Great! I'm Half-Fish!

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Chapter 8

The next morning Sean said a rather tearful goodbye to his mom and found himself paddling out to beyond the breaker zone. Then he just sort of wallowed there and waited for Rakcigion to appear. Surprisingly it didn’t take long and he didn’t scare Sean this time. Sean was alerted to his presence by the graceful slap of a tail close to him and then his father popped out of the ocean.

“Shenaragle,” he said smiling warmly at him. “Yes or no? “

“Apparently, “said Sean, “It’s a yes.”

Rakcigion’s eyes lit up then. “Fantastic. Got everything you need?”

“I have no idea what I need.” Sean said. His father laughed.

“Nothing really, except for gills. And a tail. But we’ll settle for gills alone if we have to.”

“So how are we accomplishing that?” Sean asked, eyebrows raised.

“Either we drown you or we just get you to focus.”

“I am highly against drowning me!” Sean yelped.

Rakcigion snorted amusedly. “Me too. Come here.”

Sean paddled over to him and Rakcigion held out a hand. When Sean took it, he guided his hand to his own gills.

“Here, feel how they are. Don’t poke by the way, that hurts.” Sean hesitantly spread his hand over the fluttering gills on his father’s side. When the gills flared out, he jerked back his hand and Rakcigion huffed out a laugh. Sean shot him a look and then slowly returned his hand to the gills. He could feel them throbbing under his hand with each inhalation that Rakcigion took.

“Weird,” he said. “It’s like, they’re just cuts in the skin...that move…” He removed his hand. “Doesn’t it feel weird when I touch them? Like isn’t it suffocating?”

“Not really,” said Rakcigion. “Water is still streaming out between your fingers. It’s more like having a partially clogged nostril.”

“Eww,” Sean said on instinct before re-focusing on the task ahead of him. “So... I’m supposed to be able to have these.”

“Yep,” said his father.

“Man, I don’t even know if I want these,” Sean admitted.

“That’s okay,” Rakcigion said.

Sean looked at him. “Really? I mean if I don’t get gills then your plans for father-son bonding time kinda dies.”

“True,” Rakcigion said. “But honestly?”

“Yeah?”

“You’re perfect to me however you are.”

Sean blinked and then blinked some more. “I…. like…. shit…. how the hell am I supposed to respond to something like that?!”

“Um…. You don’t have to?” Rakcigion said hesitantly.

“Okay this having a father thing is officially going to take some time to get used to,” Sean muttered. “Fine gills. Gills are easier. Do I just concentrate on gills?”

“Take a breath,” Rakcigion advised him, apparently willing to let the earlier topic go. “Go underwater and try to release that breath through your gills.”

Sean personally thought that didn’t help at all but he took a deep breath and then stopped kicking and let himself sink. Rakcigion sank with him and they both just sort of hovered there underwater waiting for something to happen. Sean tried to imagine gills sprouting on his sides but nothing happened. After a minute or so he kicked back to the surface, took in a fresh breath of air and allowed himself to sink again.

He closed his eyes this time and didn’t try to think of gills or breathing or anything. Instead he thought about how it felt to just rest on his surfboard rocking gently back and forth with the motion of the waves. He thought about how it felt when he got that first scent of ocean breeze. He thought about how he felt in the water. He thought about the night he’d fallen off the cliff, the brief memory he had of the maid songs before utter terror had taken over. He remembered his mother, saying ‘Let me give you the ocean’. His hand clutched the pendent his father had given him for protection, to claim him. And then he exhaled through his gills.

He took in his first gulp of water and sent it through them as his eyes fluttered open in triumph.

The first thing he saw was Rakcigion who looked both happy and confused.

“What?” Sean demanded and then tried not to panic as he realized that water was going into his open mouth. He coughed it out and then looked back to his father. Rakcigion’s confused expression had morphed to one of amusement and he took Sean’s arm and swam them back to the surface which was a lot farther away than Sean had realized.

When they broke the surface, Sean took a deep breath instinctively through his mouth and shunted it though his gills and then winced in pain.

“Close them!” Rakcigion said, hurriedly. Sean pressed his gill slits closed and then looked at his father.

“What just happened? And why did you look like that?”

“Gills dry out in air which can be painful,” Rakcigion explained. “And... your gills are on your neck, not your side.”

Sean blinked and patted the sides of his neck. Sure enough, the gill slits were there. He glanced down at his sides but found no more. Rakcigion took hold of his chin gently and twisted his head to get a better look at the gills.

“They’re well formed,” he said. “Oh look, you have really tiny ones going up the back of your neck to your hairline. Cute”

Sean patted hurriedly at his neck until he found the tiny gill slits.

“Uh...is this going to be a problem?”

Rakcigion shook his head. “I don’t see why. They’re obviously functional. I think it’s probably a mutation from your mixed blood.”

“Huh,” said Sean. “Well. Okay. Wait do I have to get a tail now?”

“Hopefully,” Rakcigion said cheerfully.

“I hope it doesn’t show up in the wrong damn place,” Sean grumbled.

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Half an hour later though, no tail had appeared and Sean was beginning to feel exhausted. There was something there, but he just couldn’t get it to come out. Rakcigion sensed his exhaustion and brought the exercise to a stop.

“We got the gills,” he said. “And honestly that’s all we need. Relax and just let the water give you back some of your strength.”

Sean nodded and just lazily kicked in the water to keep himself barely afloat. After a few minutes he began to feel a cool sensation trickling through his limbs and reviving him.

“Cool,” he mumbled. Ten minutes later he felt revived enough to start on his crazy adventure.

“Ready to go?” Rakcigion asked him.

Sean nodded. Rakcigion spun to face the shore and blew a kiss. Sean turned to see his mom standing at the water’s edge looking at them. He waved at her and she waved back and then made a shooing motion at him. Sean laughed and turned to his father.

“So, what now?”

“Now we swim,” Rakcigion told him. He held out an arm and Sean tentatively grabbed it and then with a few swishes of his powerful tail Rakcigion carried them into the depths.

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