“What exactly happened?” Aquas asked. He and Jeffrey were laying on one of the rocks on the outskirts of the cove. He had a million and one questions to ask Jeffrey, but he decided it was nest to start with the most generic.
“I’m not sure how to explain it. A witch gave me this fin,” Jeffrey muttered as they both gazed down at his bright blue tail. It was then Aquas noticed the off dark blue on the left side. It was probably a representation of the injury he’d sustained on his human leg.
“Why?” Aquas asked, not really knowing what else to say to that.
Jeffrey sighed as he sat on the rock. He was deciding whether it was wise to tell Aquas about the witch and what she wanted him to do.
“She wanted lax pearls. She asked me to steal them for her.” Jeffrey immediately saw a change in Aquas’ expression when he uttered those words. The smile the smaller merman had been wearing had fallen and the hands he’d wrapped across his chest had moved to grip each other tightly.
“You were going to steal from us, or do you still plan to?” Aquas finally asked as his brows knitted into a frown that spelled both confusion and hurt.
It didn’t only hurt that stealing was probably Jeffrey’s intention for coming there was to steal. It also hurt that his motive for coming there was in no way related to simply just seeing the merman that had saved his life. Aquas wasn’t so sure why his assumptions hurt so much. Maybe because he himself had been longing to see the human all this time.
“No, that was never my intention!” Jeffrey stuttered, looking down at the laying merman. How was he going to explain that he had no intention of hurting Aquas’ people?
“I had no idea of her intentions when she sent me here, but she soon started bothering me in my dreams. Well, they feel like dreams...” Jeffrey trailed before uttering a low sigh.
“Is that why you haven’t been sleeping?” Aquas asked, looking up at the blond-haired merman. Jeffrey’s expression looked somewhere between frustrated and tired. It was a frequent one on him. Aquas had been a little worried about it, but he’d decided a while ago that it wasn’t in his place to bring it up.
“Yes,” the merman muttered, running a hand through his hair as he looked out into the ocean scenery.
Aquas sat up then, running a hand through Jeffrey’s hair in a gesture of empathy. Jeffrey smiled weakly at him as he let the merman run his hand through his hair. The gesture was comforting and worked wonders in regards to calming Jeffrey down.
“What now?” Aquas asked, breaking the comfortable silence they’d fallen into. Aquas watched the merman sigh as he rubbed his chest with a loosely folded fist.
“I really don’t know. Her threats have ranged from making me regret my refusal to comply with taking away the tail,” Jeffrey muttered, making Aquas glance down at said tail.
The statement made a little sense to him. But Aquas wondered if that meant Jeffrey wanted to keep the tail and stay underwater with his cove.
“Do you want to keep the tail?” Aquas asked, voicing his thoughts. Jeffrey thought about that. Did he want to keep the tail? He wanted to clear up some things on the surface, but he wasn’t sure what he really wanted after that. He’d enjoyed his stay on Afiba maybe a little too much.
He was pulled out of his thoughts when he felt Aquas’ hand leave his hair to settle over his hand on the rock. He turned to give the smaller merman a confused look, wondering what had triggered the gesture.
“Whatever you want and decide to do, I’m sure our own magic-user can help. According to the shopa, Encaca is getting closer,” Aquas muttered, earning a nod from Jeffrey.
The shopa was a small whistle-like instrument that was used by traveling merpeople to distribute high pitched sound that could travel for miles. The gatherers used it to communicate how close or far away they were. As of present, the messenger that was traveling with Encaca across the twenty coves was using one. The sound got clearer and louder with time, and there was no doubt that Afibia as a cove was being approached.
“I personally don’t want you to leave,” Aquas muttered under his breath. “I really like you.”
Jeffrey wasn’t sure how to respond to that. Aquas spoke with a less mature touch, substituting words that people really didn’t use for each other. Aquas might simply mean that he liked Jeffrey as a person, or he could mean something a lot more. Jeffrey wished it meant a lot more. He felt an attachment to the merman that he’d never felt with any human before.
“I like you too,” Jeffrey said, earning a big smile from Aquas. Aquas raised himself a little so he could take Jeffrey’s chin in his hand. He looked into Jeffrey’s confused blue eyes before smiling briefly and placing his lips on his.
A low sound Jeffrey wasn’t familiar with rang through his chest. They kissed sloppily for a while, their noses getting in the way so very often. Jeffrey smiled into Aquas’ mouth, taking over the kiss because it was clear that even if Aquas was the one who initiated the kiss, he wasn’t very familiar with what he was doing.
Jeffrey chuckled when Aquas almost fell over at the feeling if their tongues touching. Jeffrey held on to him, showing him what to do. They way Aquas kissed was a representation of himself. He was warm, sweet and very curious. Jeffrey smiled into the kiss thinking about it. Those were the things he loved so much about the smaller merman.
“I hate men!” Loretta screeched, making the cat on her dressing table to jump away in fright.
“Sorry darling,” she muttered, looking down at the stunned cat standing with its hairs up in attention on the wooden floor. Loretta looked back at her mirror, annoyed to find out her spell had worn off during her screeching episode, and she couldn’t see into the sea anymore.
Loretta’s frown returned when her cat was curled safely under her bed. She hated men. She hated them so darn much. They were quick to objectify anything and they were too gullible, greedy and all-round stupid. Send one down there and their next thought was to hijack the merpeople and rid them of their resources, but in Jeffrey’s case, it was different. He fell in love with one. That was new, very new, and Loretta was definitely adding it to the list of fails.
She let out a sigh, rubbing her forehead with the base of her right palm. She had to calm herself down and sort out the mess Jeffrey had made.
Her trail of thought was interrupted when someone knocked on the wooden door. Loretta looked up with a quizzical look on her face. She wasn’t aware that she was working that evening.
“Loretta, people are here to see you,” the small girlish voice of the present errand girl said from the other side of the door. Loretta’s frown softened. They only sent the girl when it was business that had to do with magic.
“I’m coming,” she muttered, getting off her stool before moving to unbolt the door of the small-sized room.
A blond-haired man and a darker haired man both greeted her when the door creaked open. She looked from one man to the other, wondering what they could possibly want.
“How can I help you?” she asked, turning her gaze to the blond man who didn’t seem comfortable being there in the first place. He had a huge frown on his face and kept cursing under his breath.
“Don’t mind him,” the dark-haired man said with a small smile. “We’re here to ask you for help. Our friend is missing and we were wondering if you could help us locate him.”
Loretta raised her brow at the request before her eyes briefly widened with realization. They were the crewmates of the man she’d sent to get the pearls.
Damn it. She thought, opening the door a little wider. I need more time.
“And how am I supposed to help you with that?” she asked, making the brown-haired man frown in confusion. Loretta had decided to play dumb. She couldn’t let the man’s crewmates find him before she’d gotten her pearls. She just decided she’d just have to do without the easy money she could have made from helping them. The pearls were worth more, and the feeling of regret would probably subside when she had them in her hands.
“How are we supposed to know, you’re the witch,” the blonde said, speaking up for the first time. Loretta’s dark eyes moved to observe him. He looked frustrated like he was wasting his time. It was the typical behavior of people who didn’t believe in magic.
Pity. Loretta thought. She wouldn’t be able to prove a nonbeliever wrong today.
“I don’t know anything about this witch you speak of,” she said, continuing her pretense.
“I knew this was going to be a waste of time,” the blonde man groaned as his friend tried to calm him down.
“We were lead here. They told us you could help,” the fuming man’s friend said as he turned a pleasing look Loretta’s way.
“Then you were directed wrongly. I don’t know anything about magic and I’m sorry that I can’t be of help,” she muttered before shutting the door before the man could ask any more questions.
She soon heard a string of curses from the other side of the closed door, followed by the sound of a hushed argument then the sound of footsteps retreating.
Loretta rolled her eyes before returning to her mirror. The black cat under her bed meowed, making the side of Loretta’s lips curl up into a smile. She muttered the necessary spell that allowed her to see through, smiling as the image of Jeffrey formed.
“Soon,” Loretta muttered as she watched Jeffrey through her mirror.
“Soon we’ll be out of this hell hole my darling,” she muttered, turning to look at the green eyes of her cat shinning under the darkness of the bed. The cat crawled out, letting out a purr as it stretched.
Loretta turned her attention back to the mirror. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on the lax pearls. They would solve all of her problems. They would prevent her from being a slave to her present situation.
Loretta hummed as she watched Jeffrey and the merman interact. She just had to decide on how to punish Jeffrey for going against her, then she’ll figure out what next from there.