Man From Atlantis: Saving the Selkies

Chapter 9

Elizabeth burrowed under the brown blanket the paramedic handed her and sipped on hot coffee. The police had just finished their rounds of questioning and Juliette surprised them all by revealing her father's poaching scheme and showing the damning evidence. Elizabeth never thought she'd see the day when Schubert was taken away by handcuffs, but it finally came. After a few minutes her nerves returned to normal. She removed the blanket and put the coffee down. She slid off the back of the ambulance to search for Mark. After he was questioned he wandered off lost in thought. Although the police found it a miracle that Mark rescued her from two killer whales, no one suspected he was a water-breathing man. Schubert didn't expose the truth. But the vicious glare of revenge in his bright eyes chilled Elizabeth as he passed her without saying a word. She knew he would not be gone for good.

She found Mark sitting alone in the bleachers staring at the sky. He seemed to be counting the stars. She nestled beside him and he smiled and put his arm over her.

"Elizabeth, It is hard to believe that Schubert was caught. And that his own daughter turned him in."

"I know, but that is how life is sometimes. It turns on a dime."

"What do you mean by that? I have heard that "money makes the world go 'round," but surely life is worth much more than a dime?"

Elizabeth giggled. "Well, you are right about money. But the dime phrase just means that life often changes fast and unexpected within such a small space or time."

"I see. I feel bad for Juliette. She accompanied him to the jail to answer more questions, but she is not paying for Mr. Schubert's bail. I know it was hard for her to make that decision. She still loves him despite his faults."

"Of course she does, but even she knows that her love can't be blind. Schubert has to pay for his actions one way or another. I'm glad he is."

Mark gazed at the pool. "So am I. It is one thing for him to threaten my life, but I would never let him hurt the ones I care for. I must visit Juliette shortly. She needs some comfort."

"That's so kind of you, Mark. She'll appreciate it."

"By the way, I spoke to CW, and he will allow us to bring Velvet and Renee home on the Cetacean as soon as possible." Mark smirked. "I think he was quite taken with Velvet. Because I cannot see him readily agreeing otherwise. He did not even mention the budget once."

"Hmm. That's surprising. You know, all this happened, and I never even got to meet her as a human. I imagine she must be very beautiful. If you were to have a child with her, I'm sure it would be gorgeous." Elizabeth sighed. "Schubert wasn't wrong about that."

"Velvet is very captivating, but Selkie women often are as a whole. Elizabeth, may I explain something?"

"Of course. Anything."

"It was hard to resist her, I admit it, but I did. Because I did not love her. She understands that now. We are simply friends."

Elizabeth bit her lip and wrung her hands. She gazed up at him. The moonlight reflected off his shining eyes, creating an explosion of green hues as the colors faded to hazel. Although heedless of them, Mark Harris was not without his own captivating and seductive qualities.

"Mark, what you said to me by the pool, did you mean it? And then that kiss after…"

Elizabeth trailed off as Mark stared into her eyes. He slowly kissed her in the same serene, roaming manner over her face and lips. Elizabeth clutched him and felt an urge to swoon for the first time in her life. She couldn't imagine where he ever learned to kiss so beautifully. He drew back content.

"I do not say what I do not mean, Elizabeth. I am not sure of the customs regarding love, some are sweet and gentle, but at times it apparently causes confusion and even hurt. But why should it ever? Love is beautiful and is threaded with layers of fine emotions – happiness, loyalty, romance, friendship, commitment, honesty, respect… I am still figuring it all out. Tonight, I have learned from Juliette's actions that forgiveness is a big part of love. If those are the attributes, then yes, I do love you, Elizabeth."

Mark stood and hovered with expectation. "Do you love me? Can you love me, despite our differences?"

Elizabeth jumped up and placed her arms over his neck. "Absolutely. Mark, our relationship is one of a kind. It is amazing. And I like to think that it's based on the same. I would never trade it for anything. Mark, I've known for a while that I loved you. But because of our professional relationship I just couldn't bring myself to tell you. I'm sorry."

Mark grinned and ran his thumb over her cheek. "You do not have to be sorry. I am glad we have spoken it now. I once saw an elderly couple on the beach. They seemed so joyful, they only had eyes for each other. It was then I realized that I desired that too. I want someone to share my life and experiences with as I age."

"I think in some way, every one wants that, Mark. Whether it's through love, through marriage, friendship, family…"

Mark thought of Juliette and her needs for affection. He hoped one day she would find her true happiness. "But not every one can find love, can they? That is not fair, is it?"

"No it's not. But it also depends on timing and many factors." Elizabeth decided to give her scientific mind a rest and not try to rationalize and dissect love. She toyed with his webbed hands and laced her fingers through his. "You deserve all that and more. And I hope…that I can give it to you. For so long I've been attached to my career and the greater good with helping the Navy. But I've neglected myself and what I really desired." She smiled. "But then again, I had no idea what I desired until we met. I want you, Mark."

Mark picked her up and she laughed aloud. She snuggled in his arms and rested her head on his shoulder. He kissed her hair and tenderly nuzzled the bruises on her neck where Leif grabbed her. When he witnessed the danger on the platform, he felt as if the air were choked out of him.

"Elizabeth, you can still have your work and help the oceans. But we will always do it together. It is a perfect match, right?"

Elizabeth chuckled. "Right. This is so wonderful. I feel much better. There is a lot to talk about, Mark. I mean, about us."

Mark smiled, but then his gaze became serious. "I know, but now is not the time. We still have to deal with Velvet and Renee and get them home."

"That's right."

Mark lowered her and they walked toward the exit. For now, all the players involved in this crime were apprehended and Sea Planet was to be shut down. The State department was sending special trainers to help maintain the animals and and they were eventually going to be dispersed to other Sea parks.

Mark held Elizabeth's hand. "Elizabeth, there is something I have to tell you. Velvet spoke of a legend. I know you find them hard to believe, but everything she said tied in to my origins. She has met me before, when I was still a boy of fifteen."

"Really? What is the legend?"

"The legend of the Fin Folk. It is not a common one like mermaids and King Neptune. If she is right, then I am the last of them, but not full-blooded. Velvet can explain better than I can. I left CW to watch over the Selkies in the Cetacean. They are very happy to know Schubert is in custody and they're all safe."

Elizabeth's eyes widened. "Oh! CW! How is he? I was so worried."

"He is fine, Elizabeth. He was drugged the same as you and locked in his office closet, but unharmed."

"Thank goodness. He tried to help me. I really can't wait to hear about this Fin Folk story."

Mark admitted something else. "Elizabeth, when we bring the Selkies home, I plan to stay in Ireland for a little while. It is very important that I find out the truth."

Elizabeth felt her heart drop. Just when they had expressed their love, he needed to leave. But she was mature enough to accept it. Mark could never move forward if he didn't understand where he came from. His not knowing would always intrude upon their relationship. He was still the only water-breathing man in existence, and despite their feelings, and his adaptability to the land, she would never fully comprehend their differences. But they were both reasonably young, and had a long, full life of love and discovery to look forward to.

Elizabeth caressed his arm. "Mark, I would never try and stop you. You need to ease any doubts and fears you have, and if that means leaving for a while, then you have to do it."

Mark held her shoulders. "I knew I could count on you to be supportive. Elizabeth, I am willing to have you make the trip with me. You are an important part of my life, you saved me and gave me a new direction and purpose. Whatever is out there for me I want to share it with you."

Elizabeth hugged him tight. "Mark, I would love to. And I would if I could get away from my work here. But that's not even the issue." Elizabeth paced around him. "I think this is something that you need to do on your own. This adventure may take you far beyond into the sea where I can never go. I've learned that in our adventures so far."

Mark nodded and kept silent. Elizabeth was right. But he wanted to reassure her. He took her hands and placed them on his chest over his heart. "Elizabeth, no matter where I go or how long it takes, I will come back to you. I promise."

"I believe you. Come on, let's get you back home."

Elizabeth's eyes glistened as she remembered the first time he left…only to return ten minutes later – a tall and handsome, supple figure rising from the waves and bounding with curiosity for the world. He desired her friendship then, and now her love. She knew that the day he returned to her she would be waiting along the same shores, with the same salty tears, and that their reunion would be the beginning of their forever.

The End.

(A.N: I decided that Mark's discovery of his origins would be better contained in a sequel to this story, when I can recoup my ideas and create new adventures. Real life beckons so I currently can't devote as much time to writing. With time permitting, I will write a sequel in the future. But for now, I hope that I left you with a satisfying conclusion for Mark and Elizabeth. :)