When Sean woke up, he was ravenously hungry. He got up and went down stairs in search of something to eat. He found several sandwiches in the fridge for him but his parents were nowhere in sight. So, he grabbed the plate from the fridge and wandered outside only to find them sitting on the beach, heads bent together, clearly having an intimate moment. Sean decided not to intrude but at that moment, Rakcigion lifted his head and turned towards him.
Sean had the feeling of being caught red handed so he made an awkward gesture with the plate and was about to retreat into the house when Rakcigion beckoned him. He shook his head but then his mom called him so he went over and plopped himself on the sand.
His mother reached out her hand and checked his temperature.
“How are you feeling?” she asked him.
“Good. A little woozy but mostly hungry,” Sean informed her.
“That’s to be expected,” Rakcigion told him, “It’s due to the healing.”
“Yes, the water helps you heal faster than you normally would.”
“Oh right,” said Sean, remembering their conversation that morning. “So, when are you going to leave?”
“This evening,” Rakcigion told him, “As late as I can. If I don’t appear though, people will look for me.”
“Oh,” said Sean. “When will you come back, can you tell?”
“Unfortunately no,” said Rakcigion, “I know it’s not anytime soon though. Maybe by the end of this year but it all depends on the job.”
“Is there a time when you’re not working?” Sean asked little crossly.
“Sean!” warned his mother.
Rakcigion though, laughed. “I wish,” he said, “Very few times Sean, this is one of those. We usually have this time though so if it’s anything you should see me about this time next year. Sorry it can’t be anything closer but, duty calls. And I have a watchful Sovereign, so I can’t sneak away as much as I’d like.”
Sean sighed and ate another sandwich. He didn’t quite know how to feel about Rakcigion but he kinda liked him, which was something he hadn’t ever expected. But aside from how he felt, he wanted Rakcigion around more for his mom’s sake. She was really happy with him and they clearly still loved each other.
“Well I’ll see you whenever then,” he said.
Rakcigion reached out a hand very deliberately and brushed back Sean’s hair. “You will see me again Sean,” He said intensely.
Sean’s eyes were captured by his gaze for a moment and he could see that Rakcigion meant it. So he nodded dumbly and then bent his head and sought out his next sandwich as a distraction.
Zaira caught Rakcigion’s hand tightly in her own and gave him a bittersweet smile. The three of them sat there in silence for a while.
Sean finished in sandwiches and stretched out on the sand, body still aching slightly. His mom flopped down next to him after a while. Rakcigion pulled up his knees to his chest and gazed over the ocean.
“What’s it like to not have knees?” Sean asked.
Rakcigion huffed out a laugh. “Freedom, little one. Those who say flying in the closest thing there is to freedom, are obviously not merfolk.”
Sean snorted. “I think you’re biased.”
“Probably,” said Rakcigion. And he smiled at Sean. “Having a tail is not as weird as you think it might be. And you don’t need knees underwater anyway.”
“I reserve the right to decide,” Sean told him.
“Right reserved,” said Rakcigion easily.
And Sean kind of smiled at him. “Okay,” he answered.
They sort of just sat there for the rest of the day, chatting softly, laughing, even arguing a little. And Sean found that even though he tried hard not to, he couldn’t help but like Rakcigion, couldn’t help but like the man who was his father, couldn’t help but imagine, in the little breaks of conversation what his life might have been like if Rakcigion had been there.
In a lull in the conversation, Rakcigion looked over at him and Sean knew that he knew. Rakcigion shifted over to him and dropped an arm over his shoulder and pulled him against him.
“Yeah,” he said. “It hurts like hell.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have come back,” Sean snapped at him without heat.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have,” Rakcigion agreed and Sean’s heart sort of froze. “But I’m too damn selfish. But I didn’t want you hurt. I never wanted you hurt.”
Sean just sat there with Rakcigion’s arm around him, holding him up and protecting him against the world.
“A series of unfortunate events,” he finally said.
“Not that unfortunate,” said his mother, “I got both of you.”
Sean and Rakcigion both smiled at her at that.
“Fair enough,” said Rakcigion and Sean couldn’t argue.
But soon, too soon, the sun went down and Rakcigion stood up from the sand, brushing off his clothes.
“You’re going?” said Sean. His father gave him a small smile and nodded.
“I have to.”
Sean opened his mouth to say something but his mother grabbed Rakcigion and pulled him into a fierce hug. He gripped her back just as hard and then they were kissing. It was a long passionate kiss and another and another and finally they broke apart and just rested their foreheads together.
“Oh Raige!” said his mother shakily.
“I’ll come back,” he promised. “Zaira, I’ll always come back.”
“Holding you to that,” she told him.
“Okay, “he said smiling, “Okay.” The next kiss sealed it as a promise and then they finally broke apart.
It was only when they turned to him Sean was aware that he was still sitting in the sand staring at them like a dummy. He blinked and then slowly got to his feet.
“Um,” he said but Rakcigion just pulled him into a tight hug. Sean hugged him back and wondered why the hell he was feeling like this for someone he just met.
“I’ll see you again, kiddo,” Rakcigion told him, still holding him tight. “That’s a promise.”
“Don’t take another sixteen years,” Sean told him and felt Rakcigion laugh.
They finally pulled apart and Rakcigion said, “I have something for you.”
Sean arched an eyebrow as Rakcigion pulled something out of his pocket. It was a necklace with a single pendent hanging from it.
Rakcigion took Sean’s hand and poured it into his hand. “It’s something all mer-folk parents make for their children. For protection and to let them know they are claimed.”
“Oh,” said Sean and his fingers closed over it automatically. He held it for a few seconds and then opened his hand and inspected it.
The thread felt like seaweed, thinly woven into a braid and still sort of green, and tough like leather. The pendent was a twist of some back smooth rock, almost like coral but bearing a metallic sheen and some metallic properties. There was power in it. Sean could tell.
He stared at it and then slowly slid over his head. It settled against his chest and Sean felt a lightness flood over him.
“Thanks,” he said and then, “Is this seaweed still alive?”
“Yeah,” said Rakcigion.
“Just dip it in water. Any water. It’ll be fine.”
“My necklace is alive?”
“Keeps it stronger,” said Rakcigion with a shrug.
“Huh,” said Sean blinking.
Rakcigion laughed and hugged him tightly again taking him by surprise. Sean hugged him back though and after another long lingering kiss with his mother, Rakcigion waved them goodbye and walked into the waves and disappeared.
“Well, shit,” said Sean.
“Language, mister,” said his mother.
“I think we deserve pizza,” Sean said, still staring over the dark waves.
“Yeah,” said his mom sighing as she linked her arm through his, “I think we deserve pizza too.”