A/N: This chapter... wasn't even what I expected. But I like it. It leaves room for a future. Enjoy~
In the past two days, I realized how I'd been treating Haru. I wanted to give up on him, on everyone, but he wouldn't give up on me. It made me wonder, did he not see that our friendship was a lie? Or was he simply looking past that? Whatever the case may have been, he was determined. Maybe I should've been appreciative of this, but I hated it. As Haru and I swam through the oceans of his world, I didn't feel out of place. I always knew that he was my source of stability. If he was there, then I was okay. But it was that exact feeling that I wasn't okay with! I hated the energy he poured into me and the comfort I felt with him. He made it that much harder to push him away. Was that even the right thing to do?
As I contemplated on what my next move should be, Haru and I began to see an obscure figure as we swam on. Steadily, it approached us, becoming larger, darker, clearer… Frantic, I turned around, looking for somewhere to hide until the unknown figure passed. I was reminded of his words about "sharks and other sea dwellers". Just as I started to veer left, another voice rang in my head, but it wasn't Haru's.
There is no need to run, human.
Who was that? I answered the foreign, dark-pitched voice in a panic. Afraid, I swam back to Haru and hid behind him, my arms wrapped around his torso. My body was shivering down to the softest tips of my tailfin.
Do not worry. I am merely what you would consider to be a whale. I do not know what brings you here, but I hope your journey through the seas is a safe one. My words of advice to you: Know your reason for being here. If you do not have purpose, then what can be done? Think for yourself, want for yourself, and then you will discover what you are searching for. Good luck, human.
I supposed that was the lavender whale's goodbye. He went his own way, gliding through the sea at his elderly pace. Maybe he was a senile fish. Who knows hold old he could've been, or how old the life forms here were able to age to. As Haru and I floated in place while the massive whale passed us by, I revisited one little detail. The whale was immediately able to tell that I was human. That meant the other fish would instantly notice as well, so I wondered how they would react to me. Just the thought of it made me uneasy. Before I had the chance to feel my stomach churning, Haru began to swim as fast as a missile, dragging me by the arm with him.
YUKI! WE'RE HERE!
Haru's home was beautiful. It was like a city in the water. There were large stalks of seaweed that served as canopies over the area. Rays of light shone between the tangle that tinted the ocean from blue to a radiant sea green. So many different forms of plant life painted the entire land as a garden in the sea. The area was similar to a forest. There weren't any buildings, but there were divisions for respective things, such as homes, schools, or places for fish to congregate as a whole. I could feel the vitality here.
Over the next three days, Haru was bubbling with joy to a point where he was almost unbearable. He had something planned for each day, the first being to introduce me to everyone. I met a school of guppies who raced towards me the moment they saw me. Even they immediately knew I was human, as young as they were. I thought Haru's hugs and kisses were bad, but these children played with my tail, bit my hair, latched themselves onto my arms, and consistently kissed my face. Also, I met his friends and older fish that cared after him, all of whom resembled earthly fish but had attributes that made them distinct. Haru couldn't resist the temptation to introduce me to a shark as well. Words couldn't explain the extent of my fear, but he was surprisingly nice. He even offered to let me touch his teeth. I had officially visited another planet, morphed into a mermaid, met a "blue" whale that was lavender, and touched a shark's teeth. Today was interesting.
On the second day, Haru showed me the daily routine of life on his planet. The second the sun illuminated the ocean, we had to go to school. However, it wasn't boring. We learned practical things like how to find food, avoid being eaten, camouflage ourselves, and how to survive in the event that we get lost and find ourselves in another region of the sea. Everything was going well until I accidentally inked during class. Then, things got worse. A nymph tried to kill me when she realized I was human. After I escaped with Haru's help, we had to take the guppies out to the open sea so they could eat. We came across a jellyfish-like creature and had to hide in a crevice until it passed. Later that night, all the fish gathered in the center of the city to listen to stories told by the elderly mermaids. Then, we retreated to our homes and rested.
On the third and final day, Haru took me to meet his grandmother, whom Coco and he lived with. She was a nymph by the name of Talia, just as beautiful as the ones I'd seen in my Greek mythology texts. Apparently, her sisters were the sirens that serenaded sailors to their deaths, but that was an activity she never partook in. Instead, Talia spent her time burying the sailors that her sisters brought here every summer. Her home was made of moss and wood from sunken ships. When we became acquainted with one another, she welcomed me with open arms as if I was one of her own. I reminded her of life, she said, because she had seen so much death.
We sat on the rocks of Talia's residence and talked for a while. She was centuries old with unparalleled wisdom. I couldn't believe I was talking to someone who had seen the worlds evolve. More than that, what I appreciated the most was how perceptive she was. Talia often said things that I connected with. That night, Haru and I had to return to Earth. Her last words to me were this:
Yuki, out of all the humans I have met in this life, I have to say that you have pleased me the most. I can see that you have grown, and you still have much more growth in you. Just imagine the beauty of your soul when you've come of age. I will be watching you, for I would love to see the man you become. If you ever travel to the oceans of Greece in the summer months, I'll see to it that my sisters bring you here if you would like to visit us again. You are always welcome in this family.
With that, Haru and I left for home. Despite all that I'd learned on our adventure, when I met his grandmother, I finally understood. All this time, I lied to Haru to keep him around, but he had no intention of leaving. Haru was my family. And as our journey ended, I knew I could open up to him now.