Here I am again with another update! Just in case I haven't done this yet, here's a story disclaimer:

I don't own anything in this story; the Little Mermaid and Treasure Planet and all other Disney references belong to Disney, while any other animated film references I make belong to their respective owners and all that. All I own is the concept, general storyline core plot, and some of the alternate worlds mentioned herein.

Chapter 9

Something about this strange redheaded girl drew Jim to prolonging their stay for a few days longer than normal in this world, for deep down in his gut he couldn't picture himself having to say goodbye to her. His chest felt tight every time he tried, and so he simply stopped and took that as a sign to stay.

Dimitri wasn't being of any use, of course, simply emerging at mealtimes and spending the rest of his days locked in the library or in his room, poring through books that he hoped would contain some sort of cure for Aurora. Jim hated to imagine telling his brother that there was almost a zero percent likelihood that anything from this underdeveloped world would help, so he kept his lips sealed and used it as an excuse to spend more time with Ariel.

They had gone out sailing together one day, and she had muttered something rather cryptic about how it was a nice change to be on this side of the ocean for once, but Jim was too busy staring at her smiling face to ask her about it. He itched to pull out his surfer and take a ride on it, missing the feel of defying gravity and as he stared at the pretty redhead he somehow knew she'd be the type to appreciate it; he wasn't used to these almost selfless feeling coursing through him, feelings of wanting to share experiences with another.

"Jim, can we go into town today? I want to see the shops and all the fun things I've heard stories about" she asked him one morning. He was a little startled by this admission, but in truth he was curious about this world's town center so he agreed.

A little while later they managed to procure a horse-drawn carriage on loan from Eric, and with Jim steering they were on their way into town. Upon their arrival they tied it up at a stable and paid the custodian to keep watch over it. Ariel was wearing a lovely light emerald green dress that twirled when she walked, and it simply flowed after her as she rushed around looking at everything like a child in a candy shop.

Jim smiled at her fondly, trying to keep up with her was an effort however and eventually he had to reach out and grab her arm.

"Slow down, Ariel! I know there's a lot to look at, but if I lose you in the crowd that could be a problem" he said with a huff. She blinked at him.

"Okay, well then I guess we'll just have to do this to keep track of one another" she said brightly, and without further ado she grabbed his hand in hers and proceeded to walk at a slightly slower pace to admire all the little stalls full of curious objects, foods, and garments.

Jim's face flashed as red as her hair, but he forced himself to return to his normal tan shade by the time she turned back to look at him.

"Oh Jim, this is gorgeous! Can I get it, please?" she had found a little stall selling jewelry of all sorts, and specifically she was indicating a small pendant bearing the form of a silver seagull on a thin rope of leather.

"It's a seagull" Jim stated slowly, his lips turning up in spite of himself at her enthusiasm.

"Yes, seagulls are my favorite of all birds because they navigate the domain between sky and sea! It's a really fortunate thing they have" she said with a dreamy quality to her voice.

Jim thought briefly that he rather liked the thought of her appraising the sky as something so wonderful, and so without further ado he turned to the stall owner and purchased the little pendant.

"How much do I owe you?" Ariel said, realizing that she had forgotten to pull out her own little pouch of coins that had been given to her kindly by Odette.

"Nothing, it's a gift" Jim said with a crooked smile that made her knees go weak; he walked behind her then, and turned to push her red braid aside in order to loop the leather around her neck loosely before tying it together with help of the silver clasp that came with it. When he was finished, he placed his hands on her shoulders and spun her around to admire how it fell against her warm yet pale skin; he blushed a bit when he realized that it must look like he was staring at her chest.

Ariel suddenly wrapped her arms around him in a bone crushing hug.

"Oh thank you Jim! You're really the sweetest, I'm so glad I met you!" she gushed, pulling back from the hug slightly to smile at him.

"You're welcome, it's nothing really" he said, pink tinging his cheeks again as he noted how intensely blue her eyes seemed to be at that moment. Beaming, she disentangled her arms from him and grabbed his hand again as they kept walking among the shops.

They spent their time together happily that day, browsing the stalls some more and even trying on silly clothes and hats in one shop much to the general amusement of the people who saw them; Ariel's mistakenly putting a pair of pants on as a sort of cape causing Jim to double over in fits of laughter.

They then decided to get lunch at a local pub type place, where many of the choices on the menu consisted of seafood. Ariel wrinkled her nose at the menu more than once, opting for the more expensive but less offending choice of grilled steak and roast potatoes while Jim settled on a shepherd's pie.

As they finished up their meal and went to the front desk to pay, however, a group of rather thuggish looking guys approached Ariel and one even placed his large hand on her shoulder to spin her around.

"Hey, girlie, lookin' good... How come I've never seen you around these parts? You new in town?" he leered.

"Yes, as a matter of face, I am" Ariel said with a tone of uncertainty as to what the men wanted.

"Knock it off, Gaston, it's not even dusk yet and I bet you've been drinking... Leave the lass alone" the matron behind the counter warned. The man called Gaston ignored her, and Jim sensing that this guy was trouble reached down to grab hold of Ariel's hand in a sign of defense.

"What, you're with him? Pfft, ditch junior here and come have fun with a real group on men for once" Gaston chortled, his grip tightening on Ariel's shoulder and causing her to wince.

"Back off, or I'll give you something fun to deal with" Jim blurted out as menacingly as possible. He immediately regretted his choice of words, however, as Gaston's greedy eyes flashed to him.

"Did you just threaten me, squirt?" he hissed. "Ha! Let's see who the lady wants to mess around with after I'm through with you..."

"The lady is right here, and I'm staying with Jim!" Ariel suddenly burst out to the general surprise of everyone. "Now let me go in the next two seconds or you'll regret it" she said in a harsh voice that Jim appraised at the moment.

"What's a sweetheart like you gonna do? Besides please me, of course... AHH!" Gaston let out a scream of pain as Ariel pulled out a fork from her little bag and stabbed him in the hand so that he immediately let her go.

Jim let out a bark of laughter and tossed a pile of coins haphazardly on the desk before grabbing Ariel and booking it out the door before Gaston had even pulled the fork out of his bleeding hand.

"LeFou! Catch them!" he roared, and the shortest and dopiest out of the gang of thugs began to scurry after them as fast as his little legs could carry him.

"That was fantastic, Ariel, wow!" Jim praised her as they ran through the crowded streets, pushing past people who gave them odd looks but went back to their duties shortly after.

"Who knew dinglehoppers could be such good weapons!" Ariel exclaimed, and Jim simply laughed at her weird terminology before letting out a cry of surprise as the little creep LeFou had leaped onto his back.

"Gaston will beat you down, I can't wait to watch! And have a turn with this one, if he lets me..." he cackled, and Jim let out a noise of disgust before with Ariel's help he managed to pry the guy off of him and shove him into a stall.

"Sorry!" Ariel called out to the owner as they picked up and began running again. They could hear shouts behind them, and realized that Gaston might have finally managed to begin the chase as well.

Ariel, however, wasn't as used to her new legs as she should have been for an event such as this, and thus she stumbled a bit over the hem of her dress and in general was slowing them down slightly.

Jim turned around to help her up and unfortunately caught a glimpse of an enraged Gaston barreling towards them. With a yelp, he scooped Ariel up into his arms and took off again, reaching the stable where their carriage was being kept.

"Sorry, gotta go, already paid you, bye!" Jim barked to the old guy who ran the place; he tossed Ariel into the carriage and gripped the reins, smacking them harshly and setting the horses on their way at a rather quick gallop.

Ariel held on to Jim for dear life as they swerved out of the stables and into the cobbled streets; she could make out Gaston shouting as they kicked up some dust in his face on their way. Soon after, she realized that they had left him far enough behind for Jim to ease up on the horses as they headed towards the castle.

Laughing, she realized her arms were still around Jim's neck and she pretended not to notice. Jim, at that very moment noticing the same thing, followed her lead and remained content with her clutching him close.


That night at dinner the two didn't bring up the incident until Odette remarked something about how pretty Ariel's new necklace was, and asked how they had come across it.

With that, Jim had begun to tell the tale and all present at the table listened with rapt attention, laughing at all the right bits and gasping where appropriate.

"That Gaston is such a rabble rouser, ooh I just wish I could catch him doing something so horrible I can punish him for it!" Eric complained.

"Harassing a young woman isn't horrible enough for you?" Odette remarked, although she was in part teasing her husband for his lack of understanding of such matters.

The meal went well for the most part, all but for one particular thing that Jim had noticed coming from his brother. The normally detached Dimitri was staring at Ariel intently, and then back to Jim. He had been much more alert and listened carefully to Jim's story, something that Jim wasn't really expecting him to do.

After dessert, Eric and Odette retired for bed and Grimsby followed soon after, claiming that he needed his rest for a hard day's work starting early the next morning.

That left Jim, Ariel, and Dimitri alone in the small parlor where they had eaten their cake and sipped their dessert wine; Dimitri sat in the large wingbacked chair in front of the fireplace while Jim and Ariel shared the small loveseat across from it.

"You've grown close."

Jim nearly dropped his extremely delicate crystal glass; he had not expected his brother to speak, and he was pretty sure these were the first direct words Dimitri had spoken to him in days.

"Pardon?" he asked, his voice cracking a bit.

"You and this girl. You've grown close" Dimitri repeated, nodding his head slightly towards Ariel whose knuckles turned white as she gripped her dress out of trepidation at the words to come; she did not like where this was going, and neither did Jim.

"What of it? We have fun together, I like being around her and spending time with her" Jim admitted defensively.

"Remember we're on a mission. We can't stay for much longer... We have other places to look" Dimitri said, his voice hard. Jim bristled at this, setting his glass on the side table angrily.

"You're just saying that because you've probably run out of books to research in order to fix Aurora! You don't give a damn about mom, I know you too well!" Jim countered, not really caring that Ariel was hearing all of this.

"Don't pretend you know how I feel about mother, I want to find her as much as you do! Maybe even more so, because I'm pretty sure I won't be getting Aurora back. She's got nothing to do with it" Dimitri began, "although maybe she does. I'm only telling you this because I see how you act with this girl you've known for what, five days at most? Six? And it's like I'm looking at myself. I'm seeing it on repeat, what happened... And the world's a cruel enough place to ruin it all for me, so it definitely will do it for you too!"

Jim sat back, stunned at his brother's apparent concern for him. Was it really the same between him and Ariel? He cast a glance at her from the side, noting her eyebrows set in concentration as she watched his older brother lecture him.

"Who's Aurora?" she suddenly spoke. Dimitri faltered a bit from speaking to his brother and looked over at the redhead. "What happened to her?"

"It's none of your business" Dimitri spat.

"You loved her, didn't you? And she's... gone?" Ariel continued as if his venomous tone didn't even phase her. Dimitri and Jim both blinked, astonished at her perceptiveness.

"It's nothing you would understand. It's... out of this world" Jim tried to explain. He wasn't expecting the flash of determination that appeared on Ariel's face as she grabbed his hand, squeezing it before turning to Dimitri.

"I do understand, actually. And perhaps I can help."

Well there you go, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this lovely little chapter, and I'd love to hear your theories on what might occur in the story next!

I just had to throw Gaston in there, of course. He's such an imbecile, I loved writing him! xD

Please leave me a review, and a nice comment about what you guys liked and so on. Also which other characters you'd like to see appear in the fic next!