The first thing I'd like to say is that this story right here has been the experience for me in that I have never before written anything like this. I'm not sure that even Bubbles could compare for me. While it is a story on a mythological being, nothing I ever intended to just be a oneshot has turned out this long. Yet I think it needed it. I've broken it into four parts, all will be uploaded at once. Three of the parts are lengthy, but shorter than Love Takes Time, for those of you familiar with it. The last part is somewhat shorter, and I expect you'll understand why when you get there.

I hope you enjoy this story everyone. I'll be back to my main fics now, I just wanted to get this finished and up as it has a special place to me.


Sêl Euraidd

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.

- Washington Irving

Roy Mustang stood with dark eyes fixed upon the tame sea, so flat, like azure glass. So serene looking, beckoning… but that was the lie, wasn't it. The promises of serenity the sea laid before man were far too like the water of its creation, slipping through your fingers until all you had as a memory of what you'd once held was the dampness on your palms and the sting of salt in the unseen cuts it left behind.

The purr and cutting of a truck engine outside caused him little pause as he watched the ocean laid bare and distant before his eyes. The knock at the side door even less pause of mind as he absently called that it was open.

"So let's get this – damn, Mustang! How far back did this place set you?"

The black-haired man in question didn't shift from where he was slumped elegantly against the frame of the patio deck doors that were thrown open to welcome in the warm sea breeze. "Not enough." He muttered, not really caring if he was heard.

It had sounded like a rhetorical question anyway, and sure enough his best friend, Maes Hughes, didn't miss a beat in his ovations.

Maes was currently having a face-off with a wooden statue of a seal that was nearly as tall as he was. "It needed a better interior decorator."

Roy bristled at the words, tearing his gaze away from the décor in question and blindly staring back at the ocean with hard eyes.

"Why are you selling it, anyway?" Maes asked, unaware of the hard set of Roy's shoulders.

Roy's eyes slipped closed against the painful wrench inside that threatened him with the tears he'd promised he'd never shed. "Doesn't matter." The words even tasted flat in his mouth, and sudden inspiration drove him over to the table along the wall where the decanter of port sat waiting for him.

Maes frowned as he watched Roy toss back not one, not two, but three shots of the alcohol in succession without so much as a blink. "So…" his mind stumbled in circles as he searched for a way to ask what was clearly wrong and not to get his head chewed off.

A likely occurrence if Roy Mustang was suddenly downing port like it was water.

"Oh for fuck's sake just get the boxes so we can start packing and I can get the hell out of here!" Roy snapped at him, the hand nursing his fifth glass of port shaking somewhat.

He watched as Maes gave him a calculating look before turning to go back out to the truck to get the boxes in question. His head tipped down with a sigh – Maes wasn't offended, they both knew each other better than that. But he cursed himself for giving the man a reason to pry later on.

One thing was for sure… he was going to need another glass of port.

As he idly poured it he found his eyes drawn to the wooden seal, arching up out of hewn waves with graceful curves and large playful eyes. His own eyes slipped closed once more as he felt his heart seize painfully in his chest.

"At least… you're free…"

X

Tis the sunset of life gives me mystical lore, And coming events cast their shadows before.

- Thomas Campbell

One month prior…

"New to town?" The bartender asked as he passed a frosty beer bottle across the countertop.

Roy snatched the beer up, the chill of condensation sending a ghost of a shiver up his arm. "Just this morning." He took a hearty swig of the stout brew, a curl of warmth spreading inside him despite the chilled nature of the drink.

"Sight-seeing?"

"Living, actually." Roy answered and swept his eyes briefly about the bar – and its floor littered with peanut hulls – before turning his attention back to the person speaking to him. "I bought some two room cottage down by the bay."

The bartender looked more than intrigued. "Ah, the old Aldridge place. Nice couple they were. It's been vacant for almost two years now, thought it'd never get sold. Everyone 'round here is always looking for the fancy big houses on the beach."

"It needs some fixing up." Roy shrugged, "nothing some nails and paint won't take care of."

"What brings you there in the first place?"

Roy's fingers had absently started peeling and plucking at the label of his beer as he directed his gaze to the shelves of neatly arranged alcohols in their shiny bottles. "Needed a change of scenery for the summer. Needed to get away from everything back home and find some measure of peace."

The bartender hid a smile, "so you buy a cottage on a bay right as tourist season is about to start up?"

Roy laughed, "well, when you put it like that…"

"Good luck." The bartender chuckled and inclined his head politely to excuse himself to attend to another customer when he paused and looked back at Roy as if just remembering something important. And really, he was. "Rona bay?"

Roy's head tilted to the side a fraction, brow furrowed as he attempted to recall… he shook his head suddenly. "No. Seolh."

The bartender's lips pursed a moment before he said quietly, again, "good luck", and walked away, under his breath whispering, "the tides are warm."

Roy had to wonder if he was imagining the sudden sincerity of the normally throw-away phrase. But as the bartender immersed himself in his job, Roy immersed himself in his beer.

Later that night Roy had gotten his hands – quite literally – on a redheaded girl of slim proportions and enticing curves. He wasn't sure what her name was, and he wasn't entirely sure he knew what his name was… all he knew was that she was the tangible fire of alcohol, and that fire would be his tonight.

From the moment he brought her back to his place and they fell into an enthusiastic tangle on the bed, he knew nothing more.

And when the small cottage filled with cardboard boxes and two twice-wasted individuals fell silent, the ocean continued to creep upon and fall away from the deck with the timely rushing of waves. The ever-warming currents beckoning to more than just the humans who would soon gladly clog the shores in search of sun and surf.

...Two days later…

A satisfied groan escaped Roy as he sat back with an air of accomplishment. That had been the last piece of Tupperware to store away in the cabinets. In fact, it had been the last piece of anything that he still needed to unpack and put away. He was officially done moving in, and he felt that earned him a beer and a trip down to the beach he'd been pointedly avoiding until now.

He knew temptation when he saw it, and he knew that if he'd gone down to the beach before he had finished unpacking, he'd never unpack at all.

So grabbing himself the required and well-deserved beer, he headed down to the beach in nothing but his pair of abused khaki cargo shorts. He really didn't care one way or the other how he was dressed, he was seeing a lot of people running around on what was in theory his front lawn in far less.

If it weren't for the fact that this was like watching the opening scene to a porno for free and in real-time, he'd be wondering how difficult it was to purchase the beach of Seolh Bay and turn the entire area into his private property. As it was… he would tolerate the general near-nakedness. Difficult though it would be. He couldn't help but snort at the thought as he thumbed the cap off his beer.

And so he settled for handing out more than a handful of appreciative looks, one of which caused a jogger to run right into a toddler and create a general appearance of disarray on "his front lawn", and he ambled his way down to the surf until his feet reached the cooler, wetter sand.

He was never not in the mood for snatching up a date or three, and on a beach like this with so many tourists he couldn't foresee a shortage of loose, unattached women. Or just loose women in general. But as he couldn't foresee a shortage, he'd rather the beach for right now.

Let the population work themselves up a bit before he snatched them up to enjoy that pent up fire.

"And this is exactly why I left." Roy drew in a lungful of the salty sea air and breathed out in satisfaction. Taking a long drink of his beer he couldn't help but smile as the tepid ocean current rolled up over his feet to steal away the sand on which he stood.

Yes… this was exactly the vacation home he had needed.

With a refreshed spring in his step that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the incoming waves kept sweeping the sand out from under him, Roy began to amble his way along the shoreline with his beer and a smile.

The entire remainder of the day he spent out there in the surf. Only having gone back to his cottage for sunscreen, a sandwich, or another beer. It was mindless relaxation, and heaven on earth only knew he needed it. Plans were for tourists, letting his mind drift on the waves was all he needed.

Especially after a day intimately spent with Tupperware.

He was strolling along the dark, wet sand as the tendrils of darkness began to dim the bright sunshine of the tropical paradise. His hands were empty of beer for once, shoved without similarity into the uppermost pockets of his khakis, and his eyes rested not on the sea for once, but the trees beyond the shore.

Once both their shade and the beach had been clogged with tourists; now the seagulls-without-wings were riding the currents back to hotels, leaving the beach to their feathered kindred and the locals.

It was one such local that hailed him not two miles from his cottage, around the far bend of the bay which also happened to be the point where other homes began. There was oddly no other living structure in the bay parameters itself aside from his cottage. Not that he minded the privacy.

"You just moved in, right?"

Roy stopped, eyes picking out the man who was now crossing the dryer sand towards him. "I did."

He was a stocky fellow, ocean-weathered skin and a toothy smile. A glance behind him showed a woman and several children of varying ages, and approaching them what looked to be another family.

"Name's Howard." He said, sticking out his hand welcomingly.

"Roy." Roy replied, shaking the hand dutifully but with no lack of sincerity. "You're a neighbor?"

Howard gave a bit of a nod, "that I am." And he glanced over his shoulder, turning sideways to the bonfire that was just beginning to crackle to life at the hands of who was probably his son. "You want to join us?" He jerked a thumb towards the scene, "we were going to have a bonfire barbeque with the Masons'. They live a bit farther up the beach."

Roy hesitated, watching as the proposed Masons' arrived and began chatting things up with Howard's family as red plastic Dixie cups changed hands.

"Don't be shy." Howard laughed and began to walk back over to the gathering. "You just moved in, I doubt you're in any condition to be saying no to a meal and conversation."

Well… the man had a point there. Roy hadn't done any shopping for real food yet, having survived off of beer and sandwiches purchased from a convenience store since he had arrived. That being said, he buried his reluctance for the getting-to-know-you human contact he'd come here hoping to avoid for at least a week longer, and followed after Howard.

After all, if a man wanted to live in seclusion, he chose a city or the timberland, not a beach.

And so it was that Roy was officially inducted into the locals who resided nearest Seolh Bay. He met Howard's wife Rachel, and children Stephen and Jane; and the Masons', Bill and his wife Lucia, and their daughter Brittany.

A burger was added to the flames of the bonfire for him, and that was the final stage of the acceptance ritual.

"How are you liking it so far?" Rachel enquired of the newest arrival as she passed him the standard issue Dixie cup.

Roy took it with a nod of gratitude and settled back into the beach chair he'd been offered. "So far? Very much."

Bill studied him over the rim of his Dixie cup, vaguely sloshing the liquid inside. "Where'd you live before this?"

"On the mainland, landlocked, and concrete parks." Roy revealed with a slight grimace. "I definitely needed the change." And he glanced over his shoulder to where the ocean now rolled in to the backdrop of an inky sky and rising moon. "Needed somewhere more peaceful, even if there are tourists darting about most of the day."

"So you've not heard the stories?" Rachel asked in what seemed to be honest shock as she leaned forward to check on the hamburgers.

"Rachel." Howard's tone was clearly reproving of the topic.

"Oh hush, Howard." Rachel smirked at him. "You grew up with the stories, I can't help it if you're tired of them. But Roy here is new. And everyone deserves to hear the stories about a place they move to."

"And a place like this always has them." Lucia remarked with a fond seeming smile.

Roy frowned and took a contemplative sip of his beer before answering. "Can't say I know what sort of stories you're talking about."

"Kids –" Howard started up.

"No way!" Brittany declared in unison with Jane. Stephen on the other hand rolled his eyes and got up to leave, muttering something about "not this rot again, I'm out of here".

"The stories about the selkies of Seolh Bay." Rachel whispered in as gossipy a tone as a female could manage.

Which said something about the woman, as she was also manning the barbeque.

Roy frowned even further at the word, head tilting to the side and then up again as he mulled the word over in his mind. Selkie… selkie… it rung a dusty bell in the back of his mind, but he couldn't seem to recall what they were. "Haven't, no." He replied slowly and then stared at her. "Selkie?"

"Definitely a city boy." Lucia laughed.

"Trust me," Howard piped up, "nonsense the lot of it. You'd be better off believing tales about mermaids, and that's what these women will feed you if you let them."

Rachel rolled her eyes, but winked at Roy. "It's the time of year to watch out for them. The currents coming in are warm this time of year."

Roy still felt no more enlightened than he had, if anything he felt more perplexed. But any chance of asking the woman for clarification fell to the wayside as Bill and Howard loudly redirected the conversation to fishing, much to the disappointment of the women.

But Roy sat and ate politely, allowing and answering questions, asking his own, and in general participating only as need be in the conversation. Quite honestly the clinchers to his coming had been the meal, not the conversation. Though he would have been lying to himself if he denied he wasn't interested in this selkie thing.

What the hell were they again? Howard had said something about mermaids… but he was fairly certain despite the blanks he was drawing that selkies were not mermaids. So what then? Other purported sea-dwelling beings that were a lure of lust dreamt up by fishermen whose eyes weren't what they once were?

It seemed likely given the clear delight the females had shown towards the topic and the disinterest of the men. Worthiness issues, much?

Roy carefully hid an indulgent smirk.

Howard and Bill had gone up to Howard's place to get more beer when the chance to clear up some of the confusion presented itself. And Roy was quick to pounce.

"I'm sorry, but what is a selkie, exactly?"

Rachel was not the only one of the female party who seemed to perk up after the mind numbing effects of listening to regaling tales of fishing.

"They are seals said to be able to shed their skins and become human."

Roy's deadpan reaction was not untypical. "Seals."

Rachel nodded.

Lucia smiled at him encouragingly, "we grow up here hearing tales about them. Seals that come to shore and shed their skins to bathe under the light of the sun or moon."

"And they're supposed to be beautiful!" Brittany piped up from where she was sprawled on her stomach across the sand.

"Yes, both the men and women selkies are said to be quite enchanting in appearance. Thus their appeal to humans." Rachel added in an almost offhanded way. "And ability to seduce."

"But they'd still be seals." Roy pointed out, operating clearly on theory here and by no means believing the idea. "I never thought that… an animal?" He tipped his head briefly in the direction of the two pre-teen girls.

"We know all about the stories, Mister Mustang." Jane snickered.

Roy wasn't quite sure how to take that, and spent a moment staring at the girl uncertainly.

"They are both." Rachel waved a hand dismissively. "To become human, they shed their skins. To return to their form as a seal, they just put the skin back on."

Roy couldn't help but think that were this all true, selkies in a human form would be quite short. "That's rather… bizarre. Putting a skin back on. Not to mention carrying around a sealskin would look a little out of place."

Lucia nodded, smiling a bit. "One of the reasons their skins shrink to become smaller, until the time comes that they return to being seals. In all the stories, the theft of a selkie's sealskin comes at the price of enslaving the selkie."

"Enslaving?" Roy was beginning to wonder just how much more bizarre this was, or these purported creatures were.

"Holding the skin gives the holder power over the selkie. Has to follow orders, things like that. And as long as a human holds the sealskin hostage, the selkie is bound to human form." Lucia explained.

Roy wasn't sure he at all liked that idea. "The things drunk sailors think up."

"Don't be a spoilsport!" Brittany reprimanded from her place in the sand. "It's fun to think that things like that exist out in the sea."

Roy tipped back the rest of his beer in answer.

Rachel meanwhile had turned her gaze toward the ocean. "It's said they come in with the warm tides… but I've never seen one. And nor has anyone else… even foolish girls who go to the ocean and shed seven tears." She jerked her head 'round to stare meaningfully at a suddenly embarrassed and giggling Jane.

"Seven tears?" Roy questioned, unable to help himself.

"Supposed to work for females, so the stories go." Rachel shrugged. "Shed seven tears and a selkie will come to you."

"Usually as a lover." Jane giggled immaturely as Brittany made a shocked noise.

Roy was suddenly glad he was far done with high school.

Lucia rolled her eyes at her daughter and her daughter's friend before looking at the ocean pensively. "The last story of selkies in Seolh Bay was two hundred or so years ago. Back then they used to be in great number, so the tales go. "

"What happened to them?" Roy couldn't help but ask. In theory still of course! Even as a kid he'd never courted such fantasies, he wasn't about to start now. But this was far more interesting than fishing stories.

"No one really knows…" Lucia gave a soft sigh.

Rachel's smile turned a bit sad. "Back around that time there was a lot of seal hunting occurring. For meat, and oil, and their pelts. I remember reading about it in history class… it always made me so sad to think that maybe all those seals weren't really just seals."

Roy stayed only long enough for another beer and to finally eat his hamburger, mind idly processing the selkie lore he'd just been imparted. It wasn't much really, just enough to start anyone's mind into the realm of creative imagination and suppositions. And he wasn't about to even go there. So he didn't reflect on it too hard, allowing the alcohol to further dull his senses that were already being calmed by the background music the ocean provided.

Some of them had fallen asleep by the time Roy departed their company with handshakes and smiles and well wishes. And he made his way down the beach back towards his cottage, once again traveling down the wetter strip of sand to feel the water lick at his feet.

If anything it helped ensure he was awake enough that he wouldn't pass out in the sand. He really hadn't lived here long enough to get away with that.

He was just about to turn up to the dryer portions to reach his cottage when he paused and looked out towards the ocean with a quizzical tilt of his head. "Seven tears huh…" the waters were still tepid, even this late after nightfall… the warm current. Suddenly he shook his head with a laugh and sauntered up the beach towards his cottage. "Selkies, as if."

The warmth of the ocean current appeared not to share his doubts as it continued to flow into Seolh Bay once more.

X

The cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears, or the sea.

- Isak Dinesen

The following day Roy woke with a spectacular headache involving spears of deliciously acute pain, and blurred, sparking vision. It made the trip to the bathroom an eventful one, especially when he discovered that one of the walls he'd stumbled into had once had a large hole in it that had only been glossed over with thin pressboard and a coat of paint.

Only after he managed to pick himself out of his own cottages' insulation was he able to make it to the bathroom at last, and subsequently up the number of aspirin he swallowed down dry.

Needless to say, as he stood there with headache slowly fading and hands on his hips, he was not pleased. There was now a gaping hole in his wall where there had not been one earlier, and this meant that he would no longer be keeping his self-made plans to spend the entire day on the beach – he'd planned to make good on Howard's offer to allow him the use of a jet ski.

Now he needed to visit the hardware store again.

And so with more than a little grumbling, Roy trooped out to his very manly thank you very much bicycle with attached basket and set out wearing his pride high about his collar. What? He needed that basket! Bicycles didn't exactly come with trunk space.

…damn it.

Pedaling into town he left his bike against the wall of the hardware store and entered feeling just a bit sullen about his morning being ruined by his wall. What idiot building inspector didn't catch something like that? One thing was for certain, when he felt more awake he was calling the realtor and giving the vapid creature a piece of his mind.

Brushing off the offer for assistance Roy stalked his way about the store buying the things he'd need to repair the wall. Including some more insulation to replace what had been knocked out all over his floor when he'd had to remove himself from the booby-trap.

"Adding on a small addition?" The clerk asked unwitting of just what had spurred this shopping trip.

The smile Roy gave him was borderline sadistic. "Yes, a funeral pyre for my realtor and her incompetent underlings."

It was the fastest that Roy had ever been rung up at a register, and as he loaded his bicycle basket high with his wall repair supplies he felt that this 'funeral pyre' explanation merited further study and therefore practice.

He then biked back to the cottage to give the wall back as much pain as it had given him.

And he grumbled to see that though it was barely two hours past dawn, the beach was already beginning to fill. He did wish he could be right out there with them, out on the ocean today preferably … but as it was he parked his bicycle up against the cottage and hauled in his purchases without a second look to the sea and its visitors.

Only once he had grabbed himself one of the last remaining sandwiches did he get to work yanking free the ruined portions of the wall. Insulation was replaced, new sturdy boards affixed into the support beams with a nail gun, and paint was applied in three coats – despite knowing it was a lost cause to get this new paint to match the more faded shade of the rest of the cottage.

Two hours later and he wiped the sheen of sweat from his forehead with the hand holding the paintbrush, not caring if he got more paint on himself in the process. He'd have to take a shower and change clothes as it was, he was covered in insulation debris, cedar dust, and paint and primer.

At least laborious though it had been, it had been more agreeable than whatever he would have done were he back on the mainland. Even fixing his wall seemed like a vacation compared to the constant hectic life he'd led there.

Sometimes it came as no wonder to him why he drank so much.

He snorted wryly, it was hardly the most prominent reason… but he didn't want to think of what was. No, some things were better left on the mainland for good. He needed this vacation, to get away from it all. To remember that he was still young and this was no time in his life to be exposing himself constantly to coronary inducing situations.

Wiping more sweat from his brow before it could settle into his eyes he set about cleaning up from his home maintenance project, and then dumped himself into an ice cold shower that smelled faintly of salt… but everything smelled like salt this close to the sea.

Seven minutes later Roy was feeling refreshed, and was free from all paint that he could reasonably see. And as he was going straight down to the beach after visiting Howard to borrow that jet ski, he didn't bother much at all with toweling dry after his shower. Only pulled on his swim trunks and grabbed the sunscreen before heading out the side door.

Only to head back a few minutes later to grab the beer he'd forgotten.

Eventually he did arrive at the home he vaguely recognized in daylight to be belonging to Howard and his family. Not that he needed to worry that he was at the wrong place, because as soon as he reached within what seemed to be the customary twenty yards of "private property" around the homes on the beach, Jane was flying out the screen door to greet him enthusiastically.

"Mister Mustang! You came back again!" She delighted as she dashed down the porch steps to trot over to him.

Roy smiled at her nervously, there was something about the way the girl was eyeing him right now, and the enthusiastic way she'd greeted him that made him think that perhaps he needed to make up a story that he had a girlfriend. "Hello, Jane. Is your father home?"

Jane's face only fell for a moment before she was smiling brightly again. "Yeah, what's up?"

Roy had never really understood that expression… it seemed rather obvious to anyone with eyes what was above them, but he had long ago given up trying to understand teenagers these days. "Came to borrow that jet ski he offered to loan me for the day."

"DAD!" Jane hollered over her shoulder before smirking at Roy. "Off to find selkies?"

He really didn't understand women for that matter either. "Pardon?"

"You know, selkies." And here was where her gaze turned disapproving. "Beautiful women?"

Roy rolled his eyes. "I think not. I don't believe in such myths, I only wanted to talk about them last night because it was more interesting that your father's fishing stories."

Despite herself, Jane had to agree with that. "You sure you're not a selkie?" She suddenly frowned, looking him over. "Now that I see you during the day you're rather handsome. Male selkies are supposed to be as beautiful as the females."

"If I were a selkie, I'd not appreciate being called beautiful." Roy informed her, and was only too glad to sidestep the girl when Howard came out of the house.

"Ah, Roy!" Howard greeted cheerfully, and waved him forward. "Is Jane already trying to latch her claws into you?"

"Dad!"

Roy chuckled at her indignant yell and raised his beer-free hand in a submissive gesture. "I assure you that if she were she's far too young for me. And I like living, Howard."

Howard nodded sagely and clapped him on the shoulder. "Good man. Now about this jet ski…"

It took both Roy and Howard to haul the jet ski down to the water on its wheeled trailer. But once they had Howard grabbed the attached rope and spike and went to anchor it into the sand while Roy drug the trailer out into deep enough water that the jet ski began to float. It was sweaty work, but worth it – at least in Roy's opinion as he'd be the one enjoying the fruits of their joint labor.

"Just make sure to watch out for the reef on the north tip of the island!" Howard called from the beach. "The coast guard will laugh and take their time rescuing you if you get caught up on one of the corals!"

Roy waved as he stuck his beer into the drink-holder and swung himself astride the seat. "Will do! See you later!"

And Roy revved the engine to life as he heard Howard call out for him to have a good time, and then he was motoring the watercraft out across the waters of the bay and towards open sea as the island began to shrink behind him.

"I hope you told him not to suck any selkies up through the motor." Jane told her father as he sauntered back up to the house, her eyes on the ever diminishing figure of Roy Mustang.

Howard groaned as if in true pain. "You're as bad as your mother. Selkies do not exist. They're as real as Santa Clause."

"Santa's not real?" Jane gasped dramatically while rolling her eyes.

X

Roy was currently slowly motoring around the coastline about a mile out. Seolh Bay was to his left, and what he understood to be an area of coast belonging to a national park to his right. Even from here he could see the trees looked thicker off in that direction, and there appeared to be several sheer cliffs.

"…might have to go hiking one day." Roy mused to himself as he set the jet ski engine to idling. Reaching forward he grabbed his beer and tossed back another mouthful only slightly cringing at the faint taste of seawater underneath the brew.

One thing was for certain, he'd never need worry that he wasn't getting enough salt in his diet this summer. Sunscreen on the other hand…

Abandoning his beer he fished out the bottle from the Velcro security of his swim trunks and flipped open the cap. Squirting a generous amount of the thick cream he rubbed himself with it as liberally as possible in all the areas he could reach.

He had fair skin, and he knew that the lobster look was one that he wasn't looking to pull off.

Once the sunscreen was tucked securely back away Roy's head tilted to the side a moment as he thought. And then in a sudden executive decision he cut the jet ski's engine. The sea was calm right now, and out this far there were barely any waves at all, the water not yet reaching the breakers out this far.

Which meant he was comfortable abandoning the jet ski a moment and knowing that when he resurfaced it would not be far at all from where he'd left it.

Which was fortunate, for he didn't want to explain to Howard that he'd lost the jet ski.

"Hope there's no hungry sharks." Roy muttered as he swung one leg over the seat so he fully faced the water. And as he dove in headfirst he couldn't help but bite back a laugh at the thought that he would probably have a better chance of seeing a selkie than having a shark attack him in this part of the ocean.

And true to thought, there were no sharks nor selkies underneath the water.

There was nothing.

A great expanse of nothing but clear blue water, distorted only by obscure white films of unknown origin. It was easy to see in all directions, up got brighter, down got darker, but to all sides there was blue.

It occurred to Roy that this part of the area around the island was probably not the ideal location to be finding fish or such things. There were no coral reefs out in this direction, and the only thing ahead was the bay; a bay which was constantly being disrupted by swimmers, jet skiers, boaters, and the like. Not exactly idyllic grounds for marine life to willingly venture into.

Satisfied that there were no sharks, Roy surfaced to breathe, sweeping his wet hair back out of his face and looking around. No fins… he was good.

This was exactly what he needed, open ocean without the risk of running into toddlers. He would worry about picking up loose women later tonight. Right now was for the fulfillment of a different need. And so he set out swimming about through the water for purely the feel of freedom and singularity it gave him.

There was nothing quite like being alone in the ocean to bring peace and perspective.

He spent more time under the water than above, just cutting his way through the water and relishing in the burn it put on his muscles. Fitness gyms just never quite measured up to the real resisting power of nature at its finest. And when he took a rest, more often than not he was below the water once more, just relaxing into the blue embrace that no longer stung mildly at his eyes. It was so easy to just hold his breath and float, letting the water soothe and wash away every care he ever had.

At one point he believed he saw a fish or five out further into deeper water, but he wasn't sure. He didn't linger to find out either, inspired to go try and see some marine life now. There was something about the shadows of the unknown that drove a man to wanting to see it for himself… now.

And so he once again kicked back to the surface, sweeping wet hair from his face and stroking over to where the jet ski floated not far from him. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how to mount the thing once more from the water, as initially it kept tipping towards him precariously, but manage he did.

Roy Mustang was not to be outwitted by a jet ski after all.

Once aboard he livened the engine back up and then pointed the watercraft northward. He'd avoid getting the jet ski caught up on the coral reefs, but he wanted to see them.

As coral reefs were popular sightseeing destinations for tourists, Roy was unsurprised to find several groups of snorkelers who were under the direction of their respective tour guides. He gained a few curious looks, and far more appreciative ones before he circled the jet ski back out more towards open ocean to "park" it out of the way of the reefs.

The water was a bit choppier here, this close to the coral reefs, but it would not present undue hazard and leave him with no choice but to call the coast guard and suffer their delight at his predicament.

Not caring for, nor needing a snorkel mask, Roy cut the engine before diving cleanly into the water as is. He could hold his breath long enough, secure enough in his own swimming ability not to feel the need for a breathing tube.

Once he'd swum in far enough he came up to take a breath, ignoring the people who were watching him curiously before diving under the surface and kicking his way down much farther than the tourists so he could view the coral and fish that were suddenly dancing before his eyes without the interference of other humans nearby.

Whereas the open ocean where he'd been before had been nothing but clear blue in all directions, here the coral reefs made a vibrant display against the blue waters, making them almost seem washed out in comparison to the fiery reds, blazing oranges, stark greens, and other colors of the coral.

And that wasn't even counting the fish.

There were hundreds… no, thousands of them. Teeming in tightly knit schools that flashed silver, red, yellow, blue, every color imaginable. Or lone fish wandered aimlessly, no less a rainbow to behold. Starfish and seahorses were not absent either, nor the sea urchins or clinging plants.

A miniature world contained in just a small part of another.

For some time Roy swam about the reef, trying to determine the exact extent of it in between surfacing for air and checking to be sure the jet ski had not drifted too far.

But as the day grew longer, so did the coming tide out to sea come sooner. And while the tourists had already departed at the point in time a nurse shark made an appearance and they lost their nerve despite the shark's relatively harmless nature, Roy had stayed. But nurse sharks were one thing, the coming tide was another.

So he turned from his sightseeing of the island that he'd claimed as his summer home and began swimming back through the water towards the jet ski. When he reached it, it didn't take him half as long as it did the first time to get back onto it. But he didn't set back out for Seolh Bay straight away.

Instead he sat there dripping wet, looking around at it all.

Yes… this had been just what he'd needed today. Sure there'd been a slight hitch with a spontaneous wall repair, but the better part of his day had been spent out pushing the jet ski to its limits across the ocean, the exhilaration of the wind and the surf splashing up around him. And then the calming effects of just being in the ocean.

Perhaps it seemed too simple, too silly… but it was what he needed.

With the lateness of the hour however, Roy started the jet ski back up and headed it back towards Seolh Bay to make it in before the tide got tricky this far out at sea.

When he pulled into the bay it didn't take him long to find where Howard had anchored the trailer for the jet ski, and it seemed that he wouldn't need to handle dragging the thing back up to Howard's place on his own, Jane was running down the beach to help… he wasn't sure whether to be pleased it was her.

"See any selkies?" She asked laughingly as she helped Roy with the jet ski.

How had Roy known that that was where her thoughts would immediately go? "Not even a seal. Quite a lot of fish though."

"You were out there a while."

"Sometimes a man just needs to be alone in the sea." Was Roy's vague reply, and the two of them buckled down to working on hauling the jet ski out of the water so they could haul it to the house.

Once they had succeeded he was beginning to sweat again, and was more than happy to depart for his cottage after thanking and then politely declining Howard's offer to come over for dinner in two hours. He wanted a shower, a hot one, dry clothes, and a greasy meal at the bar where he could pick up some company for the night that wasn't family oriented.

And so he trekked off across the relatively hot sand to his cottage as families began to fold up their umbrellas and haul in the inner tubes of children.

X

My choice was to go there and find him beyond all people.

Beyond all people in the world.

- Ernest Hemingway

The sea current was warm, sensuously warm. The way the water caressed over his skin was bliss. What other current could be as loved, as faithfully traveled and called home as this one? The sounds of other sea life and of his kindred not far behind was a gentle music on the slowly rushing flow of the current that guided them towards Seolh Bay.

A place where the delights of land and the humans who walked it coupled with the hazards of his existence. But centuries of life did not go wasted, nor did the occurrences of the past go unrecognized.

They too, were creatures of adaptation… and cunning.

He heard his friends, his family call out to him. Call out to him that he was going too far too swift, and too far towards the east. Seolh Bay was dangerous. But he knew this, and let the current take him as it would. For something deeper ingrained in his soul called out to him louder… instinct.

And instinct thrummed through him with every pulse of his heart, sending him forward. Knowing that this was right… this would be okay…

Despite the increased risk of emerging before nightfall and the sleep of man, he would not suffer a consequence. He was, after all, two hundred and thirty-six years old. He knew a thing or two about survival and cunning.

When the warm current released him into the bay he swam on, the voices of his kindred no longer in his ears. The voices of the other sea life growing fainter. He pressed on, keen eyes piercing through the murkier water of the bay, so distorted with sand. He was growing closer to the shore, which meant he had best put his tricks to use.

He found his target in the shape of a man just floating there on the surface about five feet above him.

An interested chirp trilled through the water as he circled vertically upward in classic curiosity. This man was about the right size, and he was hanging onto a surfboard it looked like. Yes, it would do nicely.

Large golden eyes filled with a playful light, another chirp leaving him as he gave a sharp snap of his tail to catapult up through the water with the speed of a barracuda's deadly strike. But his aim was not to kill and feed… it was the man's swim trunks.

Before the human could have possibly registered what was happening, he'd grabbed the trunks in his teeth and yanked them off the poor human who'd lingered in the water too long.

But now he had camouflage. And he swam off quickly, a series of cheerful and celebratory trills echoing in his wake.

Over two centuries of life, he knew better than to feel bad for stealing a human's clothes in order to blend in. And as far as any of his kind were concerned, the humans deserved it. Survival of the most intelligent species… and he'd certainly won that round.

Swimming into a portion of the bay farthest from where he could feel the ripples of human activity he finally slowed to a stop. A quick check of the water depth let him know he'd be just fine, and without a second thought, he transformed.

Human shape always came naturally, though secondary it was.

His head was just above the water for necessary breathing purposes, and the swim trunks were released from now human teeth and into the very helpful hands the species came equipped with. A bit of ungainly stumbling and he managed to hike them up, soft curses leaving his lips regarding humans not being at all fit for grace in the water.

However, satisfied that he looked as normal as any other beachgoer he could now see as he glanced around, he began to haul himself out of the ocean. No one seemed to notice that he had by all respects come out of nowhere with a pair of swim trunks in his teeth.

"Blind race." He muttered under his breath in a voice that retained just the barest hint of the musicality of his true voice.

As he reached the beach, no longer embraced in the ocean in any amount, he looked around calmly. People had noticed him by now, but their gazes reflected nothing that he should be wary of. Nothing beyond simple passing curiosity, or in some cases appreciation.

The latter was so typical, so expected, he might have rolled his eyes. But as it was, his attention was soon captured by the sight of the surfer whose swim trunks he'd stolen emerging from the water.

It was proving to become quite the spectacle, but with a faint smile he shook his head and continued up the beach. He'd rather not hang around and be accused of theft. The less direct attention, close attention he received, the better. Most of these people may be tourists, but he was willing to bet that some locals were in attendance.

And he knew better than to see if they might come to the correct conclusions about his heritage based on the stories.

A quick, darting glance down reassured him that not only was his most treasured possession safely where it should be, but now almost completely concealed by caked sand from walking through the stuff. That suited him just fine.

He had to wonder, as he trekked up the beach, why exactly instinct had ushered him to Seolh Bay… it was quite unorthodox. A definite alteration from routine. But, he knew that the currents would not be moving on for at least two months. He had time to figure it out.

For now though, he was quite keen to find a bar and see if bartenders still knew how to make frozen daiquiris… they had been his favorite around one hundred years ago. Which had in fact been the date of his last venture into a place actively populated by humans.

And now that he was back among them, his craving had returned.

Which caused him to wonder which he liked better, frozen daiquiris, or a nice juicy salmon who put up a good chase.

It was a question he puzzled as he made his way further into human domain, but despite the track of his thoughts he remained vigilant about watching the humans. To his eyes, it seemed as if the race had become rather blind and clueless in only a century… but that suited him just fine. Even so, he would be a fool to drop his guard.

Finding a bar overlooking a beach that was quite close to Seolh Bay and the warm currents that were his home, he happily noted that it was filled with plenty of tourists – many dressed as he was. Tourists were the safest breed of humans.

So feeling cheerful about that, he made his way over to one of the many tables open in a corner of the room, away from the view, near the employee exit. Putting his back to the door and his front to the humans he marveled at how much shorter bar stools were at tables like these as compared to those one hundred years ago.

But being rather short himself, it meant he didn't have to climb.

"What can I get for you, dear?" Asked a middle aged woman who looked to be of native decent to the island, and she held a pad of paper while fixing him with a kindly smile.

Smiling back at her, he hoped for the best. "Frozen daiquiri?"

She wrote it down with a nod, and internally he celebrated, they still knew how to make them!

"Anything to eat?" She enquired of him, looking back up from her notepad.

Doubting that they'd give him a whole raw, still living fish, he shook his head. "No, I'm fine, thank you." Which was something of the truth, he had eaten this morning, a tuna that had been part of the group effort of wrangling up some food. And he didn't require much to eat, not in comparison to humans, and his human form maintained that quality.

"Sure thing, dear. I'll have your drink right out to you."

He watched her leave with a faint smile, he'd have to watch out for her despite her normal interest in him. She lived on this island… and she'd be keeping an eye on him every so often because of his status as a customer. He had to be careful.

When his drink arrived he barely remembered to smile and politely thank the woman before he turned to grinning at the simple looking drink. Dipping a finger into the cold slush of it he licked the moisture off with a happy shudder and a delighted trill.

He loved frozen daiquiris!

X

Roy really had no preference as to which bar to frequent tonight. Not seeing any difference in it. Either way he'd manage to find someone to accompany him back to his place for the night. So he turned his steps towards the nearest one that he knew of, only paying half a mind to the island police that were parked out on the beach. According to the chatter he was picking up as he walked by there'd been some sort of incident regarding a nude surfer…

What a pity he'd missed that one.

He continued on though, sand kicking up under his bare feet and hands shoved into the pockets of his khaki shorts. It was shaping up to be a warm evening, even though the sun was still lowering towards the horizon, and he was beginning to consider loosening the last three buttons on his shirt.

They were still buttoned though by the time he let himself into the bar, believing that the temptation of still mostly concealed chest would only work in his favor.

Now he looked around, eyes instantly taking inventory of the potential companions for the evening. He had done a full sweep of the bar, or so he thought, when his eyes caught a flash of gold hidden away in a corner.

Sitting conspicuously alone at a table practically hidden away, was a young man who couldn't have been older than twenty. Golden blond hair that was still clearly drying from a dip in the ocean cascaded around tan shoulders and blocked the full view of an almost aristocratic face. He was shirtless, miraculously so, for there was no reason to hide that toned and tanned body beneath anything.

Search over.

Roy gave himself a once over, brushed a hand back through his hair just to be sure of its appearance, and without further ado strode over to the bar first. He needed a drink after all, one could not appear too hasty.

"What is he having?" Roy asked the bartender, tipping his head towards the blond.

The bartender looked, smiled a bit, and then looked back at Roy. "Frozen daiquiri of course. Just because the current is warm does not mean the feel of ice is unpleasant."

Roy gave him a quizzical look. "On the contrary, I think it would feel rather nice."

The bartender laughed and motioned to the blender filled with ice. "Am I to assume you're wanting two? I've been keeping an eye on him, he's nearly done with the one he has."

Roy nodded absently, glancing towards the blond again. He didn't frequent the men as much as the women, but this one… this one looked like an angel. A damp, sandy angel. And he was not about to pass this up, the chesty women also in the bar weren't quite as alluring when compared with him.

The bartender soon returned with the two frozen daiquiris. "It's all going on your tab, so you know."

Roy blinked, where else would it be going? "Naturally…" and giving the bartender an odd look he turned to make for the table where the sandy angel sat running a slim finger down the condensation and looking delighted.

Just how many daiquiris had this guy had so far?

…Roy didn't care enough to not give him another, and so he walked up purposefully.

But his approach was not about to go coyly unnoticed, and before he knew it that head had jerked up to train shockingly gold eyes on him. He barely smothered his startled reaction. He'd never seen such eyes before, not on anything but a wild cat at the zoo. But this was no wild cat. And those eyes glittered with a molten fire as dangerous as the sun as they pierced into him.

"I did not ask for another drink."

It took Roy a moment to register that the golden-eyed angel had spoken, and when he had he wondered if he was imagining the slight musical chime to the words.

"I thought you might need another… and that I might be able to join you." Roy finally replied, berating himself to get a grip. Just because he'd never seen golden eyes before did not mean he was going to let his game slip.

The golden eyes narrowed in consideration, before one hand waved to the empty seat.

"So what's your name?" Roy asked as he sat down, passing one of the daiquiris over.

"Edward." Came the unhesitating reply. He, like all of his kind, had two names. One for below the sea, and one for above. He had been named after a king of old, one whom his mother had fell in love with despite the barriers. But humans had not been long lived in those days, and the king had died… never knowing he'd fathered a child.

"Roy."

Edward stared at Roy as he slowly slid the new daiquiri closer to him. He knew why this human was here, and while he didn't like it, he couldn't help but feel that this one would be easy to slip away from, and clearly had not a clue of what he really was or there'd be more than just common lustful interest in those dark eyes. "My gratitude for the drink."

That, and it was beneficial to have someone who'd be easy to slip away from at the table to indicate he was not up for being engaged by anyone else. Especially someone who might not be quite as clueless about his heritage.

Or were humans finally evolving into beautiful beings themselves, such that he did not seem entirely out of place? No longer a visual siren to the humans of the world? Sea help the sirens themselves if humans ever learned how to sing any better.

Looking at this human here before him, he couldn't exactly find much wrong aesthetically with the man. He was quite charming, but he was still a human. But at least the human race looked like it had hope in the looks department. When he'd been a pup he'd never been too sure that they had a chance.

"You're welcome." Roy smiled and relaxed back casually, making sure that his shirt slid open in the right way. "You here alone?"

Well! Humans certainly cut to the chase now, didn't they! He hadn't even finished the gifted daiquiri yet. He slid his gaze away from Roy's chest and back to the dark eyes as he raised the daiquiri towards his lips. "Aside from yourself, yes."

Or unless his family and friends decided to come ashore here as well. Unlikely… they never came ashore among lots of humans these days unless absolutely necessary.

"Do you live around here?" Roy asked, sipping on his daiquiri idly.

Edward snorted softly and shook his head. "I'm more what you would term a gypsy. I do not enjoy the thought of being bound to any one place for very long." And he turned his gaze away from his drink and onto the man across from him.

That sat perfectly well with Roy, he was only looking for one night anyway. Despite how temptingly beautiful Edward was.

"And where is it you're from?" Edward asked before taking another sip of the daiquiri, barely stifling the happy trill that wanted to escape him at the flavor and feel of the coldness.

"I have a place here." Roy shrugged, but more than willing to milk it for all the romance factor it was worth. "Down on the beach."

Edward tilted his head to one side, "but you're not from here."

"No." Roy agreed, "but what makes you say that?"

"Mainly, that you are too fair skinned to have lived here long." Edward pointed out. "And you said, 'I have a place here', which implies that you have not been here long at all."

"Right on all counts." Roy sighed but smiled. "But tell me why someone like you travels alone. No family or friends, no girlfriend or boyfriend?"

Edward didn't even blink as he replied quite calmly, "for the same reason you left your friends and family at your other home. You needed to, for a reason they could not understand… but deep down, you know it is what you need… need to do."

Roy could barely help the urge to stare at the blond. He was positively one of the oddest individuals he'd ever met, and was beginning to wonder just how much of an open book he himself was. He'd thought he was fairly good at masking himself.

"You said you live on the island now?" Edward didn't seem to have noticed Roy's off-balanced moment.

"Yes." Roy confirmed, glad to have something less surprising come his way from the blond's end of the table.

"Where?"

Roy was beginning to wonder if this meant victory was imminent. "Not far, just down the beach. A cottage on the far end of Seolh Bay, nearest the national park."

Edward's fingers stiffened around the daiquiri, and he drew in a steady breath before raising it to his lips and finishing off the last of it abruptly. "Seolh Bay?"

Roy nodded, taking note of the sudden disappearance of the drink. He took it as a good sign. "Would you like to see it? Have another drink at my place?"

Edward looked at him sharply now, and then smiled disarmingly. He had to get out of here. Now. "Just one more round here? And then I'd love to see it, I'm sure it's got a wonderful view."

Roy was agreeable to that, and knowing that he had his company for the night secured, he excused himself from the table. "I'll be right back," and he winked, "don't go anywhere, gypsy."

Walking off to the bar counter, he waited for the bartender to notice him. As the man came over he wasted no time. "Two more please, and the bill."

The bartender made sure that the employee exit door had been shut for a good three seconds before he replied with genuine curiosity. "I'd have only one at a time if I were you. Else the other will melt before you get to it, as I assure you if you try to down it in one swallow you'll have a spectacular brain-freeze."

Roy blinked in confusion, "I'm not drinking them both by myself. I didn't strike out."

The bartender glanced over Roy's shoulder. "You sure about that?"

Roy's head snapped around so fast that it was a miracle his neck didn't break, and his eyes widened as he saw the table was vacant. The only thing to show that Edward had once been there was the two empty daiquiri glasses.

"Need something a bit stronger than a daiquiri?" The bartender asked casually.

Roy swore under his breath before scowling at the bartender. "No. I'm sure he's just in the bathroom."

The bartender nodded, "you're probably right. I'll hold off though on the daiquiris until he returns, shall I?" And as he watched Roy return to the table he'd once shared with the blond, he smiled wryly. He wondered how long the man would sit there before he realized that the man he'd thought he was flirting with successfully really wasn't coming back.

"You sure he was one?" The middle-aged woman who'd first attended to Edward asked as she stepped over to where the bartender now polished glasses.

"Nearly positive beyond a doubt." He replied calmly. "Best keep it to yourself though. They have as much a right to enjoy a peaceful vacation as anyone else. It would not do to subject them to a reappearance of what is little more than a past riddled with tragedy. It took centuries for them to be actively forgotten… to destroy that hard won peace in a night would be cruel. And a bartender," and he glanced at her meaningfully, "and his staff, keep the secrets of their customers."

She nodded slowly, knowing he was right. "But a sel –"

"Quiet." He hissed at her.

"Care to explain why you think he was one, despite the fact that he was definitely a looker?"

"I'm straight and even I thought he was attractive." The bartender sounded oddly comfortable with that revelation. "But the currents are warm, he was short for his age, and he ordered frozen daiquiris. There are a million other things if you are trained to look as hard as bartenders are to discern the moods, backgrounds of their guests."

She chuckled softly, "he sure slipped away handily enough."

X

Edward had wasted no time in fleeing the bar as soon as Roy's back had turned, and nor did he waste any time hurrying back down towards Seolh Bay. At this hour it was relatively easy to slip out of sight past a rock outcropping on the beach and splash into the water.

Once he was deep enough that only his head remained just above the water so he could breathe, he slipped off the stolen swim trunks and let them float on top of the sea before transforming back out of human form.

The transformation had sent him below the surf, but he darted up to snatch the swim trunks in his teeth and pull them under as he swam further out into the bay. Back into the warm current's embrace. It was there that he located a thicker grouping of rocks where several fish were trying to settle in to sleep, but at the sight of him they fled.

Which was fine with him.

Bobbing back up to the surface he took another breath before pelting back down, swim trunks still in his possession. It took him only a few minutes to secure the swim trunks in the clasp of the rocks, assuring him of a continued disguise for however many times he'd need to go back onto shore.

For even now the current and his own instinct was trying to send him back further into the bay… back to the beach.

But what for? He couldn't understand it. A confused chirp escaped him. What could possibly be at Seolh Bay that instinct and the ever faithful and loving current urged him to find?

The image of Roy flashing before his eyes caused him to bark in alarm, and in turn resurface for more air before he choked on seawater.

Leaving his head above water, but being sure to keep an eye out for humans coming close enough to see him, he shook his head to rid himself of the image. It was just a coincidence that Roy had recently moved to Seolh Bay! To a cottage he could vaguely make out in the distance from here whenever the waves went into a lull.

He couldn't see any reasonable reason that Roy, a human, would be a good enough reason for going on shore again. Much less a safe reason, especially considering where he knew the man's mind was.

Roy wanted nothing more than sex.

Edward huffed, causing the surface of the water to spray at the disruption, droplets finding a home on his whiskers. He would dare risk being called old-fashioned, because in reality he was. The last time he'd been on shore among humans there had been something humans did called courting. And besides… just wanting him for sex?

It was the curse of their existence all over again but in another form. They were more than just shapeshifters to be called upon for carnal gratification! And he wouldn't be the outlet for that if he could help it.

He certainly would not willingly sleep with Roy, too many risks involved… and no love.

Perhaps that was old-fashioned now too, love over lust.

Giving an irritated bark he dove back under the surface and swam out against the wishes of the warm current into open sea. He needed to find a fish to eat or a dolphin to harass. He'd come back in the morning before dawn and start over.

Because he absolutely refused to believe that Roy was anything but a coincidence. Things just were never that simple when you were a selkie.

X

Roy woke up at dawn the next day feeling grouchy as well as insistent that the replacement he'd found for his original fraternization goal last night go ahead and get herself out of his cottage. Which caused him to be more than a bit snappish with her, and even when she'd gone haughtily, he didn't feel any better.

He wasn't sure what it was about Edward ditching him last night that had him this worked up, and he could only assume it was because he'd never been turned down before.

Never!

Only to be turned down last night after a perfectly lovely day – aside from the tumble through the wall incident – and he'd been ditched by no less than the physical embodiment of the sun.

He could no longer think of Edward as an angel. Would an angel leave so abruptly and thus cause him to have to pay for his tab as well by pure association? He still didn't agree with the bartender on that one, and felt sure that the man had been laughing at him for some reason that he had a suspicion had nothing to do with his being ditched.

If this was what getting turned down by sudden up-and-vanishing acts felt like, then Roy decided he hated it.

Scowling he stomped to the shower, and tried to put thoughts of Edward, golden hair, and eyes like the sun out of his mind.

He was feeling moderately better when he finished with his shower and had dressed not for the water, but for a morning jog. It was still dimly lit out, dawn not quite past, and he felt in need of a run before anything else, if only to work off the rest of his mood.

So grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator he set out into the gathering light.

The feel of the harder wet sand under his trainers and the coming runners high was doing much to lift his spirits, and he only went faster. The morning was already warm, but a breeze blew in from the bay as he rounded about it steadily. Several times he nearly trampled seagulls, and was forced to duck as they dive-bombed him in retaliation, but otherwise the way was clear, and he went unbothered.

He actually had a smile on his face as he finally turned up from the beach and headed into town at that same jogging pace. He knew he really should get around to shopping for food, as he was down to his last sandwich and two beers at home.

The general store wasn't big, it didn't need to be in a town the size of this one where there were more farmers market type things than anything, but he didn't have the cash on him needed for those. He'd only brought his credit and ATM card when he came here, and hadn't yet withdrawn funds.

Aisle by aisle he pushed the cart whose right front wheel shook ominously with every inch gained. And the horrendous squealing noise it made only grew worse with every package of food he added to the cart. But he was not about to cut his shopping trip short just because the cart was as ancient as the store itself.

Bread, vegetables, fruits, beer, meats, eggs, more beer, spices, seafood, and toilet paper all came together in his cart along with every cleaning supply item he had run out of when he'd cleaned through the cottage before he moved all his things in.

"Somebody just moved in." The cashier noted with a laugh as he began to ring up and bag the items for purchase.

Roy smiled faintly. "I bought a summer home here, and decided that I can no longer live off beer and questionable sandwiches from the convenience store."

The cashier, nametag reading 'Mark', chuckled. "You've no idea how questionable, but still they're good in a pinch."

"I get the feeling I don't want to ask." Roy remarked dryly, watching as yet one more brown paper bag was filled with his groceries.

Mark shook his head with a bit of a grimace. "No, definitely not." And he too glanced at the number of bags, about to total four he expected, by the time he was done. "You going to be okay to carry all this back? You don't live far I hope."

Roy shrugged, "it's no problem. I've carried worse. Besides, what's a little challenge before lunch?"

"A challenge all the same."

Roy smirked and had to accept the truth in that. When his bill was finally totaled he paid and allowed Mark to help him get his arms around all the bags, precarious as it was.

Mark seemed to be enjoying the sight at the very least. "Next time you need to do a major shopping spree come back around one o'clock. I change shifts with my sister and could help you out, I wouldn't even charge you but maybe…" he grinned and tilted his head in consideration, "a beer."

Roy smiled back and appeared to consider it before giving up theatrics, these bags were already feeling heavy. No time to waste with flirtations, and he nodded. "I'll remember." And he was about halfway to the door before he looked over his shoulder. "Name's Roy."

"Mark." Was the cheery reply, and Roy was waved out the door.

As Roy staggered back to his cottage with his groceries he was smiling. Today was definitely looking up. From the very beginning it had been ten times better than yesterday. No falling through walls, and it certainly wouldn't end with someone named Edward ditching him at a bar to make him look like a fool.

By the time Roy caught sight of his cottage he couldn't have been more relieved. The groceries only got heavier every step, and now he had to walk through deep sand. He was not about to take a rest now.

He was at about the halfway point when he overheard a man ask his wife if she knew where his flip-flops had been put, and that he couldn't find them. Not an attention-worthy event, until about twenty yards later he overheard a man who was by himself exclaiming that his shirt had gone missing.

Roy came to the conclusion that the seagulls were learning new tricks, and he'd best be on the lookout.

He reached the cottage without hearing of further incidents, and experiencing no clothing losses himself. And he set the bags of groceries down with a groan of relief, taking a breather before he began to sort the bags out and put things away.

A few hours later Roy had made himself a real breakfast, put more beer to chill in the refrigerator, and exited the house in search of the sea to relax him after his trek this morning.

Well, the sea translated into a beach chair he drug out to "his" area of the sand around his home that the tourists still seemed to acknowledge as turf they were not allowed to cross over, and popped the cap off of one of the original beers that was already nice and chilled.

Flopping into the chair with a small groan, Roy let himself relax back and take a sip of his beer as he watched the waves begin to come in. He was hoping to see some surfers be wiped out at the very least.

He had been watching for not more than a third of his beer when he nearly choked on the brew. There, walking along the damper spit of sand between bay and beach, was Edward.

He had a shirt on this time, and was dry, but it was him.

And he seemed… frustrated.

But Roy didn't care about that, all he cared about was that suddenly his irritation was back, and rapidly downing the last of his beer in a single breath he shot out of his chair and took off across the sand to intercept the little terror.

Oh yes, Roy could see now exactly how tall, or lack thereof, Edward was.

Forgetting about Edward, forgotten.

He waited until he was within ten feet of the blond who was moving at a fairly good clip across the sand before calling out to him snappishly. "Edward!"

Edward startled and whirled, golden eyes narrowing and then widening as they landed on Roy. "Him…" he murmured under his breath before edging a bit closer towards the ocean. Even if there were many people around, no one would see if he transformed after diving under the water. They'd suspect he just swam off, and in a fashion, that's exactly what he'd do.

"Where the hell did you run off to last night?" Roy berated him as he came up to the blond, not caring about making a scene in front of the children nearby, it was how incensed he was.

Edward raised his chin, his shoulders set defiantly as he looked up at the man who easily towered over him. But he was used to it, most humans were taller than he was. There was only so much height as a human he could gain when he had a seal body to contend with too. "I had an emergency come up," he lied smoothly. "I didn't have time to explain, and I certainly won't apologize to you. I'm sure you didn't look very long for me."

Roy might have felt kicked had his irritation about the event not been so great. Truth was, he hadn't looked for Edward at all. "I did wait… almost an hour." He admitted, and it was the truth. Not that he was proud of seeming so, desperate.

"Waiting means something." Edward remarked calmly. "Something… but not a lot. Passivity is hardly an admirable quality when pursuing someone for what your intentions were last night."

"I'd just met you, I'm not about to look desperate!" Roy hissed at him.

Edward arched an eyebrow, "so what do you call this, then?" He asked, waving a hand between them. "Chasing down a beach after me and subjecting me to the third degree?"

"I call it –" Roy shook his head to forestall those thoughts, "no. You know what? This is ridiculous! I shouldn't care, at all. So I don't. You're the most infuriating man I've ever been cursed to meet."

Edward snorted, not caring to point out that he wasn't in fact, a man. At least not in the human terms that Roy meant. "And yet, there you still stand." He wasn't sure why he was taunting Roy, but he was. It was bringing him some strange satisfaction to rile the human up.

Roy glared at him and turned away. "Not anymore. Besides, now that I get a good look at you in the daylight you're hardly as enchanting. Somehow last night you seemed… taller."

Roy got only a few feet before he felt something mildly hard connect with the back of his head, and he gave a short-lived cry of surprise as he whirled about.

There on the sand lay one of Edward's flip-flops.

"I can't help my height!" Edward snapped as he stalked forward towards Roy with every intention to retrieve the flip-flop he'd stolen from some poor sod who'd left his wife of all people to guard his clothing against selkies in search of camouflage. It was almost sad how easily the flirting had worked to distract her.

"Tetchy one, aren't you." Roy chided as he watched Edward blindly fit the flip-flop back on. "I know you're about the size of a child, but please don't act like one."

Edward glared at him furiously. "You're one to talk. Just stay away from me from now on since I am so visually displeasing. I daresay we'll both appreciate it."

Roy glared right back as the blond turned and stalked away from him, "good riddance." He didn't dare think about the fact that he'd been the one to ultimately start whatever strange fight they'd just had, choosing to blame it on hot-headed blonds.

"You know," called an elderly woman who was sitting on a large beach towel underneath a striped umbrella with her husband, "you'll never win him back that way!"

Roy tried not to glare at her, "he was never mine." He growled under his breath, and looked back towards where Edward had been stalking off to, only to blink in confusion.

The blond was gone. But to where? There wasn't exactly a crowd of people anywhere on the beach that could hide that blond hair, no matter how short the man sporting it was.

Telling himself that he didn't care, he turned to stalk back to his cottage.

From a goodly distance off the coast, Edward watched Roy go back to a homely-sized cottage and flop into a chair. Huffing his displeasure at having been discouraged back to the water so easily by one man he ducked back under the surface before he was spotted.

And against the clear wishes of both the warm current pushing him back towards the bay, and the pull of his own instinct in the same direction, he swam towards where he knew he'd find his family and friends.

Perhaps once he rejoined them all of this would go away, because there was clearly nothing there at Seolh Bay for him.

It didn't take him long, and with barely an effort he slipped out of the water and onto one of the many rocks his kindred were sunbathing on. In both seal shape and human shape. But no matter which shape, he was greeted happily, and he returned the greetings with just as much relieved cheer.

Using his flippers to propel him forward, Edward slipped across the rocks to join his mother where she was cleaning her whiskers in between shooting him relieved looks.

"If you feel you're lacking adventure, Aur, we can always go find a shark. Or an orca." She chirped to him in their own melodious language.

Edward, known as Aur by his kindred, turned reproachful golden eyes on her. "You are nearly eight centuries old, mother. You shouldn't even be thinking of such dangers as fun at your age."

"Why did you go among the humans?"

Aur let out a whistle of breath that as a human, would have been classified as a sigh. "The current beckoned me, and instinct told me it was okay. That I should go. But I found nothing waiting for me there but an infuriating coincidence of a human."

Aur's mother seemed to hold a frown in her eyes as she looked at her pup. "And you departed before knowing why exactly you were called upon to be there?"

"It wasn't a summoning. It didn't, doesn't, have the same sway over my will. Even if it had been something like that, we all would have felt it. I was not so far ahead… and one of the others would have gone. One who enjoys being the fulfillment of their selfish wishes."

"This human has infuriated you more than once." It was not a question.

"Yes. He has carnal desires, but did not summon me. He does not appear to know that I am not the sum of my appearance."

"He has been the one constant you've found since walking among the humans?"

"Yes."

"You do not share his… carnal desires?" She asked, a soft barking laugh being poorly stifled.

Aur gave a horrified sounding yip which only served to make his mother more amused at his expense, and his whiskers twitched in annoyance of it. "Mother! He is handsome, but not at all for me. He is a human, and I am afraid of… I do not share the bravery you showed with father. And he does not like me, we fought just before I came here. But even were I brave, and we had not fought, he's… infuriating!"

"Stay here a while and enjoy the sun, but do not feel too surprised if sooner than you think, you find yourself back in the Bay. Instinct is not so easily ignored, Aur. You are old enough to know that not everything about us has to be about beauty and sex. You can only see what transpires."

"With that human it is." Aur replied and lowered his head onto his drying flippers.

Her whiskers twitched in amusement before she lowered her head to butt against his affectionately. "Then hope you are right, and he is just coincidence. Look harder. You are smart, I know that you'll understand when the time shows itself."

"Am I meant to understand why I feel compelled to the Bay, and the current guides me there?"

"If you were, you'd not be here now." She pointed out and stretched languidly in the sunlight. "But tears are not the only powers on this planet that can compel our souls. Stronger forces always exist… even if they do not work against our will."

"He could not compel me even if he shed tears." Aur mumbled sleepily, his golden eyes drifting closed. "I'd happily let one of the more promiscuous of the pod go to him in my stead."

Aur's mother watched him fondly, whiskers twitching in a seal-like smile as her son began to drift off to sleep. So… a human… like mother like son, she supposed.

X

Roy dared not go back to that bar of the night before as the sun began to sink below the horizon. Instead he settled for what barely qualified as a tiki bar and ordered himself a vodka martini, extra dirty, with extra olives. From a vendor pitching shop on the tourist populated sand he bought a questionable hamburger and made his way along the beach in search of a place to sit.

He found it in the shape of a small sand dune, and settled in with his martini and hamburger to stare out at the sea as it was painted with the sunset. Last minute boaters and jet skiers were getting in their last hours before dusk and a late dinner. Families soaking up the remaining time by gradually ushering the children in from the water.

It was still a bit early to go find someone to keep him company for the night, so he may as well watch the sunset.

And so he did, until both martini and hamburger were gone, and the sky was growing swiftly darker. Only then did he get up, brush the sand off of him and head in towards the single tourist venues.

To do so meant he had to pass by that bar from the night before, but he merely shot it a grudging glance and continued on. He wasn't about to buy more drinks there from that bartender with a sadistic sense of humor.

He was just about to round the corner when a flash of gold at the edge of his peripheral vision caused him to whirl around.

But the door to the bar swung shut, closing his view off from whoever had just entered. He paused, mind conflicting against itself as his eyes narrowed. A part of him, the part that wanted easy ways out of everything suggested in a convincing voice that it could have been any blond… but that other part of him couldn't help but wonder…

Even if it was Edward, he should walk away. Now. They'd not parted nicely earlier, and he was not looking to be further humiliated in this bar by the blond.

So why the hell was it that he suddenly found himself standing in front of that door?

He cursed under his breath, and yanked the door open to step inside. He ignored all others as his eyes instantly gravitated to the far wall, the corner table, and when he saw who sat there he knew he should have turned and left. Immediately. But he didn't.

Ignoring everyone else in the room he strode over to the table without pause, and further ignored the startled and then suspicious look he was given by a pair of hauntingly gold eyes as he sat down without invitation.

"You owe me a drink, I've decided."

Edward sat back on his stool, shoulders stiffening. "Is that right?"

Roy nodded abruptly, "I was forced to pay your own tab last night. So one drink on you now."

"And this is the charming way you seek to further indulge yourself in my company?" Edward asked him flatly, everything inside him resisting and balking against the idea that Roy showing up again meant anything.

And blocking out what his mother had said at that.

Roy smirked and relaxed back. "I see no reason to apologize for anything I might have said, considering you ran off on me without bothering to even say 'bye'. No matter what the emergency, it's only polite."

Edward hummed, and took his gaze from Roy to smile at the middle-aged woman who brought him his drink and a small plate of sushi – no rice involved however. "Thank you."

"Is that all?" She asked kindly, trying not to shoot a suspicious look towards the dark-haired man who was back again. She was wondering how easily the selkie would be able to get away this time.

Edward glanced at Roy then, a smile playing on his lips. "Whatever he'd like, on my tab of course."

Roy's shock went unmasked, and he slowly gave his order without taking his eyes off Edward. And when the woman had gone he gave the blond a suspicious look. "So easily?"

"Perhaps we should start over." Edward sighed, and then took up his frozen daiquiri with a delighted smile and sipped at it with a happy shiver.

Roy stared transfixed at the odd sight, he'd never seen someone enjoy a drink so much. Especially something like a frozen daiquiri. "Start over." He deadpanned, staring still.

Edward nodded as he set the drink back down and then ran a finger through the condensation with fascination. "I do not enjoy being solicited for meaningless onetime sex. It does not make me feel valued in the least. So take your drink, and leave. As far as I'm concerned, we're now square, and I do not wish to associate with such a shallow man further."

Roy actually felt his jaw slacken at the boldness of that statement. "Was that emergency excuse complete fabrication then?" He asked with the beginnings of anger. "You just ran out on me for –"

"Maybe you'll learn something from it." Edward cut him off. "Go solicit someone else."

Roy didn't move. His mind once again waging war with everything that he'd nurtured himself to be. To whit, a one-night stand type of guy. One who was now confronted with someone who left him so perplexed, annoyed, and intrigued, and it had never happened before in his life.

In fact neither of them spoke again until Roy's drink arrived, only staring hard into each other's eyes. Finally after taking a sip of it, Roy found his tongue again. "Why do you enjoy those frivolous frozen daiquiris so much?"

A question which shocked them both.

Edward blinked, and absently picked up a piece of the raw tuna to munch on as he considered the human through narrowed eyes. "I spend so much time in warm climates, that it's nice to feel the cold for a time."

It was that answer, not a brushing off, that caused Roy to more firmly plant himself on his stool. "You said start over, right?"

Edward nodded slowly, suspiciously. "…yes."

Roy nodded as well, before sticking his hand out over the table. "Roy Mustang."

Edward frowned at the hand, not taking it, and his eyes darted back up to Roy's. "What are you doing?"

"It's only polite, surely you must have learned this greeting somewhere in your gypsy travels." Roy chided with a small teasing smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

"I'm not stupid." Edward growled, and reached out to clasp Roy's hand. "But don't think you'll win me into your bed this way either."

Roy smirked, "you're supposed to respond with your name."

Edward glowered at him, jerking his hand away and took a sip of his daiquiri before responding. "Edward." And he tilted his head as he watched the human cautiously. It still didn't seem as if Roy had any interest in him that would suggest the man knew what he was. "And I will not fall for this."

Roy shook his head. "No. I know you won't." And he held up a hand to stop whatever retort was about to leave that suddenly open mouth. "You think if I'm half what you seem to think I am, that I'd care about it so much as to trick you into it? No. Not when I'm faced with you. I could easily go get plenty of others and never think about you again. Only every time I turn around you're there…" he shook his head in frustration and looked hard into golden eyes. "I wouldn't be wasting my time except for the fact I can't seem to escape you, or get you out of my head."

"As if there's any way to prove that." Edward pointed out, but did not try and cut the man down.

"No." Roy admitted, giving him an almost apologetic look. "No, there's not. Which is why this really fucking sucks."

Edward found himself laughing before he could help it, "for us both. You're handsome, Roy." He said honestly. "But one day we'll both be gone from here, and we'll be just fine without each other. And I will never be the type to willingly jump into bed for just a night."

Roy tipped his glass towards Edward before taking a drink, and then standing up from his stool. "It was nice to meet you, Edward."

Edward watched Roy make his way back over to the bar, and chuckled under his breath to try and convince himself he wasn't disappointed Roy had left – for that was unsettling a thought to be sure –, before turning back to his frozen daiquiri and sushi. He found however that he could only pick at it, so distracted he was by his thoughts.

He wanted so badly to believe this was a coincidence, that Roy was a coincidence. But was it really? Nothing else had been a constant since he'd come here. Just him…

Shaking his head Edward sighed, he still had time. Time enough for other things to happen, and by the sound of Roy's goodbye, he wouldn't be seeing the human again. Which meant coincidences over, and now the true reason could appear.

Taking a rather lengthy sip of his frozen daiquiri he tried to feel pleased about the occurrence.

After all, there was no way he could let Roy get close to him… even dare risk himself in the hope that Roy might develop more than just lust for him. Humans were dangerous, the past was evidence of that. If Roy were to ever learn his true heritage… his heart trembled at the thought.

To lose his freedom was akin to death in his eyes.

And why would he hope that Roy would develop more than lust for him anyway?

It couldn't be Roy that he had been guided here for!

Edward slammed the drink back to the table, not minding that it sloshed over the edges. He only grabbed the rest of his sushi to eat quickly before hopping off his stool and shoving his way out the employee exit.

The bartender had watched covertly as the selkie seemed to become suddenly angry and storm out. He'd been keeping half an ear on the creature anyway, just in case. He wasn't sure what had made him so angry, but for once, it didn't seem to be the dark-haired man named Roy.

In fact, it seemed that they'd parted peacefully this time.

Glancing over to where Roy was sipping his drink alone at the bar counter he noticed with relief that the man didn't seem to have taken notice of the selkie's departure. Good. He only hoped that the selkie was okay.

When Roy noticed that Edward was gone, he was unsurprised. He only smiled faintly, trying not to mind the twinge of disappointment that he had pretty much said goodbye to the blond. He knew Edward would expect to be left alone now.

It was for the best, really. Getting attached to someone here, someone he knew to be a self-proclaimed gypsy, would be a bad idea. But it still didn't stop him from feeling inexplicably disappointed and ordering another drink.

It wasn't like he'd want anything more than one night anyway.

Roy left the bar alone that night.

X

Four days passed, and Roy saw neither hide nor hair of Edward.

That perhaps could have been because he was avoiding the area near that bar, and even the beach of Seolh Bay. He'd instead spent the time either inside the cottage finishing decorating it, or exploring the other parts of the island including a day long hike through the national park.

And every day when he went to bed not having seen Edward, he told himself it was a good thing. That soon he'd forget completely about the blond. But the thing was, the harder you tried to forget about someone, the more they began to haunt your thoughts. And that was no less true for Roy.

By the seventh day, Roy could no longer take it.

Even if he didn't speak to Edward, he at least had to see him. And so he spent the entire day combing the beach and the area nearby the bar for the head of gold hair. But by dusk he'd turned up nothing at all.

So with no other option left, and the desire to see Edward as strong as ever, Roy began to trek back towards that bar he'd seen the blond in twice before. It seemed reasonable that Edward would go there again.

Meanwhile already inside the bar…

Edward was sitting at his customary table for the evening, having pleasantly discovered that it was being saved for him with a 'Reserved' sign, which he found highly odd since he never paid for anything. But he could catch no ill will from either bartender or waitress who treated him pleasantly each time.

So he settled in to wait for his frozen daiquiri to appear while looking around at the clientele of the evening. A large group of them appeared to be in the midst of celebrating a fellow's birthday, and he watched them until his drink arrived.

With a contented trill he ran his fingers through the condensation, shivering pleasantly. Once he'd stroked away the moisture he picked the drink up and began to slowly indulge in it.

Oh to have a nice live salmon and this… it would be heaven.

"He seems happier tonight." The waitress remarked to the bartender with a smile as she passed by him.

It was true, though the bartender was beginning to notice where she did not that the selkie only cheered up once he got his hands on a daiquiri. Ever since that night the selkie had left in anger, he'd come back each consecutive night looking distracted and unhappy.

And he had to wonder…

That man Roy hadn't been by since then either. It seemed strange and almost unlikely, but he couldn't help but wonder if the selkie was waiting for the dark-haired man to show up again.

But for right now the selkie had cheered up, the daiquiri a never failing elixir to give a selkie happiness.

Said selkie was about halfway done with the frozen daiquiri, and pulling it away he glanced about the room again. The party was still underway, a bunch of locals unless his eyes failed him. That was more than enough incentive for him to keep a close eye on them. Drunk locals could prove hazardous if their inhibitions slipped enough.

Had he known just how potentially hazardous, he would have left then and there. And really, he should have known.

He had finished his first daiquiri, and was onto his second when one of the girls of the party wandered over to him, followed loudly by one guy and then a second.

The first guy drawling, "last time I saw him he was with a man, give it up."

Edward's eyes narrowed, and he set his drink down carefully. If he couldn't easily get rid of this bunch and send them on their way, he'd get the hell out of here. This wasn't the first time he'd been approached by drunks in a bar.

"You should come over with us, join the party!" The girl said as she flopped against Edward's table. "You look so lonely over here by yourself."

"She means she wants to jump you." The second guy smirked at Edward. "You're gay though, right?"

Edward drew himself up to his full height, which was not much even sitting on the high stool, but it was something. "I do not wish to join your party, nor answer questions any of you have no business asking me."

"Don't be such a stiff!" The girl berated him, and snatched his hand in her two to make to pull him off the stool. "You're too pretty to be so snobbish."

"You're just not his type." One of the guys laughed, Edward had lost track of which one it was.

He was too busy slapping the girl's hand away. "I said no." He growled, golden eyes flashing in rising anger. "You all are drunk."

"Not drunk enough yet." The same guy replied laughingly.

"Come on already, you can sneak off in a minute but she won't let you out of her clutches until she gets her way." The other guy laughed and snatched Edward by the wrist to give him a firm tug.

Edward tried to smother the flash of unease he felt at those words… gets her way. No! "Don't touch me!" He snapped, and tried to jerk his arm back.

The bartender's head snapped around despite the fact he should have been attending to a customer, and his eyes widened as he saw what was going on.

It was that moment that Roy walked into the bar, he didn't even have time to look around before the waitress suddenly grabbed him by the arm and began shoving him further inside. "Hey! What's the –!"

"Get over there and help him!" The bartender cut across, pointing hurriedly towards the far corner table. "Hurry!"

Roy looked, his eyes landing on a group of people. Two men and a woman, all seemingly rather intoxicated. But it was not this state of inebriation that suddenly enraged him, cornered in by them was a harassed looking Edward.

He didn't even have time to contemplate his sudden anger before he yanked his arm free of the waitress's nervous clutches and swept over to the group.

Edward carefully glanced to his side, if he moved fast he'd be able to slip out the exit before their drunken limbs could move after him.

"But you're so pretty." The girl purred, eyeing him closely. "You look like one of those paintings of sirens in the old mythology books, hell, even a selkie."

Edward felt his blood turn to ice and the color drain from his face.

"Look! He even has a leather strip on his ankle!" One of the guys laughed as he saw Edward move to step down, clearly wanting to blow them off and get away. "Shame they're not real, you'd look the part! But come on already…"

"Pretty!" The girl exclaimed with a rather drunken stumble and seized Edward's leg.

"No!" Edward screamed, reflexively kicking her in the head. He connected, sending her flying back, but the damage was already done.

In her hand was clutched the torn strip of leather… his sealskin.

"No!" He cried again and flew off his stool towards her, only to be shoved back into it by one of her companions.

"Stop with the dramatics, you're no selkie even if you are pretty for a guy! They're not real." That man smirked at him as if explaining something to a rather dumb child.

Edward's eyes sparked with fury mixed with fear, and swung at him. He wasn't drunk in the least, and as this man was, he connected easily.

But he blinked in shock as the guy he'd hit flew hard into the other. He hadn't hit him that hard!

Roy hadn't even taken pause to think about doing this nicely, just grabbed the nearest man by the back of his shirt collar and bodily shoved him into the other man only about a second after he saw Edward handily punch him. "As you said, they're just myths." He snarled at them as they tumbled to a heap on the floor, and grabbed Edward's hand in his own. "And if you bother him again I'll –"

Edward didn't hear exactly what Roy's threat was, he was too busy trying to steady his panicked breath as he clutched to the man's hand like it was a lifeline. And in a way, right now it was. He knew he shouldn't lose focus, he should get out of here right now, but he didn't budge. He felt frozen in place until…

His skin!

Suddenly he bolted from his stool to fly at the girl who'd just managed to stand back up, his sealskin clutched in her hand.

"Easy!" Roy caught him around the middle with his free arm, and quickly released Edward's hand even as he pulled the blond to him firmly. Hand now free, it flashed out to grab the girl's wrist and twist it sharply.

She cried out in pain, even if he hadn't broken it, the leather strip falling to the floor.

Edward gave a panicked cry that startled Roy into releasing him. He'd never heard a noise like that in his life! It hadn't even sounded human!

"You stay away from him too!" Roy growled at her as he reached down to grab Edward by the arm and haul him up from where he'd been clutching onto the strange bit of leather desperately. "Edward, we're leaving."

Edward didn't even resist as Roy pulled him out through the employee exit and out into the silent night. Nor did he resist as he was led quite a ways away from the bar, knowing that Roy was only trying to put distance between them and it.

Roy sighed as he finally stopped among the palm tree group nearest Seolh Bay, and turned to Edward who he released at last. "Are you okay?"

Edward nodded numbly, silent tears rolling down his face. He wasn't one to cry easily, but it wasn't often he nearly lost everything. It had been so close… too close! If she'd… "Thank you." He whispered.

Roy looked down to the strip of odd looking leather that Edward still clutched onto. "Now that I think about it…" he looked back up into golden eyes that were still over-bright with fear. And he smiled, shaking his head. "Be more careful, Edward."

Edward let out a shaking breath and wiped a rough hand across his face to get rid of the tears that had stopped at last. "I thought we weren't going to see each other anymore?"

"I could escort you back there if you like." Roy offered smugly.

Edward glared and shuddered as he stooped to press his sealskin back around his ankle, where it had torn soon becoming fused once more.

Roy smiled faintly as he watched, wondering if Edward knew just how much he was revealing right now. And somehow oddly calm about what he was beginning to believe for the truth, even though it sounded preposterous in his mind. And yet… somehow it wasn't bothering him as he once thought it might have. "Just be careful."

Edward's head jerked up as Roy turned and began walking away, and he stood up sharply. "Why'd you save me?"

Roy stopped, looking back. "Well, you're a selkie, aren't you?" He nodded to where the sealskin was now back around Edward's ankle. "You're beautiful, and you went into absolute panic about that being taken from you."

Edward's eyes widened before he suddenly closed the distance between them, slapping Roy across the face.

"Edward!" Roy cried out in indignation as a hand shot up to clutch at the abused skin. "What the hell?"

"Why would you call me that?" Edward demanded.

Roy glared, and then rolled his eyes with a sigh. "Well beyond my initial reasons, you called yourself a gypsy, you seem to be acquiring a wardrobe of about five different men, and that sound you made earlier tonight, it wasn't at all human. I'm guessing seal."

Edward slapped Roy again without ado.

"Edward!" Roy snapped at him, swearing as he touched his cheek with a flinch.

"If you believe me to be a selkie," Edward asked slowly, "why are you not trying to capture me?"

Roy gave him a bit of a smile and motioned with his free hand towards the ocean not far from them at all. "Go on. I won't stop you. I should be slapping you, for thinking I would be capable of enslaving you. Taking you against your will."

Edward eyed him uncertainly for a moment before slowly stepping forward, his heart pounding. Not even entirely sure why he was about to admit to anything. But he couldn't stop it… and found he didn't want to. "I was born two hundred and thirty-six years ago in the north Atlantic."

Roy blinked, before bursting out into quiet laughter. "Oddly, I think that's the least surprising thing about you I've learned in less than an hour."

Edward's head tilted to one side quizzically. "You are… not going to harm me?"

Roy suddenly looked at Edward in all seriousness, laughter forgotten. "I just saved you, and not for myself. It seems counter-productive to harm you. Now either go on back to the ocean, I won't stop you… or walk with me, and we can talk."

Edward worried his lower lip between his teeth before slowly backing away from Roy, and then running down to the water to splash into the comfort of the surf. But he did not dive in further, even though he wanted to.

…because everything else inside him, and even the current, was telling him to stay.

Slowly he looked over his shoulder to see Roy there where he'd left the man, standing and watching him. He looked… sad… but not for the reason that he would have thought before Roy had saved him. Looking away he thought for a moment, before turning and walking back up the beach to him.

"Talk?"

Roy nodded with a genuine smile. "Come on then, you can even walk in the water if it makes you feel better."

And so it was that they ended up walking slowly side-by-side down the beach, Edward splashing his way through the surf as it bubbled up to meet him.

"I get now why you wanted to keep me at a distance." Roy said as he walked along slowly, keeping his hands in his pockets – something Edward had insisted on.

Edward smiled faintly, watching the water surge up around his ankles. "We're not stupid. The past makes us cautious as a race. We rarely go among humans though these days. The day we met was actually my first day among humans for over one hundred years."

"How much of the myths about selkies are true? Just for the sake of knowing." Roy disclaimed.

Edward sighed, and shrugged. "Not even selkies know everything you humans think up about us."

"Seven tears?"

"To call a selkie, most commonly as a lover." Edward answered without pause, "although some selkies will seek out humans even if they've shed no tears."

Roy hesitated a moment before asking, "have you ever been called this way?"

Edward nodded minutely. "It acts like a thrall, we have to answer the call. I travel commonly with a group of other selkies though, because in the event there's more than one in summoning range, a more promiscuous selkie will answer the call. I am not promiscuous."

Roy had to laugh at the disdain in Edward's voice. "You turned down sex with me, I believe it."

"Maybe now you understand why? I do not like feeling used for release. Every time I've ever had sex… it's never been about me as well."

Roy looked over at him a bit guiltily. "Yeah… I suppose I owe you an apology for that. For offending you."

"Just a small one." Edward remarked idly, but flashed Roy a flash of a teasing smile. "I guess in a way though it's more flattering to be solicited by someone who didn't know at the time what I was."

Roy ducked his head with a soft chuckle. "Doesn't matter to me… you're still just as pretty as I thought you were when I first saw you. Covered in sand and..." he laughed more, falling silent with an embarrassed cough.

Edward tilted his head curiously as he watched Roy, "and what?"

Roy's eyes darted to Edward before staring fixedly at the sand they walked on. "You looked like an angel. All golden."

Edward could feel a bit of color rise to his cheeks, and he shook his head in amused exasperation. "This is so backwards. I shouldn't still be here, I should be swimming away from this place and you as fast as I can. It shouldn't be so much easier to talk to you now that you know what I am."

"Why are you still here?" Roy asked, glad as he was that Edward hadn't fled him. He couldn't have put words to the relief and happiness he'd felt when the blond had walked back up to him after initially fleeing to the surf.

He had thought in that moment that he'd never see Edward again.

Edward sighed, stopping where he was and turning to face Roy fully. "I wish I knew… I don't know what it is that I'm supposed to find here, in you. I thought, hoped, you were just a coincidence. That it was just coincidence we kept meeting. Everything in my past tells me not to trust you… but everything else…" he shook his head in exasperation, "why is it you?"

Roy tilted his head with a frown as he studied the blond. "Wait, everything else? Explain why you feel you have to find anything in me. Why are you supposed to find anyone?"

"The current keeps pushing me into the bay, wanting me to be here." Edward explained, though it was difficult to explain things he just knew because it was the way life was for him. "And my instinct was telling me that it was okay, that I'd be okay." He laughed hollowly at how that had turned out. If not for Roy, he might be a slave right now. "You're the only consistent thing in my time here, the only human who has by intention or not, found me."

Roy looked over Edward's head towards the ocean as he mulled over that. "So you believe it's me, something about me that something inside you is telling you to find?"

Edward nodded mutely.

"Well," Roy paused a moment as he considered, and then a thoughtful smile began to shadow his lips. "I think I have an idea of how we can test that, if you're willing. It'll just need to wait until morning. I think we've both had a trying night already, no use burdening us with an experiment too."

"I am willing." Edward agreed without much thought to the pros and cons of agreeing with a thus far undisclosed idea. After what Roy had just done for him, he was agreeable to a small experiment. He wouldn't say that he entirely trusted the man, it was far too premature for something like that… but right now he trusted Roy more than anyone else on the shore.

Roy nodded and began walking once more, drawing ever closer to his cottage. The resumed splashing of water told him that Edward was not far behind. "If it is me that you're drawn to… are selkies in a case like this drawn to anything but tears?"

Edward raised a hand to rub the back of his neck with a sigh. "It's not that kind of pull. I can resist it, it may be uncomfortable and have the potential to drive me insane if I resist too long, but I can resist. With tears, there is little choice. The selkie who answers the summons is completely bound until, as is most common, the coupling is complete."

"And I'm guessing you are as clueless as I am as to what it could be?"

"As I've wondered, why is it you?" Edward shook his head. "I just don't know. You say you don't want to enslave me –"

Roy didn't even care to wait to see where that led to as he abruptly turned to catch Edward's arm, fixing with stern eyes. "Don't ever think that, don't even think it! What joy would your presence bring me if it was against what you wanted?" He demanded angrily. "I am no monster, Edward!"

Edward's eyes were wide as they stared back at the incensed human, shocked too much by the passion in Roy's words to even think about shaking off the man's hand. Finally he found his tongue again, though it was a slow start. "What I want…?"

It was said as if the concept was foreign to him in such a scenario.

Roy's eyes narrowed before his expression began to soften, and he released Edward's arm. "Call me old-fashioned, but I do not see the enjoyment of only taking and giving nothing in return to my partner. You may be a selkie, but that doesn't mean you should be treated as a possession."

Edward ducked his head away from the still-intense gaze that Roy had resting on him, brows furrowed as he tried not to feel too pleased by Roy's words. They had no relevance to him, after all. He didn't want to be such a partner to a human. "I think I like the things you say to me more when you're being honest instead of trying to lure me to your bed for a night."

Roy gave him a lopsided smile. "I think I like you more when you're being honest with me too. Before I thought you were just some sandy angel who I couldn't get out of my head." And the smile twisted in a wry fashion as he shook his head and looked towards his cottage silhouetted in the darkness. "This isn't going to help matters any."

Edward raised his eyes back to Roy's face, head tilted just a fraction as he contemplated the man with almost detached serenity. "Does it not help that I'll be back tomorrow morning?"

Roy met those golden eyes again and couldn't help but genuinely smile. "I'm afraid it's not quite that simple, sandy little angel." And he ignored the indignant light that filled the golden eyes at the 'little' reference, to finish, "I tried to forget about you. And now that I know you better for who you really are… I'm not sure I'll ever be able to. And that, more than anything –" he shook his head suddenly to put a halt to those thoughts, "– I came to that bar tonight looking for you because I couldn't bear not just seeing you again."

Edward felt his face go blank, "don't say that."

"Edward –"

"You were avoiding me?" Edward cut in without care, "I would have seen you all those other days as well had you not?"

Roy knew there was no way to be sure, but… "yes."

Edward's breath exhaled shakily and he quickly turned to resume walking through the surf as his head shook side-to-side. "You must forget about me after tomorrow, Roy. You must. I do not wish to stay forever just to appease your eyes. And I shall not be bound to forever returning before I can get far enough away from this place because you shed tears for me."

"I would not do you the dishonor. And be that as it may," Roy replied softly, not following after the blond, "before I knew you were a selkie… I don't need you to cry for me to want to find you. So I know that forgetting you is more a fairytale thought than you yourself are. But if after tomorrow I never see you again, just remember that. Maybe then one day you'll understand then why I could never bear to enslave you in any fashion."

He shook his head then, and began making his way away from the sea, knowing now that he was really, royally screwed. How had it fucked up to this in only a little over a week? He had never wanted it to be this way, to have his thoughts overrun constantly by blond hair and golden eyes and their odd few meetings… and the way the selkie blissfully enjoyed those silly daiquiris. And when had it come to this? Had he been doomed the moment he'd laid eyes on that blond hair?

Why had it come to this?

Edward watched Roy head up the beach without a backward look to him. It was like watching Roy walk away from him that night at the bar and convincing himself he didn't feel disappointed. That for every single day afterwards up until he'd seen Roy again tonight, that he hadn't been in a mood that had made even his mother stop asking him what was wrong in that tone that frustratingly implied she already knew.

But he hadn't even known! And he had not been about to give her the satisfaction of his asking for enlightenment.

He hadn't known until now, watching Roy's retreating back, and feeling something foreign clench inside of him. And he knew at that moment that he couldn't let Roy walk away like this… not unless he wanted to be in a hellish mood until tomorrow morning.

Roy heard the water splashing, and believed Edward to have left. And he comforted himself knowing that he'd at least be able to see the blond tomorrow, he felt bitterly better with that thought in mind when a hand caught his and yanked him to a stop.

Edward was panting slightly from his run up the beach, and his hand clenched on Roy's firmly as he gazed back determinedly into surprised eyes. "If tomorrow fails, and your experiment tells me that you're not what I was meant to find… I'm glad I met you."

Roy felt a smile slip slowly into place, though it hurt him in a way a smile should not. "Not all humans are the same…" and he raised his free hand slowly towards Edward's face, giving him time to move away, time he did not take, and he brushed his fingers against the smooth skin. "Just as not all selkies are the same. Remember that too, sandy little angel."

Edward surprised even himself when he failed to rise to the bait of 'little', too overcome by the inexplicable warmth radiating from Roy's touch against his face. He nearly embarrassed himself by sighing into it, for though it was warm, oddly it gave him the same sense of satisfaction that cold condensation and a daiquiri did.

"I think you are beginning to understand though." Roy smiled faintly into the golden eyes that watched him without a flicker of fear. "You chased after me out of the water."

Edward flushed and tipped his head away from Roy's touch, the man's hand obediently fell away. "You did save my life." And he hated how it felt when Roy walked away from him. But he'd not tell the man something like that. He didn't even want to admit it to himself.

"What else could I have done?" Roy wondered aloud, truly miffed by the thought of doing anything else. But he shook his head, it didn't matter now. Edward was safe, his freedom intact. "I'll meet you before dawn just to be safe, but for right now I think we both need some sleep."

Edward nodded and released Roy's hand which he realized he'd still held, and tried not to mind the amused twinkle in Roy's eyes as he did so. "Just… thank you." And with a fleeting smile he stepped forward to lean up and chastely kiss Roy's cheek before blushing scarlet and whirling around to race down to the surf.

Roy stared after him wide-eyed and catatonic, one hand raised dumbly to his cheek as he watched the blond splash into the waves, and then out of nowhere, vanish as if he'd never been.

He barely slept that night, and when he did, he dreamt of gold and seals.

X

The next morning, well before dawn, Edward swam up into the bay after having taken Roy's advice and gotten some sleep. He knew that his suddenly non-volatile mood had been noticed by the others, but even his mother hadn't questioned him about it. Though he had that lurking suspicion all children had about their mothers at one time or another, that she already knew.

But she was neither here nor there right now, and he cast aside his thoughts about how much his mother knew in order to retrieve his items of disguise before swimming in nearer to the beach with them.

Once he had, and his transformation and immediate disguising to make himself appear like any other human was complete, Edward splashed out of the surf and up onto the harder, wetter sand.

Looking up towards the cottage he knew to belong to Roy, he took a deep breath to settle his nerves before heading in that direction. A glance around showed that the beach was still empty aside from himself, which suited him just fine.

The last few steps up onto the deck and to those twin doors separating the cottage from its view were the hardest, but biting his lower lip between his teeth in some act of steeling himself for what was to come, for placing himself before a human who knew what he was. But reach the doors he did, and hoping that his ember of trust in Roy would not be extinguished, he raised his hand to rap on one of the doors.

To him, the noise it created sounded hesitant.

Meanwhile inside the cottage…

Roy's head lifted from where he sat at his kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee. He'd given up on more sleep about twenty minutes ago after seeing that it was going on four in the morning. But any lingering tiredness fell by the wayside as he abandoned the unfinished cup to stand and hurry over to the patio deck doors where the knock had sounded from.

Almost feeling as if he didn't open it now, Edward would run off back to the sea.

He didn't want to lose this last chance to see him.

Wrenching the right door open he smiled in relief and welcome as he saw the blond standing on his doorstep looking rather on the nervous side. "Ready to begin?"

Edward's head tilted to one side in curiosity. "Just tell me what to do."

"Well," Roy began as he held up a hand to motion for Edward to wait as he stepped back inside, "let me grab some water and then we'll head out."

"Out?" Edward echoed, "out where?" What exactly did this human have in mind to do? And he shifted where he stood on the patio deck in his uncertainty.

Roy came back with a bottle of water and a smile. "Why, out to the ocean, of course." And barely glimpsing the surprise on Edward's face, he stepped outside to lock the doors and then turn to the blond at his side who was staring up at him in what could only be termed fascination. He felt himself begin to blush under the scrutiny, much to his dismay.

"You're going out into the ocean with me?" Edward asked slowly, to be sure he had this correct. "Your last chance to see me, and you take me out there?"

"How else are we going to see if it's me or something else in the bay?" Roy pointed out, and then smirked at the blond. "For being over two hundred years old you sure don't have a lot of reasoning skills at times."

"Hey!" Edward shouted after him indignantly as the man began to make his way down to the sand. Growling he darted after him. But he said nothing further as he stood by the side to watch as Roy grabbed a small dinghy that had been resting against the side of the cottage and began to haul it across the sand by a rope attached to the bow. "You aren't worried that I'd just swim off?"

"You won't until you know for sure." Roy pointed out and continued to pull the dinghy towards the water. It didn't weigh much at all, luckily, for it didn't seem that his shapeshifter companion was inclined to assist him. A trilling sound that didn't sound entirely human met his assessment, and he glanced over at the blond with an arching eyebrow. "What was that supposed to mean?"

Edward flushed slightly and his eyes darted down to the sand. "Roughly… I was agreeing."

Roy chuckled and put renewed effort into his pulling of the dinghy. "So are you able to have full communication of both species no matter which form you're in?"

"As a human, to a point." Edward explained without really considering not telling him. "As a seal, not at all. It rarely matters though, selkies can communicate with each other no matter what form they're in."

"You'll be able to understand me then as a seal?" Roy just wanted to be sure he had this straight.

Edward nodded and looked out across the sea pensively. "Even if I'm under the water. If I'm close enough I'll hear. Sound carries better than you humans think down there."

Roy nodded, filing it away that he needn't yell for Edward to be heard once they got out there. He doubted such a thing would be appreciated. And with a few last good tugs, Roy managed to get the dinghy down to the water. "How far out do you think you'll need to go to know for sure?" Roy asked as he began to push the dinghy out deeper.

Edward splashed into the water at his side, still not bothering to transform himself yet. He wasn't exactly deep enough to make it easy to get right to swimming, he was a bit finicky when it came to mucking about in the sand. "Until I get free of the current coming into the bay… so a little over a mile out, more towards the west."

Roy nodded and gave one last push as the dinghy began to float handily on its own and he would have room for the oars to work too. "This may take a while, no motor." He warned as he hopped into the boat, unmindful of its rocking from his action as he took a seat on the bench.

"Maybe I'll find some breakfast then too while I'm at it." Edward smirked, "just do me a favor and fish these clothes out of the water for me? I'd hide them again, but I'm not sure if I'll be inclined to need them again while we're out there."

Roy nodded as he picked up one oar and laid it across his knees. "All right then." And with his curiosity at full power he watched as Edward sank down underneath the water.

Almost instantly the odd assorted articles of clothing that the selkie must have stolen floated up, and Roy obediently leaned over the side of the dinghy to grab them up and toss them into the boat for safekeeping. Shaking his head with a smile he picked up both oars and stuck them into the water slowly, not wanting to bash the selkie he still couldn't see over the head.

He doubted that would go over well with the hot-tempered Edward.

Chuckling to himself he began to carefully row at first, giving Edward more than enough time to get away from the oars, before putting a bit more power into it so that he could get past the worst of the initial waves coming into the bay.

Under the water Edward floated lazily on his back for a moment, watching the boat above him begin to move at a faster pace. It seemed that Roy was wasting no time. With a series of relieved clicks that he was in the water again, safe, and about to find out for sure one way or the other about Roy, he gave a slap of his tail against the sandy bottom to shoot up through the water.

Easily ducking around the oars he gave a few sideways tumbles around the bottom of the dinghy before shooting ahead with a powerful flick of his flippers and rapidly surfaced just ahead of the boat.

Roy startled at the sudden disruption of the water, much to his immediately disgruntled amusement, but all of that soon went away as he stared in awe at the seal now blocking his way. It was one thing to just know, but another to see. And there was no mistaking those fiery golden eyes of the slate grey seal who was watching him. Slowly he began to smile, the smile growing ever wider as he set the oars aside in their hooks and carefully made his way to the bow to sit.

"Do you know how hard it is not to try and pet you?" He asked with a bit of a laugh.

Edward huffed into the water, disrupting the surface of it violently before he ducked under the water only to quickly somersault and slap his tail against the surface. When he popped back up he began to bark in laughter as a sopping Roy pushed wet hair out of his eyes while glaring at him.

"Right, got it. No comments that you're cute." Roy rolled his eyes, smirking as the seal's barking became just one, one indignant bark. And before he could be splashed again he quickly backed up to sit on the bench again and grab up the oars. "Now out of my way, I doubt you'd like to be run over."

Edward sneezed in answer and dove back under the water as Roy began to row once more. Making a rather large half-circle through the water underneath the boat he then shot forward to get ahead of the dinghy again. But this time he surfaced up a few yards ahead of it. Turning his head he gave a demanding bark before beginning to slowly swim across the surface to guide Roy's way, only ducking down every so often to check that there were no sharks.

Roy obediently followed after Edward, still smiling in a way that made him believe he might never stop. Never in his life did he think he'd one day be following a selkie out into the ocean, but here he was. His only regret was the knowledge that after this he knew Edward didn't want to see him again… wanted to be forgotten.

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts Roy applied himself actively once more to his rowing, every now and then glancing back to see how far they'd gone. Not that it mattered. He'd follow Edward until the selkie stopped.

Edward swam west until he was free of the warm current, but he could never break free of his instinct. They were almost two miles off of shore, far from even seeing Seolh Bay. But even without the current, his instinct was still trying to pull him back. A frustrated, high-pitched chirp escaped him as he gave a quick vertical spin in the water. What the hell was it? What was he supposed to find there?

In his frustration he had forgotten about Roy, until the man spoke, startling a yip out of him.

"Sorry." Roy grinned abashedly as golden eyes glared into him. "I was just saying… no, never mind. Just do something for me, swim over behind the boat as if you were going to go back to the bay."

Roy knew in that moment, that his words could easily have been the very last ones he'd say to Edward, for if it was not him that Edward was meant to find, for whatever reason, than the selkie had no reason to linger. But if it was him… he held back the sigh, Edward wouldn't stay for long. And he stared hard at the selkie, trying to memorize everything.

Edward tilted his head to one side, large eyes studying the human in the boat before he suddenly ducked under again to do as had been suggested. With a flap of his tail he propelled himself under the boat.

Only to suddenly tumble to a halt in the water as his instinct yanked inside of him. Changing directions so fast it left him momentarily disoriented.

And when he managed to clear his head his eyes clearly reflected his shock, denial, and confused amazement. Uncertainly he looked back around for the dinghy, and he didn't need the slight little tug of his instinct to impart to him that Roy was beginning to row in a circle – clearly about to leave.

A flash of panic completely foreign to him rushed through his body, and Edward shot up through the water frantically to surface with his front flippers shoving against the side of the boat to try and stop it, change its course, anything.

Roy swore colorfully, one hand clutching at his chest. He'd thought Edward was gone! Not about to try giving him a heart attack! But one look at the wild look in those golden eyes caused whatever reprimands he might have said to die on his lips, and he frowned as he abandoned the other oar to its hook. "You okay?"

Edward's flippers slipped away from the boat before he gave a lunge and hooked them, along with a third of his body over the edge of the dinghy, causing Roy to swear again and lean all of his weight to the other side so they didn't capsize.

"Edward!" Roy berated him. "What's wrong? Do you want in the boat?"

Edward honestly didn't know, and a helpless sounding trill left him as he slumped his head down and his eyes closed.

Roy sighed then, "it's me, isn't it?"

Edward huffed.

Roy took that as an affirmative, and rubbed at the back of his neck with a hand. "You don't have to look so depressed about it, you know. You'll hurt my feelings."

The golden eyes cracked open again, and Edward slid down off of the boat, causing Roy to yelp and nearly be pitched off the side as the dinghy swayed violently with the sudden loss of weight.

Roy grumbled under his breath as he scooted over to the other side so he could look down at Edward. "Look… at least now you know. I mean, I don't know what is even remotely special about me, enough to have caused this to happen to you. But cheer up, at least it's something. One less thing for you to feel so lost over."

Edward half-turned in the water, glancing over at Roy before suddenly swimming back a few feet from the boat and slapping his flippers against the water. And when Roy didn't immediately seem to get it, he slapped them again while nodding his head.

Roy tilted his head as he tried to figure it out, "you want me to come in there?"

Edward nodded again, slapping his flippers demandingly against the sea.

Roy wasn't about to ask why, knowing that he'd probably not get an answer. It didn't seem that Edward was inclined to shapeshift back to a human form anytime soon. Not that he minded too much, he had no right to demand what form Edward be in just for his own convenience.

So kicking off his flip-flops and pulling off his shirt to leave him in just his swim trunks, he eased himself to the edge of the dinghy before giving a quick dive into the water. He didn't even have time to surface himself, much less get a good look around, before a slate grey seal had come up under him to force him to the surface.

Coming up he released the breath he'd been holding as the arm Edward had swum up under stayed draped around the selkie's shoulders. "So why am I in here?" He asked conversationally to the seal who was watching him carefully.

Edward blinked at him and then began to swim forward with Roy in tow. He continued to stare back at the human obediently hanging around his shoulders as he made a complete circuit around the boat before stopping.

Roy barely had time to register anything was changing when suddenly his arm was on its own in the water, and he was staring at a very human looking Edward again. "Well?"

Edward tread water absently as he considered the man. "I wanted to make sure it was you, and not the boat."

"The boat?" Roy deadpanned, unimpressed.

Edward splashed him with a roll of his eyes. "Yes, the boat. You never know." And then he looked away with a far-off gaze. "It wasn't… but I don't understand why it's you. You say you're nothing special –"

"Don't say you agree." Roy warned him through suspiciously narrowed eyes.

That actually earned a quick grin, but it quickly faded as Edward looked back at him somberly. "I was going to say that I'm really not sure…" he shook his head bitterly, "I don't know what to do."

And then Roy was suddenly staring at a seal's face again. With a sigh he reached forward and against his splashing of earlier, laid his hand against the silky, velvet furred skin of the selkie's head. "I thought you wanted our association to end?"

Edward's eyes closed briefly before he quickly turned his head to catch Roy's hand lightly in his mouth, but he was careful not to bite down with teeth that he knew were sharp. And he held it there in his mouth as Roy looked back at him without a trace of fear.

"Last night might not have been the best night to make ultimatums." Roy continued, unmindful that he could very well lose his hand right now. "You went through something that scared you, for good reason. And maybe that fear carried over to me despite what I've said about how I feel regarding keeping you against your will. In light of that… I suggest you take a day, or even two, and just think about everything. And perhaps give me my hand back so I can tread water a bit easier."

Edward immediately did so.

"Thanks." Roy chuckled and gained a bit more ground over the surface of the gently moving ocean. "You know where to find me if you decide to see where it leads you."

Edward bowed his head in thought, before he gave a nod. With one last parting look at Roy he turned around the end of the boat and gave a leap through the water before diving under to swim off towards open ocean.

Roy knew without being told that Edward had left, and he tried not to feel regretful about it as he clambered back into the boat. His eyes fell on the strange assortment of clothing, and he sighed. He wasn't sure where Edward had been hiding them, and hadn't been told what to do with them. So with no other choice, he began to row back to Seolh Bay with them.

He just hoped that their continued presence didn't mean that Edward would not be returning.