Above High Waters

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Chapter 8

Ryan wasn’t back yet.

That was the thought in Omi’s mind two hours after Ryan left, and it was still the same thought in his mind nine hours later. The merman was starting to worry, but he couldn’t figure out how to get out of the apartment. He walked about, getting lost in the small apartment as he explored the space.

He was naked and cold, but that didn’t convince him to go back into the pool. He has been going in and out of it for the past few hours, but it was too small, and he had grown tired of sitting in it after waiting for hours.

There were many things. So many things Omi couldn’t understand the use off. She kept himself occupied in order not to panic. He examined things and tried to figure out what they were used for. He had concluded that the pile of material standing on wood was the human’s nest. That’s where he had slept last night. Omi had tried to make his own human nest with the materials he found inside the human’s closet. He’d piled the clothes and bedsheets in the center of the living room, but when he laid down on it. The material stuck to his wet skin, and the experience was overall uncomfortable, so Omi gave up.

He kept walking around the house, snacking on the bowl of smoked fish Ryan had left out for him. When it was all finished he tried to open the big white container the human had taken it out from, but he couldn’t figure out how to open it, so he left it alone and wandered away. He’d watched Ryan turn on taps yesterday evening and this morning, so he knew those pipes were tiny holes to draw water.

He kept wondering back to them. The one in the kitchen and the ones in the bathroom of Ryan’s room. He turned one on by mistake and panicked but got it to turn off before the tub of water could overflow and flood the bathroom.

The merman eventually settled with curling up in Ryan’s nest. His eyes closed as he tried not to worry.

---

“What in the world...” Those were the words that left the marine’s biologist’s lips when he walked into the living room for his apartment. There was water everywhere, the pool he’d left the merman in was empty, and there were clothes littered on the floor.

For hot minute Ryan thought the merman had left. Although the rational part of his mind knew that that wasn’t possible. The doors were locked, and it wasn’t as if the merman would jump from the balcony.

With some quick strides, Ryan made it to his kitchen island. He dropped the books his friend had lent him, as well as the bag of food he’d promised to get for Omi. he took a deep breath, pushing back his hair with his hand before he made his way to his bedroom. A sigh of relief left his lips when he spotted the man on his bed — his eyes closed and chest rising and falling with his breath.

Ryan walked over, taking a seat on the edge of the bed before looking down at the merman and reaching out to push the creature’s brown locks from his face. He was naked, and the area around him felt a little damp. He’d probably been moving in and out of the pool of water in the living room. That would explain the trail of water and the damp carpet in the hallway.

“Hey, wake up,” Ryan said in a small whisper as he shook the merman by the shoulder. Omi’s nose scrunched up as he yawned and turned to his back. His eyes went open, and soon Ryan was staring at the orange eyes freckled with gold and brows.

“Ry?” the merman muttered. He could almost not believe the human was there. He thought Ry had left and was never coming back. He’d been worried sick, Ryan smiled, reaching out to run his hand through the merman’s hair. The creature did that weird purring thing from before — deep and low in his throat.

“Miss you,” Omi said as he sat up, scooting over so that he could wrap his hand around Ryan. The biologist didn’t really appreciate the wet man clinging to him, but he endured it, letting Omi stay glued to him as he made those low noises in his throat.

“I got something for you,” Ryan said, making Omi stiffen.

“Fish?” Omi asked, pulling away as his eyes went wide.

“Yes,” Ryan smiled, getting up and gesturing to Omi to follow him out of the room.

He made Omi sit at the table before going over to the bags he brought back home with him. He’d gotten mostly seafood. Kelp, seaweed and a few fish, shellfish and clams. The kitchen was silent as he took out the oysters, pouring them into a bowl before heating them in the microwave. Ryan figured merpeople didn’t cook and it wouldn’t matter if he just heated the seafood he had gotten.

“Hey,” Ryan said when he set the timer, looking over at Omi who was staring straight at him. Ryan looked away, feeling his face flush a bit. He still couldn’t get over the merman’s eyes and good looks. If Omi was a human and didn’t have the speech pattern of a three-year-old child he’d the type of person Ryan hit things off with at the bar.

“About helping with the water,” Ryan started, making to sit across from Omi on the wooden table. The merman’s eyes seemed to be trying to choose what to focus on between Ryan and the microwave. Ryan laughed, shaking his head. “We’ll have to go to the beach tomorrow. I have to take some samples and I need your help figuring things out—” Ryan was saying before he paused, realizing that Omi was having a hard time following his words.

“We’re going to the water tomorrow,” Ryan clarified, making Omi smile a bit. Great, he understands! Ryan thought, looking down at the table as he drummed the tip of his fingers on its wooden surface. He was tired, so unbelievably tired, but he was also excited. Less than three days ago he was just about ready to give up on his research and call it quits but having Omi request for such an out of pocket and probably impossible to accomplish thing had Ryan’s brain gearing up again to research and think.

“Fish,” Omi said, pulling Ryan out of his thoughts. The human turned over, realizing the microwave had stopped spinning and the oysters were ready. Ryan laughed, shaking his head as he got up from his seat to head to the microwave.

“You’re smart, aren’t you?”

“Smart?” Omi asked as a confused frown formed on his face.

“Like clever,” Ryan said and Omi muttered and oh before nodding with a smile. Ah, he likes compliments. Ryan thought as a grin took form on his face. He took out the bowl of oysters, putting it on the counter to cool for a bit so that Omi wouldn’t hurt himself trying to eat the hot food. he looked on at the merman, noticing that his pale skin was lightly freckled for the first time. They suited Omi’s boyish looks.

“Can I ask you a question?” Ryan asked as curiosity took over him as he looked on at the merman. Omi nodded, making Ryan let out a sigh before he made to talk.

“How did you get here. I mean, how did you get legs?” Ryan asked. “Do all merpeople have legs?” he added, trying to kill two birds with one stone.

“Magic,” Omi said in a high voice like it was the most obvious thing in the world, and Ryan almost broke down laughing.

Magic? He thought. All this is just a cruel prank it has to me. I must be dreaming. He thought. It was one thing to believe that there were creatures that were half fish, half human, and it was another thing to believe that magic had something to do with this. Ryan held himself, not wanting to laugh and confuse Omi, so instead, he turned away, grabbing the plate of warm oysters before heading over and setting it before Omi.

The merman seemed to forget the conversation they were having prior and concentrated on the oyster shells in front of him, sucking out the goo and licking his fingers.

Ryan thought he looked ridiculous but in a cute way.

He rested his head on his hand as he watched the merman eat, his mind drifting into other things. He still needed to get Omi clothes, and maybe teach him how to clean up after himself considering the mess he’d made when he was away. There was also a communication problem. Ryan wondered if he could teach him more words to use.

We’ll see. He thought, remembering the dolphin training manual that was part of the books his colleague had lent him. He wasn’t sure anything in it would be useful, but he would give it a go.

When Omi was done eating the oysters Ryan washed out the plates and helped Omi with his hands. He changed the bedsheets of his bed and cleaned up around the living room, deciding that he would take care of the rest of the mess in the morning. He set up the pool again, but Omi didn’t seem interested in getting in. The man just followed Ryan behind stark naked. It was beginning to make Ryan uncomfortable.

“I’m going to bed, you should go to bed too,” Ryan said when Omi tried to follow him into his room. The merman looked confused, but Ryan shut the door behind him anyway and made a beeline for the bathroom. He groaned when he got in, noticing the mess Omi had made. The sink and bath were filled with water, and the rag on the floor was soaking wet. As Ryan cleaned up his annoyance disappeared and instead, fond laughter left his lips when he let himself think about Omi.

It was strange. A creature with the body of a full grown man was walking around his apartment stark naked. This was a wild stretch even for fiction, he couldn’t believe it was happening, and it was sort of funny. Well, as funny as it could be. After taking a shower he grabbed a towel to dry his hair and walked out into his bedroom with the towel wrapped around his head.

“Okay, I’ll have to check how the tides will be tomorrow to know how long we’ll be there,” Ryan said to himself as he closed the bathroom door behind him. He hadn’t expected anyone to answer him and when he heard a small hum he froze, turning to find Omi sitting on his bed. Omi stared at him, and he stared right back at Omi before blinking and moving to wrap his towel around his waist when it dawned on him that he was still naked. His face grew warm as his wet hair dripped water to the carpet. He thought he had told Omi to go to bed.

“You’re not going to sleep?” Ryan asked, finally getting over his shock and talk. Omi looked down at the bed, playing with his fingers as he as scolded.

“Sleep together?” the merman asked looking back up at Ryan with wide innocent eyes.

Jesus Christ. Ryan scolded himself as his mind immediately went to the gutter. The merman obviously meant staying in his bed, not sleeping with him. Ryan wondered what was wrong with him today. Maybe it’s because he got a long good look at Omi after coming out of shock regarding the whole experience up till now. Omi was good looking, and of course, he’s been walking around naked for a good chunk of time. It made sense that Ryan’s mind would wonder. He did swing that way, and there was, in fact, a handsome man in front of him.

He’s part fish. Ryan reminded himself, but that clarification didn’t do anything to ease his wandering thoughts. In fact, he started justifying it by addressing that he was part some sort of dolphin, so at least a mammal.

“Okay, sure,” Ryan said, trying to convince himself that he wasn’t shocked out of his mind. Omi smiled before lying down on the bed. Ryan could only make it into a pair of long Pajama trousers before crawling into bed. The merman didn’t sleep on the other end like he had expected him too. The creature scooted closer, throwing his hand over Ryan’s stomach as he nestled his brown hair into Ryan’s neck. His face scratched Ryan’s dark beard a bit, and the man was too uncomfortable to sleep.

Somewhere along the line, Omi slept off and Ryan was able to undo his grip on him. The biologist came down from the bed before leaving the room and heading for the study. He couldn’t sleep, so he took the time to clean up around the house and prepare for leaving to collect samples with Omi tomorrow. He also had to scavenge his research from the past few years to see if anything at all could help them.

He was in his office now, flipping pages and drinking coffee as he tried to keep awake. A lot of things still didn’t make sense to him, but he was willing to try his best. As Ryan read through his notes under the white light of the fluorescence bulb in his study, he wondered if he was taking something a lot more than he could handle.

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