A Kingdom Hearts fanfiction by Cloudkitty, based on the artwork "Release Me" by Ayasal on Deviantart
"I don't care what you say Riku. I think a job at the zoo aquarium is just great." Kairi beamed over the table at the silver haired boy.
It was a bright sunny day in the low eighties. There was a light breeze blowing, and the busy city life around him nearly blocked out all of the conversations that were taking place at the tables next to theirs. It was a pity, Riku thought, considering the only voice he wanted to drown out was the one on the other side of the table from him.
"Riku are you listening to me?" Kairi whined.
"Hm." Riku shrugged, he hoped that that banana split he ordered would come soon. Kairi would surely stop praising, questioning, or poking at his personal life once she got food in front of her.
Riku was an eighteen year old boy, with shoulder length white to sliver hair, mesmerizing aqua green eyes, and a very tall and muscular build. Looking across the table Riku noticed the growing annoyance in Kairi's sky blue eyes.
"What are you so annoyed about?"
"The fact that you have a job and yet you are still not happy. You've been complaining for the past month that you needed a new job because your old job at the shopping mall didn't pay you enough. Now you have a new job and you're still complaining." Kairi groaned.
Riku rolled his eyes and sighed in relief when the food came and the young woman finally became silent. He was not complaining…well…at least not for the reason she thought.
It was true, he was happy with his new job and actually rather enjoyed it, which was weird considering he spent his whole day shoveling and distributing dead fish. However, it had been a little over three weeks ago when his manager had come to him and told him that he had a special job for Riku to do. The older man had lead him into the back of the aquarium where Riku saw a rather large tank that he had never seen before. The manager had instructed him to come here to this tank every night before closing and release about two pounds of live fish into the water. Riku had thought nothing of it and had agreed.
A few days had past with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Riku came to work, fed and cleaned the animals, then put the fish in the back tank and left. Riku couldn't really pinpoint when he had started becoming curious about the tank, all he did know is that he had. One day, just after putting the fish in the tank, Riku had stopped and looked inside it: fake coral, swimming clown fish and eels, and other such tank creatures. Nothing in the tank seemed particularly out of the ordinary from the other tanks he fed on a daily basis. However, the other tanks also housed dolphins, sharks, otters, and other meat eating animals. Looking around the tank again, Riku had seen no sign of a meat eating animal….besides the dead bone remains of some fish.
A few days later he had talked with his boss about his concerns only to have the man say it was none of his business and to just keep doing his job; which was precisely what Riku did, and he had been doing it just fine until a week ago. One night before he entered the room with the mysterious tank, he could have sworn he heard splashing and…laughter. When he had opened the door all noise had stopped and only a muffled splash resulted as whatever was making the noise disappeared. Thinking at first that some kid had managed to get into the tank, Riku had searched the entire grounds only to find nothing. But the mysterious sounds did not return the next night.
Then a few days or so ago Riku was heading to the tank and could have sworn he heard singing, but not just any singing; it had been the saddest singing he had ever heard in his life. The person's voice was otherworldly and seemed so…lonely… to Riku's ears. But as before, the moment he opened the door the singing halted and a splash could then be heard. The singing had continued every night since then, stopping only when Riku arrived.
Drumming his hand on the table Riku absently looked off into the distance. He had to find out what was in that tank, tonight. In fact, right now. Excusing himself from the table Riku began to put on his jacket when Kairi cried-
"Wait, are you leaving? It's not even six yet, you don't go to work until eight!"
"Yeah but…my boss wants me to give the penguins some vitamin supplements so I want to get started on that so it wont take all day." Riku lied as he turned to walk off.
"All night! You mean all night!" Kairi corrected after him.
He could hear it, the voice beyond the door was singing once again. The voice was high but yet elegant, lilting; it reminded Riku of something he might hear an elf sing. His hand gently reached up to lightly touch his fingers to the door. A part of him wished not to open the door, for fear of losing the beautiful voice forever, yet another part of him needed to know…needed to meet the owner of that voice. Griping the knob he swung it open and rushed in, only in time to hear a muffled gasp and see the glimpse of a splash as something iridescent disappeared into the water. Riku stood there for an instant, awe struck.
Then he silently berated himself for literally scaring the creature off. He then, with one last curse, decided to set his plan into motion. He only hoped the creature was curious enough to investigate; his plans success rode on the assumption that the creature was curious. He set up his laptop, placed a small mirror behind it, and locking the door so neither he nor the creature could escape. Riku then leaned up against the tank and began to play…movies.
Lord of the Rings, Rambo, Space Balls, and Spirited Away. All of them. He had watched all of them and not one sign of the creature in the tank! Riku sighed as he ejected the last DVD. It was hopeless! Oh sure, he could go inside the tank and investigate but that would only scare the creature further. Riku rubbed his blood shot eyes, they burned and ached with lack of sleep.
He sighed to himself and looked at the computer screen once more. His eyes focused on the internet icon. With a noncommittal shrug he clicked it, thinking maybe he could possibly look up some information on what the creature in this tank could possibly be. He entered into the google search bar ' sea creatures with sparkling scales '. After numerous websites about small tropical fish, Riku then added to his search criteria ' sings melodies '. It was then that Riku clicked on a site titled Mermaids: Jems of the Deep.
Riku nearly laughed at himself all the while that he looked at the site. A mermaid…a mermaid! He had now clearly lost all his sanity. He scrolled down and smirked, everything fit his criteria. Extremely shy creatures, very emotional and love to sing, have an extreme apatite and well adapted scales for camouflage. Clicking out of the site he then entered another. This one had a small video clip from Disney's The Little Mermaid playing. The music sounded forth, nearly startling Riku, and soon the metal room echoed with the lyrics "Under the sea, under the sea! Darling it's better, down where it's wetter, take it from me!". Turning down the volume Riku massaged his ears in an attempt to make the ringing stop. The high pitch of his speakers had nearly killed his ear drums. He solemnly watched the rest of the video, and when it finished he scrolled down the page. There were several other movie clips, and out of utter boredom, Riku clicked on each one.
"Teenagers, you give them an inch, they swim all over you." Riku smirked at the line; that had always been his favorite line in the whole movie. A soft snort behind him alerted his eyes to look at the mirror he had placed in front of him. There, in the reflections of the mirror, through the shimmering tank glass and water was the brief image of something moving. Slowly setting down the computer, Riku ever so calmly turned to face the tank. What met his eyes was so remarkable, Riku would have thought himself in a dream. For there, in front of him, staring at the computer with excited interest, was a young boy with spiky brown hair…and a long, blue scaled, shimmering tail.
Riku stared for the longest time at the mermaid, or merman rather, in the tank. He feared that to make a sound or even a movement would frighten the merman away. He stayed there in stunned silence for minutes, all the while the merman smiled and giggled at the clips on his laptop. From what Riku could infer, the merman understood English and greatly enjoyed music. When the clip reel ended the merman sighed in disappointment and seemed to turn as if to swim away. It was only then that Riku broke his silence.
"Wait!" he cried, putting his hands against the glass.
The merman stopped and turned violently, frightened of what had called out to him. He frantically looked around himself and then his eyes fell on Riku. His wide eyes then softened and Riku could almost see the curiosity sparkling in them.
"Don't go, I…I've been waiting quite a while to see you. I'm the one that comes in here every night and puts the fish in your tank for you to eat."
The merman tilted his head to one side, in an incredibly boyish manner.
"I…My name is Riku, what's yours?" Riku offered, trying to think up unthreatening questions so the merman would see he truly meant no harm.
The merman didn't say anything, but drew closer to the edge of the tank, and cautiously, ever so slowly, matched his hand to Riku's. He seemed confused and yet utterly entranced by the simple gesture he had done.
"Yes, they're very similar aren't they." Riku laughed
The merman glanced at him, blinked, then turned and in one whip of his powerful tail, disappeared.
Riku was left in stunned silence; his body seemed to vibrate with excitement.
Every night after that Riku would be greeted by the merman the moment he walked in the door. The routine would be for Riku to dump the fish into the merman's tank, then sit down, and either talk or plug in his computer and introduce him to another movie. The merman would never converse back and would only smile and show his pleasure whenever Riku made him happy. As time progressed and the number of days Riku went to see the merman increased, so did the number of times the merman would smile at him. If fact, after only a few weeks of knowing Riku, the merman had grown comfortable enough to sing in front of him. Riku thought the singing was all the more beautiful when it was not heard through a metal door. The merman's melodies had started out sad, but soon changed to have a happier or more peaceful tone. Even though Riku could not understand the words the merman sang, it still did not stop him from enjoying every note.
One night, after dumping the fish into the tank, the merman had gestured for Riku to come close to the surface of the water. Riku had done so, only to be grabbed by the merman and yanked into the water. Riku had immediately swam to the surface, but soon found himself being tugged back under. He had been confused by the merman's antics, but soon understood what he was trying to do. The merman swam around him playfully and then dashed to one of the rocks. From there he would peek around coyly and smile. Riku immediately caught on and began to play the merman's little game of tag. However, considering he had feet and the merman had a tail, the odds were not in Riku's favor. When he grew tired he swam to the surface and to the side of the tank. He exited the tank and was in the process of wringing out his shirt when he felt a slight tug on his pant leg. Looking down he saw that the merman's upper body was compliantly out of the water and he was clutching the fabric of his jeans, looking up at him with pleading eyes.
"I'm sorry, but I have to go. That water is cold, it may be perfect for you, but for me it's freezing." Riku explained. He knelt down and cupped the merman's cheek in his hand "I'll come back tomorrow…ok? I promise." The merman pouted, his cheeks seemed to turn a bright pink, but he grudgingly let go and dove back into the tank.
Unfortunately Riku never came that next day. His Boss had discovered his late night rendezvous and had fired him directly. To say Riku had been outraged would be an understatement. After vividly describing to the manager what an ass he was, he had demanded to know why the manager was keeping a merman locked up. He even threatened to release the knowledge of the merman to the public. The manager had merely scoffed at him, saying no one would believe his claims.
It seemed now that a lot stood between himself and the merman, and it would be easier for the both of them if Riku would just forget his obsession and move on. But something always lingered in the back of Riku's mind, the gentle smile, and bright eyes full of laughter, the playfulness. With every passing day that Riku was denied to see him, a nagging feeling ached in his heart that steadily grew worse. Riku didn't know why the merman was locked up, hell, two months ago he would of sworn merpeople didn't exist!
After weeks of planning and failed attempts, Riku finally was able to gain access to the aquarium. It was just on a stroke of luck that one of his friends, Demyx, had been hired to be the sea lion trainer. Secretly making a copy of his keys, Riku had snuck in one night and slowly made his way to the tank. He had set up a plan, and he would be damned if it was going to fail now. He knew he was breaking several laws, and probably would regret it….but those eyes. For those beautiful blue eyes he would do anything. He knew in his heart, that he had fallen in love with the merman. He did not know how, why, or when it had happened. All he did know was that he could not knowingly leave the merman to a fate of solitude, unhappiness and worry.
He gently shut the metal door and turned to the tank. The merman was nowhere to be seen. Riku walked to the side of the tank and taped the glass, but nothing happened. Fearing the worst Riku made a quick check around the perimeter, looking for any signs of life. Suddenly Riku stopped in his tracks, near the back of the tank on the sandy bottom was a uneven trail of what looked to be…pearls. Fallowing the trail Riku was lead to the way far back of the tank where the filter and rock tunnels were. There he found the merman, coiled in a tight ball at the bottom of the tank, with his tail wrapped around him, crying. Every time the boy closed his eyes to release a tear the water would crystallize around his eye and a glistening pearl would fall to the bottom of the tank. Now, Riku understood why the merman was locked up.
He taped on the glass of the tank. The merman jolted and looked at him with wide frightened eyes. "It's ok-" he said softly "It's me.". Relief flooded over the merman's face and he swam to the edge of the tank, more crystals appeared in the water and turned to pearls. The merman gave a faint smile to Riku, and outstretched his hand so both their palms were symmetrical against the glass. Riku looked at him, the longing in his eyes and the expression he wore told Riku everything.
"Would you like to leave, I could take you… to the ocean perhaps?" Riku offered
The merman's face didn't read reprieve or even happiness, it just read rescue me.
Within a matter of minutes Riku had climbed the ladder to the top of the tank and was holding his outstretched arms to the merman, who had followed Riku to the surface.
"Come on, grab onto me. You can't walk out of here, and a transfer using the water containment unit would be too risky. I'll carry you to my car, wrap you in some wet towels, and I'll take you to the ocean." The merman looked frightened but grabbed Riku's outstretched arms never the less.
They had made it, but just barely. The night watchman had almost spotted them as they had made their way to the car. Riku was sure, however, that the video cameras would not be so oblivious. But all of that didn't seem to matter, all that did matter was that Riku was driving down the highway with the merman in his passenger seat looking out the window in awe.
They reached the town of Destiny in a little less than twenty minutes. It was a dark night with a full moon looming high in the sky. Riku drove to the wharf and parked in the space that had the least walking distance to the dock. He exited his car silently and moved around to open the passenger door. Lifting the merman in his arms Riku carried him over the wood planks. The merman's eyes seemed to light up as he faintly heard the sound of water rippling against the shore and the sides of the boats.
Riku smiled, thinking to himself that this would be the last time he would ever see the merman. But he refused to get sentimental, and as he neared the end of the dock he said "You'll be in your rightful home now, so try to not get caught ok. I don't wanna have to save you again."
At the last plank Riku knelt down on one knee and let the merman toss himself into the sea. He surfaced, a mile wide grin on his young face. Riku laughed and stood back up, dusting off his jeans. The merman frowned as Riku took a few steps away from him, he made a slight chiming sound. Riku turned and smiled "What is it? You want me to point you out of the harbor?".
The merman shook his head and gestured for Riku to come closer, Riku did. As he leaned down so he was nearly face to face with the brunette, the merman grabbed the dock and used his arms to push himself upward….he made contact with Riku's lips. Riku had been startled by the kiss, for he had only received them from girls up until now. The kiss was over before he knew it, then the merman dove into the water and was gone.
It had been two weeks since Riku's heist, yet no one had come after him. He had even returned to the city and confessed himself to the police, thinking the tapes from the video cameras were going to be found eventually, only to have the police say that he was crazy because the aquarium manager swore he never owned any legendary creature. So Riku continued with his life… well… was about to continue it anyway, as he loaded the last box in his car. If the police were not going to come after him, Riku saw no reason to not move away from the city. He had no wish to live here anymore, truthfully he never liked it to begin with. Ever since that merman had returned to his home, Riku had had a nagging feeling in his heart that he should return to the sea as well.
"I just don't understand why you are moving to Destiny. It's rainy, it's near the ocean so you know it smells like fish, and the people there are disgusting." Kairi complained as she watched him load up his car.
"I just don't see why I should live here any more, there's nothing binding me." Riku shrugged.
"Oh, well that certainly shows what you truly feel about our friendship." Kairi huffed "Fine, move to that rainy hell hole. I hope your hair smells of salmon guts." Kairi pouted.
Riku sighed and turned to the red haired girl "Yeah, I'll miss you too Kairi."
The girl blushed a little and seemed to relax and as Riku got in the drive's seat, she came to the window and waved goodbye.
That night Riku stayed at his cousin Sephiroth's house. Since he could not sleep, for dreams of the merman haunted him, he decided to take a walk outside by the seashore and put this aching feeling to rest. Maybe walking by the sea and seeing that the merman would never come back would finally put his heart to rest.
It was a bright night and as Riku walked he gazed up at the stars. He stopped every once in a while to feel the sand under his bare feet or look longingly at the surf. The incoming and outgoing waves seemed to taunt him as they sung a melody he remembered all too well. He laughed, running a hand through his silver hair.
"Why is it that I can't forget you?" he said out loud to himself "I want you back with me, I never wanted you to even leave in the first place…and now here I am talking to myself like some crazy man. Maybe I am crazy, I'm in love with you and I don't even know your name….if you even had one." Groaning he turned to walk back down the beach…and was greeted by a very familiar pair of blue eyes and tousled chocolate hair.
He simply started, not believing what his eyes saw. The merman was standing right in front of him, naked, and with legs!
"I…how did you get here!" Riku yelled
The boy merely smiled, and spoke in the sweetest voice "Thank you for saving me."
Riku blushed, that voice only seemed to compliment his cuteness "Th-that's not what I asked, where did you come from? Just popping out of nowhere like that."
"I was calling you, calling you for the longest time to return to me."
"Yes, I didn't want to leave you either." the boy stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Riku's neck "It will not be easy, for every full moon I will have to return to the sea for one day. Also I can not drink or bathe in fresh water, and I will have to consume a lot of fish to keep up with the calories I burn in this human form. But if you are still willing, even with all that,….I would like to stay with you."
Riku coughed, his cheeks flaming "You…you shouldn't say such things." he retorted.
"I just did. I promise to sing to you every night. I'll sing to you, and for only you. I love you." the boy grinned and leaned up to press his lips to Riku's once more. The kiss was chaste and short. The boy pulled away to gaze into Riku's eyes, only to have his neck cupped and to be pulled into a longer and more passionate kiss.
As both parted for air Riku sighed and looked out towards the ocean, then back at the boy in his arms. "How am I going to explain finding a naked boy on the beach to my cousin?" he smirked.
"You could say I was committing suicide."
"Nah, I'll just tell the truth. He'll never believe me. By the way, what is your name?"
"Sora." he grinned sheepishly "My name is Sora."
Story © Cloudkitty
Movies mentioned © their respective owners
Characters © Square Enix.
Artwork that this story was based on © Ayasal