed their bodies together.
When Rico let go of him, he was breathless. Both of them breathing heavily from the intensity of the kiss. Kenneth could only look hopelessly up into the eyes of his lover, his chest hurting, tears steadily rolling down his cheeks now.
"Tell me that meant nothing to you!" Rico demanded, his eyes beginning to show anger in the sadness. "Tell me you felt nothing in that kiss and I'll let you go!" He hissed, Rico's own eyes threatening to begin to spill.
Kenneth let out a sound which was a bitter laugh caught in a hiccup. "It meant nothing to me," Kenneth chuckled with a fake smile, knowing Rico could hear the lie in his words. He could never lie to Rico, despite Kenneth being the lawyer in their relationship, the man had always seen through him. Through every wall, Kenneth had built to protect himself, through every defence. Rico had always looked straight through them and directly at who he was underneath. It had been one of the things which had made Kenneth fall in love with the man when they first met. Rico hadn't been interested in the successful lawyer, he had been interested in the handsome man who liked to knit his spare time.
Rico laughed bitterly at the attempt, almost mirroring Kenneth's own laughter of pain, "You never could lie to me Keni." He shook his head, pressing their forehead's together. "Stop trying and just tell me the truth."
"I'm sorry, I really am but I have to go," Kenneth breathed, painfully aware of how dry his lips were at the moment. He tried to move out from Rico's grip, but Rico tightened his hands pressing Kenneth against a wall and pinning him in place. Kenneth could feel bruises forming on his arms.
"You're not leaving me without a reason Keni," Rico said seriously, anger in his voice.
Kenneth looked up into his lover's eyes, tears filling his own for a moment and the man blurred before it blinked the tears free. He went to speak but the words caught in his neck and only 0a sob came out. Kenneth shut his eyes tightly, trying to compose himself, only to find himself looking at his lover's chest as strong arms pulled him into a tight hug.
Rico kissed him on the head whispering "I'm sorry," in a soft mantra, having realised how much he was hurting the smaller man. Rocking the two of them back and forth as the two of them cried.
Kenneth leant into the embrace, wrapping his arms around Rico, knowing this would likely be the last time he could be like this with his beloved. Mentally Kenneth cursed everything which had led up to this, but mostly he cursed the merman who had been the main reason behind his suffering. Endotuer. Except it wasn't just Endotuer's fault, it was the whole mer secret council who had done this to him. Done this to him for the simple reason that he was a human had grown too successful.
"I'm sorry, come on," Rico breathed finally stopping his chorus of apologies, "Let's go home. Let's have a coffee and talk this all over," pleaded Rico, giving Kenneth a begging look, ready to get on his knees if that was what it would take to make the man stay with him.
Kenneth opened his mouth to reply but his words were deafened out by the sound of the clock ringing behind him. The loud thundering sounds echoing through the alleyway. It was midnight.
He had run out of time.
The blood in Kenneth's face drained away. He pulled away from Rico, adrenaline from the horror running through him giving him the strength need. "I'm sorry, I have to go," he said firmly, tears still running down his face as he began to run away from the man, but before he could get far, Rico caught him by the arm. He jerked as he was stopped, refusing to look back at Rico.
"Please don't go," Rico begged, the sound making Kenneth look at the man.
Kenneth felt his heart shatter at the sight of his stronger lover crying and the begging look in his eyes. He pulled Rico close for last one kiss. This one was bitter from the taste of the tears which were streaming down both of their faces.
"I love you, Rico," he murmured onto Rico's lips, "But we can't do this." He slammed his foot down on Rico's foot before running off into the night. Trying not to sob as he heard Rico's desperate calls for him not to go.
It was too late now. Kenneth could already feel the transformation starting to take place. He fell into a dark corner as it finally took over. He had done this several time now, but he still hadn't got used to feeling passing over him as his body morphed. It was like being hit by cold water. His arms melded into his sides, his legs fusing together and curling. His chin growing bigger at the same time as his body shrinking and his skin changed into scales. Even after the transformation, he stayed curled helplessly on the ground.
He whined softly, tears still falling despite his new form. The light reflected briefly on a piece of nearby metal. A seahorse now sobbing on the ground instead of a human man. The curse which had been placed on him by the mer high council was complete.
Pulling himself together for a moment, Kenneth forced himself to float in the air and pressed himself in a gap in the wall, hiding as he heard footsteps running behind him. His name being called frantically as Rico searched for him. He closed his eyes wishing it would stop. Wishing Rico would give up on him. There was nothing he could do for him now. Kenneth would never be a human in daylight again.
'Kenneth, you silly boy,' a familiar voice cut through his mind. Endotuer. Another brilliant side effect of this curse, his lord and master had a telepathic connection to him when he was nearby. Endotuer's voice sent chills down his spine. He was in trouble now and he knew it.
"Rico!" Endotuer called firmly, appearing in the alley, "What are you doing here so late? If you're not careful, the tide will come in." he warned.
"I found Kenneth," Rico declared, sobs still clear in his voice, though Kenneth could hear the man pulling himself together in face of a merman who was not really a friend to him. Rico did not know the truth about who Endotuer was, but during the week since this had all began the human had learned that there was more to the city than first met the eye.
"I see, what happened?" Endotuer's voice was strangely kind, sounding almost considerate to the human. Kenneth could feel Endotuer was actually annoyed though, not at Rico but at him. Endotuer did sympathise with the two humans' plight, but not enough to have helped Kenneth break the curse in time or tell Rico the truth. It was not Rico's fault Kenneth had become an annoyance to the council.
Rico's voice hitched. Kenneth screwed his eyes closed from where he was hiding. It hurt so much to hear the man in so much pain and be unable to do anything. "He...Kenneth left me. He said he couldn't see me again," Rico's voice was one of shock like it still hadn't quite hit him yet what that meant. "He said I won't see him again."
"I...," A wave of approval came from Endotuer, gentle but there, "I'm sorry Rico. I'm sure he has his reasons. You'll see him again, I'm sure." The mer reassured gently.
"I have a terrible feeling I won't. That man," Rico gave a bitter laugh, "He can't lie to me to save his life. The way he was saying goodbye, the look he had in his eyes. It was the look of someone who didn't want to do something but had no choice..." Rico trailed off, before letting out a sob, "I think I may have lost him for good."
Hearing Rico sounding so broken and desperate made Kenneth sob harder. How he wished he could wake up and it would all be a bad dream. That he could run and hug the man close and promise never to leave him. But he couldn't. Rico couldn't learn the truth about what had happened.
"I'm sorry to hear that Rico. Even so, it won't do you any good to kill yourself. The tide will be in soon. Go home and sleep. Maybe things can still work out," Endotuer crooned gently.
It was a lie. His 'owner' was good at those. The time in which things could be fixed had passed. Endotuer having taken an active role in preventing Kenneth from becoming truly human again. Kenneth was stuck like this forever, there was no way he could go back to living with his lover like before. Endotuer was simply saying the things you said to someone you knew but weren't close to after a breakup.
Something about that hurt Kenneth. The face Endotuer of all people was reassuring his lover that there was still a chance when he had made sure that there was none.
"I hope so. I was... God, I was ready to give him my name," the sadness in those words made Kenneth's heart shatter. He fell to the ground, unable to keep up the will to float in the air. He wasn't sure he could take anymore. There was a sound of movement as his master comforted Rico.
"It'll work out," Endotuer murmured gently.
"Thank you Endotuer, I'd better go. As you said tides soon." Rico sniffed.
"Good idea," Endotuer cooed, "Good night Rico. Sleep well."
"I don't think I will somehow," Rico whispered, followed by the sounds of footsteps as Rico walked away from the mer. Kenneth listening to them, knowing it would be last he heard of Rico now.
Endotuer remained in the alley, waiting until Rico was out of sight before turning to the area where Kenneth was hiding. "Kenneth, I know you're here," he said, in a tone far more gently and soft then Kenneth had ever heard him use before. "I'm not angry Kenneth, just come over here please."
Maybe it was that soft tone which made him do it. Maybe it was the fact the Merman had used his real name instead of the pet name he usually referred to him as. Maybe he had been Endotuer's pet for too long to resist following his orders. Either way, he forced himself to move into the light so the Merman could see him.
Endotuer's eyes were soft as he looked at Kenneth, seeing how the human turned sea horse was barely floating. He opened his arms, a silent invitation, but one Kenneth couldn't help accept. He flew into them, sobbing into Endotuer's shoulder, crowing softly in sadness. Endotuer's arms came around him, picking him up and cradling him close.
"Shush. Let it out you silly thing. This is why I didn't want you seeing him," Endotuer murmured slight pain in his own voice. "I'm sorry Kenneth." He pulled the seahorse close to him and carried the distraught creature home. As Kenneth curled up into his master warmth, he couldn't help but wonder how this happened? How had he lost the love of his life? How had he become a pet? Why with all that had happened, why couldn't he hate Endotuer?"
Endotuer smiled as he opened his eyes, looking at the sage pleased. The others in the room smiled slowly with him, clearly pleased with the fact Endoture had liked the view into the future.
"Kenneth will fail," Endotuer grinned.
"Then he will be yours," One of the others said.
"Just remember, My Lord, the future can change. You will still have to be careful," warned the sage. "But here," he passed a bottle over. "The magic you will need to pull this off."
Endotuer took it and nodded. "I will be careful," he promised.