AN: So, it looks like I just couldn't stay away from this couple...Lol! Ariel and Jim are just too fun to write about. This is the sequel to His Treasure, so if you haven't read that, I would highly recommend reading that first due to the fact that you probably will have no clue what's going on! This takes place a week after Jim comes to live in Atlantica. Btw, to be honest, I don't go back and proofread my work, so my grammar is probably horrendous. Sooo if anyone would like to be my Beta, please let me know. Oh and if you have any ideas please let me know! I love feedback. Let the craziness begin...
Dawn's first rays of early light had yet to break out over the coastal horizon. The only audible sound for miles was the distant bray of a lone seagull as it glided effortlessly on oceanic gusts. In the early morning hours, to the naked human eye, it would appear that all life in the small kingdom bordering the sea still slumbered.
But perception is often deceiving. Catch a ride on the back of that same vagabond seagull as it soars out past the cliffs and over the breaking white capped surf of the ocean. Follow its reflection across the surface of the water almost a mile and then...
Dive into the warm tropical depths, exploring deeper past the underwater canyons that have weathered the test of time. Swim past the clouds of various multicolored schools of fish as they float freely caught in the current's hazy grasp. And there, on the ocean's floor, so far deep that no human boat's anchor could never hope to graze...was the magical and magnificent kingdom of Atlantica.
Unbeknownst to the human race, the ancient yet thriving aquatic metropolis was also home to the equally legendary race of merpeople that inhabited it.
Towering stone stone gates and impenetrable walls encircled its borders, a guard against all unwelcome outsiders. However, nestled inside the growing community, were hundreds of carefully constructed rock formations each varying in sizes and shapes. In other words, these were the equivalents to a human house, complete with yards, gardens, and other characteristics of the domestic variety.
Now weave through the city's sand-bottom streets to the northwest corner of the kingdom, in one of the corners of the marketplace, there was a modestly sized rock home whose glow lights had just been switched on...
"Hawkins! Up and at em!"
The loud baritone echoed through the open spaced bachelor pad. On the lower level, a young merman looking to be in his early twenties was quickly but efficiently preparing his breakfast. Strong hands roughened by countless adventures seemed ill placed with the care used in putting the finishing touches on his very ordinary seaweed toast.
When no response was given, hazel eyes bordering on green rolled and then fell closed as a sigh and a shake of his head followed. Here we go again... With one last wistful glance to his perfectly crafted toast, and a flick of burnt orange transparent fins, Finn rose up through the kitchen, through a large circular opening in the ceiling and up to the second floor. This space contained the bedroom and bath areas. Unlike most bachelor pads, this one was immaculate, reflecting the personality of its owner: efficient, effective and to the point, with hints of quirkiness.
And there, on the left side of the room, curled up in a hammock style bed, covered from head to fin in blanket, was the lazy lump that was the target of Finn's frustration. A slight narrowing of the eyes was the only warning the unsuspecting "lump" had before receiving a swift strike to the hammock therefore causing its contents to come tumbling unceremoniously to the floor.
Ah! Our hero is revealed. Messy, bid-ridden, hair that sticks out in all directions, and half-lidded puffy blue eyes all gave testament to the caliber of this adventurer. Groggily propping himself up on his elbows, a glare of ice and pure contempt was given through chestnut strands.
"Your fins... are mine."
Unaffected by the murderous intent, Finn had the audacity to look mock horrified for the entire span of one full second before rolling his eyes and added in a condescending tone that was inherent to all brotherly relationships,
"Yes, well, we can discuss that awkward topic along with a million other impossibilities when we are not late to class, or have you forgotten how the crab can get?"
Finn's tone had gone from comical to dead serious in a matter of clever phrases. Judging by the way the color drained from the younger teen's face and panic settled in its wake, Finn knew he got the desired response.
"Meet me outside in five." With a turn and flick of his fins, Finn exited the room leaving Jim Hawkins to his solitude. Throwing off his baby blue blanket in a rush, the mental image of an irate Sebastian spurring him on, Jim suddenly stopped at the sight of his lower half.
How many times had he just stared at the new appendage that symbolized his new life under the sea. Transparent fins encircled his waist, and sent tingling sensations as his fingertips brushed against them. It wasn't smooth skin that proceeded downwards past his lean hips but something other than human entirely. Scales, smooth and sturdy in nature felt almost like silk laid over pure muscle. It was sapphire hued scales that covered him all the way down the muscular limb until it gave way to long matching transparent sky hued fins.
Fins that would be at the mercy of Sebastian if he didn't get moving. With practiced ease, he gave one flick of the aforementioned fins and glided over to the bathroom area stopping in front of the mirror. Gazing long and hard at the reflection in the mirror, he examined his own features as if at any second some bizarre fishy trait would make itself apparent on his face. It wasn't that he necessarily didn't like being a merman. No that wasn't it at all. It just felt sort of ...surreal. He had only lived in Atlantica, lived as a merman, now for only a week. To be honest, he was almost expecting to wake up from this undeserved dream.
But then, glancing downwards, he caught sight of the small coral picture frame on the counter. A small smile graced his lips at the sight of it. It was a picture of he and Ariel, taken only two days ago, at the yearly coral blooming festival. In this particular snapshot, Ariel was reaching up and placing a kiss on his cheek while he held her loosely around the waist, smiling and blushing like a fool. Looking at that picture only renewed in his mind why he had made such a life altering decision. He loved Ariel , and home really only was where she existed. And on that note, he now only had two and a half minutes to get ready...Crap...
Exactly two and a half minutes later, found our heroes straining every muscle in their aquatic halves possible leaving trails of bubbles in their wake as they sped to their golden destination.
"Hawkins, I can't believe I am busting my tail again, just cus' you and Sparky don't know the meaning of curfew."
Jim gave smirk, daring Finn with the mischief in his eyes.
"Or...you could just go to sleep, you know Ariel and I don't exactly need babysitters."
A flat death glare was given in return. It appeared Ariel's "big brother" was not amused.
"And it's right there in the word, I have to sit up and wait for you so that there won't be any babies. Triton would have the both of us fried seven different ways to Tuesday if he ever found out you defiled his baby." Jim rolled his eyes.
"Says the guy who was lip-locked with her older sister for over an hour."
Finn merely shrugged slightly impressed, and kept onward.
"Five shells says they're late." Stevie's voice rang throughout the classroom.
Sculpted like an ancient Greek outdoor theater, this particular room, convenient to the palace was used for learning or an informal board room of sorts. Curved stone ledges provided seating while the speaker was free t move about in the center of the room. Like any other week day, each intended mate took up a casual residence on one of these ledges.
Sharp amber eyes locked onto the younger male.
"Isn't it a little early to be making wagers?' Caspian inquired apathetically. From the other side of the room, a merman with spiked ebony hued hair and navy tail, shook his head.
"Not at all Caspian, especially when the bet is too easy to win."
The merman, with a plum colored tail, beside him looked up through messy bronze locks and revealed a smile.
"I'm with Riley on this one. I say they both make it."
And then from the opposite side of the room, the final merman with the fiery crimson red tail and blonde surfer features jumped up from his seat rising to the occasion.
"Well, I'm with my main dude Stevie. Sebastian's got their fins nailed for sure!" To add emphasis he and Stevie exchanged a high five, unofficially sealing the bet.
"Dake ya seats, mans! Class will be sta 'ting shaartly!" The booming authoritative Caribbean tone belonged to the one pound infamous crustacean who had just entered the room. All the boys settled down but not before Stevie whispered as Sebastian was pulling out his teaching materials from his shell, his back turned to the boys,
"You're right Riley, that bet was too easy..."
However, exactly at that precise moment, as if by some sort of cosmic prank, two blurs of current came barreling into the room in a storm of bubbles each tumbling onto the floor mere feet from where Sebastian was floating. The two whirlwinds turned out to be none other than Finn and Jim, both boys panting from the exertion, Jim bent over on his hands and tail, while Finn appeared to be reclining comfortably on the floor.
This was the sight that greeted Sebastian as he turned. Clearly unamused and unimpressed, his initial response was a mere crossing of his claws over his tiny soft shelled chest and a narrowing of his eyes clearly searching for any incriminating evidence.
"And what is all dis den?"
Jim glanced at Finn in mild alarm before the elder of the two seemed to relax even more keeping eye contact with Sebastian effortlessly like it was some sort of a challenge.
"Just waiting for you to start fearless leader."
At his response, Jim smirked, all nerves forgotten. His gaze locking onto Sebastian's as well further daring Sebastian on.
Sneaky rascals. Sebastian just shook his head in defeat. Ever since Jim Hawkins had been pronounced a royal intended mate, it seemed that Finn had taken him under his wing or rather added him as one of his accomplices in mischief that only served to make his life miserable. In fact, Jim's addition to this brood of miscreants only served to make their daily pranks on him more clever and headache worthy.
"Da floor is hardly da place for futah kings. Dake mah appropriate seats."
Finn just rolled his eyes and swam over to sit next to Caspian with a more somber Jim following at his side. The younger teen gave a glance to his bicep where a pure golden ringlet encircled it. That's right, he remembered. He was almost a prince of all things, destined mate to princess Ariel youngest daughter of King Triton ruler of the sea.
In fact, they all were. Each merman presently in the room was an intended mate and possible future king of Atlantica. It was the sole purpose for these daily classes. Now that the final mate had been discovered, King Triton thought it appropriate that the boys have the proper training so that in time, they would be prepared to rule the kingdom justly should anything happen to him or for the honest reason of him stepping down in order to thoroughly enjoy his time with his future grandchildren. He had to spoil them rotten after all.
Even though it was most likely impossible due to the fact that merpeople were immortal, another fun fact that Jim still was coming to terms with, Jim still felt his chest tighten in familiar anxious anticipation.
I'm no king... Heck, Jim was still trying to understand the basics to the merfolk culture in general. It would be literal social suicide if he held the responsibility of an entire kingdom in his clearly inexperienced hands.
"Now let's begin!" Sebastian's voice boomed breaking Jim's anxious line of thinking.
"As you all know, summah approaches, and wit it comes da summah games."
At the mention of the annual competition, whispers and snickering erupted all around the room. Taking advantage of the distraction, Jim leaned over to Finn.
"What are the summer games?" Strangely smug, Finn leaned back against the smooth stone ledge.
"Basically, it's just an excuse for all bordering kingdoms to gather peaceably and show off their athletic skill in a series of competitions. It's an understated maneuver to maintain peace and alliances." Jim nodded in understanding but could that really be the reason for all the mischievous glances?
"Absolutely not!" Sebastian's peeved no nonsense tone bellowed once more.
"Dis year will not be a repeat of last year! Prince Thor is off limits am I undahstood!"
The high five between Rip and Stevie pointed in the negative. Jim smirked but looked to Finn for an explanation.
"Perfectly, fearless leader Sir!" Finn mocked saluting. Jim swore the tiny crab was turning purple and that multiple veins were popping out on his forehead. Rolling his eyes, Caspian lazily turned around to face Jim.
"Thor is the crowned prince of Olympia." A secretive Cheshire grin curved onto Caspian's angular features as the effects of the content that he was about to divulge surfaced in his mind's eye.
"For the past several years, Thor has had quite an... unrelenting... interest in Ariel to say the least. Needless to say, he was proven by the trident not to be Ariel's intended. However he has disputed the validity of our kingdom's most sacred artifact and has henceforth continued onward with his obnoxious pursuits. I suspect that his intentions lie with the future assimilation of Atlantica through a royal marriage rather than any true feeling for Ariel."
Caspian watched how stormy blue eyes hardened into ice and how Jim's lips tightened into a thin line as was expected.
"Therefore, we have had the supreme pleasure of showing his highness how welcome he is here at every given opportunity. I'd like to think of it as a more interesting sort of competition myself. I must say, it will be quite intriguing to say the least with your addition."
Once hardened features shifted into a more malicious smirk, and one could practically see the wheels turning through Jim's eyes.
"Well I say, let the games begin..."
"Finally freedom!" Adella's declaration was made clear as the seaweed door to the girls' bedroom parted for the incoming procession of a royal rainbow. Yellow, blue, orange, lavendar, red, purple, and last but certainly not least green, all made their way into the room, half going to the mirror to primp the other half crashing on their large clam shell beds.
"I swear if Dudley said one more word, I would have throttled that turtle! I don't care how ancient he is!" Aquata vented from her seat at the vanity.
"Noooooowwww tooooodddaaaayyyy weeeeee wiiiiillll beeeeee taaallllkkkkinnngggg aaaaaabbooouttt..." Arista mimicked complete with dull facial features. Her reward was a stuffed animal colliding with her head.
A soft giggle was heard from the window sill. Bright blue eyes that reflected the watery depths that surrounded her glittered with amusement. Really, her sisters proved to be the best entertainment sometimes.
Turning her attention back to the kingdom below, Ariel, the youngest daughter of Triton and crowned princess of Atlantica noticed that a single bright fuchsia ocean blossom had just blossomed. Running her fingertips in a gentle caress over the fragile petal, a serene smile graced her lips.
The first blossom of summer...how pretty. Soon the entire kingdom would be covered in these tiny flowers, giving Atlantica a fresh burst of natural plant life. Ariel's eyes slipped closed relishing the thoughts of the days to come. Summer was by far her most favorite time of year. The water was warm, new life abounded everywhere you looked, and of course it was so exciting with the coming of the games. It was wonderful to meet new friends and catch up with old friends that lived a great distance away. I can't wait to share all of this with Jim.
Opening her eyes, she looked to the symbol of her upcoming happiness, only to find the small blossom gone. Eyebrows furrowed in confused, Ariel looked all over the vine covered sill only to find no traces of the flower. Mentally questioning if the flower was ever there Ariel looked back at her sisters for any answers.
"Missing something princess?"
Before turning to the very familiar voice, a small smile curved on ruby red lips. Sure enough, there floating below her window was the culprit of the missing blossom. Jim Hawkins held the stolen flower, a playful smirk adorning his features, completely smug in his guiltiness. Ariel shook her head, fighting the blush that threatened to stain her cheeks. Mischief shining clear in her eyes, she purposed that she would beat him at his own game.
"It seems that someone has stolen my most precious flower." Now obvious to his presence, Ariel's sisters gathered around her each watching in anticipation for what their sister had up her sleeve.
Smirking and glancing from the flower back to Ariel, Jim taunted her further.
"And what would you be willing to wager to get it back?" Rapt in anticipation, Ariel's sisters watched her closely to hear what her answer would be. Pondering her course of action, Ariel lightly bit her lip in concentration much to the secret delight of a certain merman. Her eyes lit with a mischievious glint when the answer came to her.
"A chase. If you catch me, the flower is yours but...if you can't ...then you have to give me back that flower as well as ten more like it."
Jim's smirk deepened with the challenge set before him. Ariel was by far the fastest mermaid in the whole kingdom. This would prove to be quite interesting.
The collective group of sisters erupted in furious whispers and chatter.
"But Ariel what if..." Arista's concern was unheeded by her sister as she suddenly torpedoed upwards toward the surface with Jim already hot on her fins in pursuit.
"Dinner's at six!" Attina called out after the pair shaking her head at the teenage antics
Rocketing upwards toward the surface at breakneck speeds were two blurs: the first green and the second blue. Spiraling towards the border of where the sea meets the sky, Ariel pumped her fins as fast as she could in giddy excitement. The knowledge that Jim was merely inches away served to only enhance the adrenaline running through her system. In response, she couldn't help the giggles that slipped from her lips.
The surface was only feet away now and she knew that it was understood between the two of them that the surface was the finish line. Even more than that, it was the fact that Jim was the one pursuing her now. It was the fact that he desired to follow after her wherever she went no matter the destination.
Always chase after me Jim, no matter where life takes us.
Her unexpected retreat had caused instinct to take over and he just reacted charging after her in reckless abandon. Even though he hadn't got quite a handle on them, his instincts, while at times unsettling, had never proven to be anything but helpful.
I guess that's why they're called instincts, huh.
Currently, he was more than happy to indulge them given the vision before him. In the early afternoon light, the sun's rays shone off Ariel's body giving it an ethereal glow, the scales of her tail glittering like priceless diamonds. Jim shook his head at the dizzying realization that this was his mate, the one that he would get to spend forever with.
Even now it seemed as if the sun had this gravitational pull that drew her to it only adding to her speed.
She's so fast! Since his transformation, he and Ariel had never outright raced and so he had never witnessed the velocities at which she could soar. By far, she had to be the fastest mermaid in the entire kingdom of Atlantica. And now with only mere feet to the surface's edge, Jim knew he only had seconds to make a crucial move before this race would come to an end.
She may be fast but...
Straining every muscle in his body, Jim reached up and with perhaps a second to spare encircled the petite mermaid's waist pulling her towards his chest as they broke the surface ocean water splaying all around a rare sight to behold.
Out of breath and still running high on adrenaline, both teens burst into out right laughter never leaving the others' embrace.
"That was...so much fun!" Ariel exclaimed grinning practically from ear to ear. Jim nodded in agreement.
"I know! Unreal huh?" As the seconds passed, the reality of their close proximity permeated Jim's thoughts. A serene mood feel over the pair and Ariel was content to gaze at her mate to be's face, feeling completely safe and at ease in his embrace.
Suddenly serious, Jim uncurled his loose fist revealing the forgotten prize of the tiny flowers whose petals remained intact despite the rough handling its owner exerted. With careful concentration and precision, Jim tucked the blossom in her hair right above her ear, smiling slightly at his handiwork.
She was beautiful.
Ariel couldn't help the slight rosy blush that answered in response. Unable to help himself lost in the moment, Jim slowly leaned down placing a chaste kiss on her lips. Always warm and soft this kiss seemed to say, I'm so happy that you're mine.
After a moment, Ariel pulled away, and Jim could see that an idea had formed in those bright cerulean eyes.
"Come on, I want to show you something." Giving her a nod, Jim followed behind her as they swam above the surface in what seemed like coming closer to the shoreline. Sure enough, their destination turned out to be a small cove encircled by large stones, and tiny rivers running off the cliffs above into it creating miniature waterfalls. The entire area was covered in lush greenery and tropical flowers giving the place a natural ambiance.
"Whoa, what is this place?" Jim exclaimed in wonder now treading water chest deep in the cove with Ariel by his side. Somber, Ariel swam over to a particular stone that seemed large enough for a couple to recline on. She leaned against it, tracing absent designs and patterns against its surface. The young merman behind her was smart enough to know that this place was significant to her and as such he remained silent waiting for her to speak.
Not trusting the strength of her own voice, Ariel spoke softly finding that her throat was constricting with emotion.
"This was where my family used to come all the time when I was very young. We used to be so happy here..." Ariel's eyes glazed, and Jim knew she was reliving past memories of times gone and longed for.
"This was...the last place I saw her...before she died." Jim closed the distance between them enclosing her within the security of his comforting embrace. Unsure of what to say, he remained silent. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her.
Wiping un-shed tears from her eyes, Ariel smiled shaking her head.
"She wouldn't have wanted this, she would have wanted us to keep coming here, she would want us to be happy."
"Maybe we could, you know? I'm sure your sisters and the guys would love to hang out here." he whispered stroking her back in soothing circles. Ariel's features automatically brightened.
"Jim, that's a wonderful idea!" She threw her arms tightly about him. "I know they'd love to come back here. It will be like old times, I just know it!" Breaking out of the circle of his arms, Ariel made to leap out of the cove.
"And where are you going now? We just got here!" Jim called clearly amused at how quickly his little mermaids moods could shift. Looking over her shoulder, Ariel grinned.
"Home of course. I can't wait to tell them about the cove!" Without another word, Ariel leapt over the rock and into the awaiting sea. Jim merely shook his head and followed after. One thing was for certain. A lifetime with Ariel by his side would never be boring.
Watching the two merpeople submerge into their watery home, three figures emerged on the cliffs above, two of which were clearly not of the human species. However, it was the tall human man in the center of the group that wordlessly commanded all attention, his gaze on the ocean intense and unyielding.
"Soon, James Hawkins...soon..."
An: First of all I would like to give credit to kbsrep and the talented writer iesnoth for inspiring me with their spectacular videos on youtube! I have a lot of ideas for this story, a confrontation with Thor and Jim and shadowy new villains from Jim's past...please review and tell me your thoughts. Again, I am looking for a beta, so please let me know if you are interested. ~ Later days~