Great! I'm Half-Fish!

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Chapter 4

Sean awoke a few hours later, still feeling terrible, but all in all, far better than how he had felt earlier. He groaned and sat up on the sofa. Instantly his mother was by his side, pushing him gently to lie back down but he stopped her and made her sit him upright. He had to endure a few more dizzying minutes but after that had passed, he felt much better being upright.

“Ow, mom, I spoilt the sofa,” he mumbled as he realized that the sofa was still wet as he had gone to sleep on it while he was sopping wet.

“It’s okay,” said his mom, running her hand through his hair gingerly, “You needed to sleep and there was no way you were making it up those stairs.”

Sean made a non-committal noise, sat for a while and then tried to stagger to his feet. He only made it with his mother’s help. And together they lumbered toward the dining table where Sean once more collapsed onto a chair.

“Ohhhh,” he groaned softly and leaned back into the chair. “Is there anything to drink?” he asked.

“How about you try some water for now?” asked his mom.

“Okay,” said Sean. His mom brought over the water and Sean sipped it gently. It was the most heavenly thing he had ever tasted as far as he was concerned.

His mom patiently waited until he drunk out all the water before she began to quiz him.

“What happened Sean?” she asked him.

“Apparently I fell off the cliff,” Sean told her.

“You fell off the cliff.”

“Yes.”

“How did you manage to fall off the cliff?”

“I wasn’t actually awake for most of it,” said Sean, “I woke up when I was halfway down.”

“You what!!! You sleep-walked over a cliff?!!!!”

“That’s how I remember it,” Sean said.

“But how did you get here? The police combed the beach front earlier today looking to see if you had washed up anywhere.”

“I got rescued,” Sean informed her, “or else the rocks would have shredded me. Did I mention I blacked out when I hit the water?”

“Sean!” exclaimed his mother in horror. “You certainly did not young man! And you said you got rescued. Rescued by whom?”

“By me,” said a new voice.

Sean and his mother both looked toward the front door, which his mother had had open to let in the sea breeze. There, leaning casually against the doorframe, was Rakcigion. He was fully human and dressed in a typical jeans and silver-grey t-shirt, with what looked like a scarf wrapped around his hips. Sean’s mother stared at Rakcigion wide-eyed for a second longer and then she was out her chair and moving toward him with a disbelieving cry of ‘Raige!’

Rakcigion rocked off the doorframe in time to catch her and they both staggered backward into the porch, where Rakcigion lifted his wife off her feet and spun her around in a circle before setting her back on her feet again and kissing her passionately.

Sean, sitting forgotten in his chair, stared at them wide-eyed for a moment in surprise and curiosity before what he was seeing caught up with him and he quickly averted his gaze and turned away. It wasn’t like he had never seen anyone kissing before, but it was just strange to see his mother kissing someone. Sean stayed like that until a hand waved in front of his face. He jumped and tilted his head back to see Rakcigion grinning at him.

Sean quickly righted his head to a position less prone to giving him headaches and fixed his gaze on his mom who was sliding back in her chair. Her hair was a bit more askew than it had been a moment ago and she was blushing. To Sean’s surprise it made her look much younger. Or perhaps it was the happy glow that currently hung around her.

“Sooo,” said Sean, trying to break the rather awkward silence which had descended for a moment. “He is my father.”

His mom flushed again. “Yes, Sean, he is.”

“Told ya,” said Rakcigion cheekily. He pulled a chair up to the table, spun it around and straddled it backwards and rested his elbows on the backrest.

“How are you feeling,” he asked Sean.

“Weirdly uncomfortable,” Sean told him, “I’ve never seen my mom kiss anyone before.”

“Sean!” exclaimed his mother.

Rakcigion, though, laughed. “How’s the concussion?” he asked him.

“Better,” said Sean.

“Good,” said Rakcigion.

“Raige,” interrupted his mother, “How did my boy fall off the cliff?”

“The maids were singing,” explained Rakcigion, “and apparently he heard them this time.”

“Oh,” said his mom. “But why the cliff? Why not just walk straight into the water?”

“The breakers would disturb the sound when you get close. On the cliff, it’ll come over the water clearer. He must have followed it all along the shoreline and then went up the cliff. I saw him right as he went over. He missed the rocks by a miracle alone. I got to him in time to keep him from being dragged under like he almost was at the pools yesterday.”

“Like what?!” said his mother. She shot a look at Sean. Sean, though, was glaring at Rakcigion.

“You didn’t tell her?” Rakcigion asked him. Sean slowly shook his head whilst glaring death at him. Rakcigion winced. “Sorry.”

“Sean,” said his mother in a dangerous voice, “what happened?”

Sean sighed, defeated and said, “Cady swam out yesterday and then got into trouble and I went into the water to help him and the other guys and then Michel got into trouble and I helped him but then I got pulled under water…”

“And I helped him,’ Rakcigion finished.

“Yes,” agreed Sean.

They both sat in silence while they awaited the judgment of the matriarch. Finally she sighed. “Only because you were trying to help someone,” she said.

Both of them gave a sigh of relief at being let off.

“Raige,” said his mom, turning her attention to him, “would it have happened yesterday if you weren’t there?”

“Would what have happened?” asked Sean, but no one answered him.

Rakcigion though for a bit but then he shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not,” he answered, “he was pretty panicked and it doesn’t happen when you’re blindly panicking. You’ve got to concentrate.”

“Would what have happened?” asked Sean, again. Still no one paid attention to him.

Instead his mother asked: “Can he actually…?”

In response to the question Rakcigion turned to face Sean. Sean stared back at him, eyes shifting side to side like a panicked animal. Rakcigion apparently chose to ignore this and leaned forward closer. He gripped Sean’s jaw and turned his head first one way and then the other. Then he released his jaw and pressed gently on the sides of his eyes and point where his jaw hinged.

With his face close to Sean’s while he was doing his strange inspection, Sean realized something.

“You look different,” Sean told him. He squinted at him and then said, “Yup, definitely different. Your eyes are smaller. And your face isn’t as sharp.” He tilted his head for a moment as he focused on his recent, pain-bleared memories. “And its flatter, I think.”

Rakcigion let out a huff of laughter. He leaned away from Sean and said to his wife, “Yes, Zaira. He can most definitely. And yes Sean, I do look different. Mer-folk are built differently for different purposes.”

“Oh,” said Sean. “Now will someone please tell me what it is I can do?”

“Turn into a merman, Sean,” said Zaira.

“I can?!” asked Sean surprised. “You found that out by looking at my face?”

“That coupled with the fact that you can’t float,” said his mom.

Sean whipped his head around to look at her even though it really hurt. “You knew??!!” he said incredulously.

She laughed. “Of course. I figured it out ages ago. Your father is a merman you know; of course, I’d look out for signs like that.”

“Right…” said Sean contemplatively. “So, I’m half a fish.”

“Technically,” said Rakcigion, “You’re half a half a fish.”

“I’m quarter of a fish?!”

“That’d be about right,” his father.

“Great!” grumbled Sean. “Do I get a quarter of a tail?”

Rakcigion grinned and shrugged. “Who knows?”

“Peachy,” said Sean dryly.

Both his parents laughed at him which Sean still found weird because he had never thought he would hear such a thing. In fact, the possibility had never crossed his mind.

“So…” said Sean suddenly changing the subject, “are you going to stay this time?” he asked Rakcigion. As suddenly as it had happened, their laughter stopped.

Rakcigion shook his head. “I can’t. The reason I didn’t come back was because I was banned from stepping foot on shore for a while except with express permission. Not that I didn’t but I was also not allowed to come back to this part of the sea for a while and I didn’t want to bring any repercussions on you and your mom. The only reason I’m here is because the ban on this part of the sea, got lifted recently. I’m still not supposed to step foot on shore, but I usually get away with small time increments. If I stayed away for more than a day though, that’d be trouble. Besides, I do have a job down there, you know. And it’s kinda important.” Rakcigion shrugged. “I can’t leave.”

“You’re staying down there for your job?!” asked Sean incredulously.

“He missed the whole part about the ban,” said Rakcigion to no one in particular.

“For your job?!” repeated Sean still staring at him.

“What part of banned do you not understand?” Rakcigion asked him.

“Banned by who?!” said Sean.

“My sovereign, of course,” Rakcigion told him tersely.

“Your sovereign?”

“Yes, Sean. My sovereign. My King. I broke rules by coming on shore and marrying your mother and that was my punishment, the bans. If I didn’t go back to the sea when he called, he might have killed both of you. And I’m staying down there for your safety as well for the most part.”

“The next part is for your job.”

“Yes,” said Rakcigion and he looked Sean in the eye. “My job is bigger than I am and what I want. Leaving it to do as I please is like a surgeon walking out mid-surgery because he decides he wants a vacation. And I imagine you wouldn’t think very much of such a surgeon, would you?”

Sean kept silent and shook his head. To his surprise Rakcigion reached out and cupped his chin in one hand. “Don’t imagine for one second Shenaragle, that I don’t want to be here. But I can’t put you in danger from my sovereign and I have duties I have to attend to like everyone else on this planet.”

Sean nodded dumbly and when Rakcigion had released him, he said, “That sounds like a terrible sovereign.”

Rakcigion laughed, startling Sean. “Actually,” he said, “I rather like him.”

“Like him!”

“Yes. He isn’t cruel, if that’s what you’re thinking. But he is a Sovereign of the Oceans and Seas. He has to be harsh but it doesn’t mean he isn’t just. But then I don’t think I can actually make you understand. You don’t know merfolk society. My sovereign actually likes me.”

“Likes you!”

“Yes. I got off pretty easy all things considering. And the job….” Rakcigion paused and pursed his lips for a moment before continuing, “He threw me into that job, mainly I think, to prevent me from going into depression.”

“Depression?”

“Yes, Sean,” Said Rakcigion giving him a half-smile, “I just got ripped away from my wife who was pregnant with our child. I’m pretty sure that’s grounds for depression.”

Sean opened his mouth, closed and nodded. Then he asked tentatively, “So your Sovereign was being kind?”

“Yes,” said Rakcigion.

“Huh,” said Sean, “But he was the one who called you back.”

“Yep.”

“You’re right,” said Sean, “I am never going to understand. Merfolk society is weird.”

“Just different,” said Rakcigion shrugging.

“Weird,” repeated Sean, nodding sagely.

“Sean,” said his mother in exasperated fondness while Rakcigion huffed out a laugh.

“Sooo,” said Sean, “Are you just going to drop in for random secret visits now?”

“Maybe,” said Rakcigion, “It depends. I’ll come when I can most definitely but visits will be very spread apart.”

“Okay,” said Sean. He paused. “I don’t know to feel about anything right now.”

“That’s fine,” said Rakcigion.

“We don’t expect you to suddenly be okay with everything,” added his mother.

“You couldn’t give me some sort of heads up mom?” asked Sean rather plaintively.

She gave him a pained smile, “I didn’t know if he would ever come back,” she said gently, “I didn’t want you to get attached to someone you might never see in your whole life. And honestly how do you start the ‘your father is a merman conversation’? Especially without some sort of proof?”

“Well….” said Sean, “Fair enough.”

Rakcigion nodded in agreement.

There was an awkward moment of silence and then Sean leaned forward, rested his head on the table and groaned.

“My head hurts.”

He heard Rakcigion laugh again and his mother got up and came around the table.

“How about you lie down again?” she said pulling him off the table and getting him to his feet.

He groaned again and resisted and then stopped resisting altogether.

“I got him,” said Rakcigion appearing at his other side. He shouldered Sean’s weight and carried him up the stairs.

Once there, his parents stripped him out of his still damp clothes and got him into dryer stuff. Sean noted that he should be somewhat embarrassed at this point and totally ignored it. Maybe he could feel embarrassed later. He suddenly wasn’t feeling capable of doing anything. Finally, he got installed into the bed and then Rakcigion’s hand was on his forehead feeling cool and comforting.

“Shhh Shenaragle,” he said, “Sleep.”

“Why do you call me that?” Sean mumbled.

“It’s your name,” said Rakcigion smiling at him.

“Oh,” said Sean and fell asleep with his father’s laughing eyes as the last thing he saw.

◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌ ◌

“Is he going to be alright?” asked Zaira wrapping her arms around herself.

“He’ll be fine,” Rakcigion told her wrapping her in his arms. “He’s just not used to healing as fast as he did today. He’ll be up in an hour, ravenously hungry.”

“Oh,” she said, going limp in relief. “I’d better get something cooked for him,” she said.

“I’ll help,” he said smiling down at her.

She smiled up at him and then buried her face in his chest.

“Oh Raige!” she said.

He hugged her tighter and buried his face in her hair.

“I know,” he said. “I know.”

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