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Fathoms Below


When stumbling home from a party one night, the last thing Makoto expects is to rescue an injured merman. An inexplicable attraction leads to a romance seemingly doomed from the start.

Fantasy / Romance
5.0 2 reviews
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

Hazuki Nagisa had always been fond of throwing parties, but even more than that he liked to drag his friends along with him to parties hosted by others. The habit only became worse once he’d joined a fraternity and there were events to attend nearly every other weekend.

Tachibana Makoto learned the hard way to not even bother making excuses to get out of it. It didn’t matter that he wasn’t a fan of alcohol, or that being around an intoxicated mass of their peers made him uncomfortable. Once Nagisa made a plan, it was impossible for Makoto to talk his way out of it – it had been that way ever since they were kids, and even if Nagisa wouldn’t care, Makoto didn’t think he could leave the boy he’d grown up with, come to view as a little brother, unattended with a bunch of wasted Frat boys just waiting to pour alcohol down any innocent first year’s throat.

At first it hadn’t been so bad. He’d exchanged pleasantries with some classmates he didn’t see as often, accepted a drink from the party’s host, flirted a little with some sorority girls, and made empty promises to Nagisa’s Frat brothers about rushing next semester.

An hour turned into two, and the fraternity’s vow to get all new pledges shitfaced seemed well on its way to being fulfilled. Despite his smaller size, Nagisa held his alcohol like a champ, and it served an endless source of amusement for his new brothers. They urged more shots into his hands and Nagisa laughed and tossed them back without batting an eyelash.

The sight made Makoto’s stomach churn, and in the back of his mind surfaced a niggling worry about alcohol poisoning. His overprotective tendencies had earned him the nickname ‘Mama-Mako’ a long time ago, and he forced himself away from the sight before he could do anything embarrassing like pull Nagisa away and make him eat something to curb the inevitable sickness.

A short distance away, a bonfire crackled. A small group danced around it to the pounding bass of a portable stereo. Others gathered in clusters, passing gossip back and forth along with their cans of beer. Two sorority girls attempted karaoke, to a chorus of sniggers and catcalls from their gathered audience.

It was as good a chance as any to sneak away.

He’d gone along with Nagisa’s wishes by showing up, and thus Nagisa couldn’t accuse Makoto of being antisocial. Most likely Nagisa hitch a ride with one of his new Brothers and crash at their place, but just in case Makoto checked the volume settings on his cell as he meandered over the harsh rocks separating the lavish house from the soft beach sands.

He walked. This far south, not much land separated one side of the island from the other. It was something he both liked and disliked about Iwatobi. Small-town living suited him just fine, but it annoyed him to no end how even when he neared the docks by his own apartment he could still hear the thump of bad hip-hop.

He heard the scream first, but it was the proceeding eerie silence that spurred Makoto into action. Sand flung up in the wake of his feet as he ran as fast as he could manage toward the dock. Water from the high tide lapped at the cuffs of his jeans as he came to a sliding halt, his green eyes impossibly wide at the sight before him.

Maybe he was more of a lightweight than he’d originally thought. There was no other way he could believe what he was seeing.

It had to be a trick, his imagination running away with him, because there was that long, shimmering tail that curled and thrashed in the water, and attached to it, a young – man? – moaning in pain.

Makoto fought to remember how to breathe, and it took longer than he would care to admit for his brain to regain enough sensibility to call the rest of his body into action. When he’d recovered at least his basic motor skills, Makoto stumbled closer. His legs were like lead weights, unwilling to move with any coordination. Makoto wasn't sure when, but the tail - which he now recognized had been thrashing from the tear leaking blood around the body - had somehow split up where it met the abdomen, almost shedding like skin, though Makoto couldn't see any fleshy or bloody remnants.

There was certainly a distressing amount of blood. If nothing else, it tinted the surrounding water and stained the sand around the body. If Makoto didn’t do something, it would soon attract undesirable attention. Iwatobi Harbor already had a problem with sharks; the last thing he wanted was for his favorite beach to become their new territory.

He lurched forward – then stopped himself, scrubbed at his eyes vigorously, and looked again.

Had he imagined the wound? No, it had definitely been there!

But it wasn’t there anymore. Just smooth, pearlescent skin leading down to azure scales, entirely unblemished but still spotted with blood. Makoto hoped he’d imagined the tail too, but it continued to beat against the waves, dispelling all common sense.

The creature cried out again, his fingers digging into the sand, and startled Makoto into action. He quickly scooped the creature up into his arms, mindful of each little wince and gasp of pain and trying not to jostle the body too badly. Once he had a secure hold, Makoto dashed back up the beach, away from the water. Blood from the unknown wound seeped into his crisp white shirt, but Makoto hardly noticed.

"Come on, let’s get you home."

Everything's going to be all right.

Makoto repeated the mantra to himself as he inhaled one deep breath after another and tried to keep the world from spinning out of focus. Everything's going to be all right.

It didn't work, just like the last attempt to calm his nerves hadn't worked, because how could he do anything but freak out when there was, for lack of a better term, a merman currently unconscious in his bathtub?

This was the furthest thing from all right.

At least he no longer lived with his parents.

Makoto physically shook himself, and then smacked the sides of his face for good measure. He had to keep it together. If he couldn't even get a hold of himself, how on earth could he be expected to nurse a merman back to health?

He used the term 'merman' loosely. With the absence of breasts on the shallow chest, Makoto could only assume the creature was male, although a lack of visible genitalia made it impossible to confirm that.

As Makoto performed a cursory check of the body – unearthing no obvious injury, giving him no choice but to believe the slash in the tail nothing more than a product of his imagination –the merman shifted in the tub, a soft series of clicks resounding from the back of his throat. Makoto froze, eyes darting up to the youthful face as he wondered for possibly the thousandth time what he'd gotten himself into. Handling the unconscious merman had been one thing, and terrifying enough in its own right, but he hadn't even considered what he'd do once the creature awoke.

Blame it on too many movies and fantasy novels, but some part of him honestly assumed the merman would know how to speak like a human being. Now his face flushed as he realized how absolutely ridiculous a notion that was. Mermaids lived in the ocean; of course their way of communicating would be different – more like the language of whales or dolphins than man.

The merman's eyes cracked open, and Makoto's thought process stalled at the vibrant shade of blue peeking out beneath dark lashes. They were like small oceans themselves, those eyes, and for the first time in his life, rather than afraid, Makoto itched to dive in.

Until a trill of panic reached his ears and he instinctively jerked back, at a loss to do anything but watch the merman thrash mindlessly in the narrow pool of water.

The sight of him scrambling for purchase on the smooth porcelain tub stirred Makoto back into action. Cautiously he approached, guilt weighing heavily on his heart as the merman's frightened eyes locked onto his briefly.

"Hey," he whispered, trying for the most soothing voice he could manage.

The merman tilted his head back, mouth opening slightly to reveal a neat little row of pointy teeth before closing to release a particularly distressed whistle.

Makoto hesitated at the thought of those teeth chomping down on him, but no battle had ever been won without a certain amount of risk. Steeling himself, he settled his hands gently on the merman – one on his shoulder and another in his silken black hair. "You're okay. I promise, I'm not going to hurt you."

He made faint, cooing sounds as he brushed the hair back, and slowly but surely the merman stopped moving altogether. Makoto kept combing his fingers through his hair, letting several minutes pass in silence before easing back. The merman followed his movements cautiously until Makoto knelt beside the tub, and then the blue eyes began to travel about the rest of the room. When they found Makoto again they were significantly less guarded; he must have deemed the room safe enough.

Makoto smiled. "Hi," he said lamely.

The merman cocked his head to the side, opened his mouth, and then promptly snapped it shut again.

"I'm sorry I frightened you. I didn't mean to, I just—I didn't know what else to do." With a nervous laugh, Makoto scratched the back of his neck. "You looked like you were bleeding when I found you. I couldn't just leave you there..."

His voice trailed off when the merman opened his mouth again, releasing a soft, questioning hum that sounded like a suspicious parody of the word 'hi'.

Sighing, Makoto wracked his brain to come up with a way to explain the situation the merman might actually understand. Inspiration struck in the form of a game he used to play with his friends in elementary school. Makoto pointed to himself. "I," he began, and then held out his hands, "took a walk on the beach." He walked two fingers across the flat of his palm.

The merman leaned forward and grasped Makoto's wrist in a way that distinctly reminded him of the way his little sister had latched onto teething rings when she was still a baby.

"You have no idea what I'm saying, do you?"

The question garnered no reply – not that Makoto had honestly expected one. The merman busied himself with Makoto's hand, and Makoto couldn't help but laugh as his hand was turned this way and that, held up to the light and pushed down into the bath water. The noise died in his throat when the merman aligned their hands, iridescent, delicately webbed digits to his blunt, calloused fingers.

After a moment, and with a small amount of regret, Makoto freed his hand and rose to his feet. He needed to find the first aid kit, in case it turned out the merman really was injured somewhere.

As he moved over to the medicine cabinet, a series of clicks followed. Makoto glanced over his shoulder, amused by the wonder he saw reflected in those too-blue eyes. He took the first aid kit, a roll of bandages, and a small bottle of antiseptic over to the tub, and almost dropped it all when one of the merman's slender hands darted out to grab his ankle.

"What—what is it?"

It was stupid to ask questions – he knew the merman didn't comprehend – but the reaction had been automatic. Thankfully the merman didn't seem to exhibit any signs of pain, and he no longer looked afraid. The gleam in his eyes was curious more than anything, although Makoto detected a small amount of possessiveness in the way those spindly fingers curled against his skin. Or maybe he was just reading too much into things.

"Um—" Makoto shifted uncomfortably as the merman tugged insistently at his leg. "I can't get in the tub with you."

The merman blinked. His tail curved up only to slap back against the tile wall, sending a flurry of water droplets into the air. Blue eyes flickered between azure scales to Makoto's tanned skin before, slowly, the merman drew his fingers up Makoto’s leg. Makoto stiffened, a shiver chasing down his spine at the feather-light touch along his calf. He'd call it sensual if not for the childlike interest on the merman's face.

"Th-they're legs," he explained, as he politely attempted to step away from the merman's nosy fingers. The merman seemed to have taken special interest pushing his kneecap slightly to the side, clicking enthusiastically at the observation that the cartilage surrounding the bone allowed for such movement. "Nothing special. Not like that." He nodded to the long tail, which he'd been resisting the urge to explore in greater detail since he first made his discovery on the beach. "Well, I guess they would be special to you." He doubted the merman came across many pairs of legs in his lifetime.

The merman frowned and sat up straighter, tail sliding over the rim of the tub so the frayed edges of the base fin touched Makoto's toes. It didn't feel slimy like ordinary fish scales, and that alone was enough for Makoto's own curiosity to get the better of him.

There was no more blood in the water, no sign of an injury at all. Maybe he was still imagining now, the merman nothing more than a trick of his mind, an especially vivid dream, and he’d soon wake up to Nagisa teasing him for passing out at the party. Whatever the case, Makoto sunk down on his knees beside the tub, trembling hands sliding up over wet scales. Some of the scales flaked beneath his fingertips, fluttering down into the water.

"Is this okay?" The words rushed from his lips in a shaky exhale. As if granting permission the merman pressed into his touch, continuing to stare with his inquisitive eyes. Makoto licked his lips, tasting the pungent tang of saltwater that clung to the air surrounding the creature, and noticed the merman copy him. There was no mistaking it this time – the lilting hum forming a distinct 'oooo-khhh'.

The merman attempted this a few times before settling into a rapid torrent of clicks and whistles again as he reached impatiently for Makoto's leg once more. Their current position did not afford him an ideal view of Makoto's legs, however, and he seemed to realize very quickly because his hand suddenly moved to Makoto's forearms in a surprisingly powerful grip. Before Makoto knew it he was toppling forward, bath water sloshing as he landed in the tub.

His hands darted out to secure a grip on the tub while the merman leaned back, a triumphant smile on his face.

Was the merman playing with him?

Before he could ponder that, the merman's tail unfurled and slid between Makoto's legs. Unbidden, heat rushed to his cheeks. Makoto attempted to scramble back, only to slip and almost knock his head on the opposite side of the tub. Panicking would not help the situation – in fact, it only served to pique the merman's interest further, if the way the creature dragged himself forward was any indication. A brief finagling in the water and the merman managed to reverse their positions so he lay practically overtop of Makoto, Makoto's legs bent to accommodate the lithe body between them.

"You shouldn't—" The protest died on Makoto's lips as webbed fingers crested over his knees. The fine hairs on his leg stood erect as the merman's interest trailed higher, and if Makoto didn't put a stop to this soon there would be serious danger of something else reacting that way too.

He attempted to rotate his leg, but the merman caught it again. One hand gripped his foot and the other rested on his calf, and very gently the merman tested the flexibility of his leg by pushing upwards. It was almost like the warm-ups Makoto did before working out, but also – he shivered as again the merman’s blue eyes roved over him – completely different.

He gasped as the merman blew against his skin, the cool stream of air stirring a part of him he would rather stayed dormant. "D-don't do that," he pleaded, only to be completely disregarded as the merman repeated the action. Nimble fingers raked between his sparse leg hairs, before they closed around one and yanked. With a yelp, Makoto kicked his leg in reflex, and the merman reeled back in alarm.

Apologetically, he met the merman's narrowed blue gaze. "Sorry," he said, rubbing at the sore spot on his leg. "I told you not to..."

A reproachful whistle was his only answer before the merman inched forward again. There was a clear moment of hesitation before he gingerly nuzzled Makoto's leg.

"You don't have to apologize." Because he could only assume the way the merman's touch gentled meant he was sorry as well. Without a proper means of communication, however, there really was no way of knowing.

The merman's fingers skimmed over his thighs, dragging Makoto's sopping shorts up as they went, and the merman seemed pleasantly surprised to discover that the leg continued even beneath the fabric. With little ceremony he began to pull at the material.

Makoto winced at the sound of stitches tearing, but he allowed it, if only so as not to spook the merman again. It wasn't that he wanted to be touched, he just - for some reason, he couldn't stomach the idea of the creature withdrawing now.

At the same time, he didn't want a pair of his favorite shorts ruined because of this, either. He squirmed a little bit, but that did nothing to stop the merman.

"Wait, let me—you're going to rip them," he griped weakly, prying the hands away and marveling briefly at the silver hue of the merman's skin.

The merman glared but acquiesced and stopped, if only because the sight of Makoto pulling his shirt up over his head now captured his attention. Makoto tossed the sodden T-shirt onto the bathroom floor, shivering as the cool air assaulted his skin. His chest, even while broader, was not different enough from the merman's own to interest him very long. Iridescent fingers traced the circle of his nipple before quickly moving down over his abdominal muscles. He pressed into Makoto's naval, eyebrows furrowing in silent question, but ultimately seemed most impressed by Makoto's legs and the now prominent bulge tenting his shorts.

Before the merman could act upon what the voracious look in his eyes promised, Makoto shimmied out of his shorts. For modesty's sake he wanted to leave his boxers on, but a prompting squint soon had him sliding those off too.

"I guess we'll both be naked, then."

The merman tipped his head to the side, eyes traveling the expanse of newly bared skin. Makoto blushed furiously at the extra attention paid to his dick, which twitched at the merman's excited trill. The merman curled his tail forward so Makoto could see the finger-length slit at its center, about where the pelvic bones would meet if the creature had legs.

"So you're a… a girl?" Two harsh clicks dissuaded him from covering himself in embarrassment. It really shouldn't have made a difference if the creature was male or female, this was wrong either way, but knowing the merman might actually be a mermaid filled him with an acute sense of shame.

Cool fingers against his sensitive skin had him gasping. A gentle squeeze and he instinctively bucked into the touch. Makoto clenched his eyes shut, trying to conjure unpleasant images in his mind to counter the sensation of explorative fingers following the vein down the underside to his sac.

As good as it felt – and damn, it felt good; far better than it should have – Makoto couldn't take advantage of the situation any longer. The merman – mermaid – might not have known the implications of these actions, what it meant in human terms to touch a person like this, but Makoto could not hide behind the same naïveté. He was a grown man with full recognition of the lines between dubious and consensual sexual acts.

"This isn't right." He swore the mermaid actually whined as he struggled to distance himself from the invasive touch. "I know you're just curious, but you don't understand. This kind of thing—"

The slippery tail twined possessively about his waist, drawing him closer. Objections deserted him as quickly as they'd arose when those iridescent hands settled on him again, one leisurely stroking his cock and the other guiding one of Makoto's own hands to the tail slit. Makoto swallowed thickly as he felt warmth against his palm that did not coincide with the rest of the creature's cold body.

Ocean-blue eyes watched him expectantly. Makoto released a slow, shuddering breath, unsure of how to proceed. It was clear he wouldn't be allowed to get up anytime soon – not until the mermaid was sated. But what was he even supposed to do? He brushed his hand tentatively over the slit, wondering if it would be like fingering a normal woman if he were to slip a finger inside.

Sensing his insecurity, the mermaid released Makoto and instead began to rub against the slit, back arching in response. Makoto could only stare, wide-eyed, at the undulating creature. If he hadn't already been hard, the sight would have been more than arousing enough to get him there.

When the mermaid's fingers shifted lower, Makoto caught sight of something else – an angrily flushed sliver of skin that hadn't been there before, between the parted folds of the slit. Different from his own, but familiar enough in shape for Makoto to recognize and release an abbreviated hybrid of laugh and sigh.

"You're a boy after all."

That's what he'd been trying to show Makoto: that they were the same, in one aspect at least. This new understanding didn't change much, hardly made the situation less bizarre, but Makoto felt less guilty as he moved his hand to cover the merman's.

Back in high school, this kind of thing hadn't been unheard of in the sports club locker rooms. Friends would help each other out, and not a word would be spoken of the occurrence afterwards. Makoto hadn't regularly taken part in such activities – he'd been too afraid of getting caught – but couldn't deny he'd enjoyed himself on the rare instances he did.

Makoto settled a hand over the merman's, following the circular motion over the slit. The flesh beneath his hands grew hotter and the merman tipped his head back, eyes falling shut. He took his hand away so it was only Makoto touching him now, pressing the back of his palm instead over his mouth in a very coy, human fashion. Emboldened by the reaction, Makoto shifted to straddle the tail. His own erection throbbed between his legs, begging for attention, and in an effort to relieve it he thrust against the tail, groaning.

Blue eyes fixed on him again, narrow and calculating. Makoto took a deep breath, humiliation weighing his tongue down like lead. He ducked his head to hide his flaming cheeks. "Sorry," he said, when he found himself able to speak. "I—"

The merman sunk back against the tub, vaulted his tail so it rubbed tantalizingly against Makoto's crotch. Makoto choked down a whimper, wanting nothing more than to snap his hips forward. Webbed hands slid to Makoto's thighs, urging him closer until their bodies were more proportionally aligned, and then repeated what he'd done before with his tail. Suggestive and stimulating, the single move was all the encouragement Makoto needed. As the merman arced up, Makoto ground his hips down, and the pace only frenzied from there. All too soon a familiar coiling tightened Makoto's insides. He panted, trying to hold out as long as possible.

Then the merman moaned – a low, resonate, and very human sound – and the coil shattered. Makoto buried his face in the pale, silvery column of the merman's throat as he came. An irrational part of him wanted to bite down, taste the saltiness of that skin and claim the merman as his own.

He didn't know how long he lay against the creature. His limbs felt heavy, and a pleasant, post-orgasmic haze coated his mind. Makoto sighed and wished he never had to move again.

Fingernails raked down his back. Makoto winced, opened his eyes, and then the full gravity of the situation settled.

What the hell was that?

Makoto jumped up, somehow managing not to slip. He grabbed hold of the curtain rod to steady himself and tried not to stare at the mixture of his cum and a strange silver-white fluid contaminating the bath water. He tried desperately not to think about what he'd just done, or the way the merman still gazed intensely at him.

"So I—" He tripped over his words. From another part of the house, he heard his cell phone go off and said a silent prayer of thanks for the excuse to leave. "I don't think you're hurt anywhere. That's - that's good. Yeah."

Before he could get one foot out of the bath, the merman grabbed hold of him by the leg once more. He was sitting straight, staring up the length of Makoto's body with an expression that might have read bored if not for the provocative gleam in those half-lidded eyes. The merman walked two fingers over Makoto's thigh, mimicry of how Makoto tried to explain finding him on the beach earlier.

"Stay," the merman said.

Makoto let the phone ring.

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