ONE: The Merman Saves a Rebel
Shit, how did everything end up like this? The yells and cries of men fighting each other could be heard on the cliff above. The fighting was moving, however, down along a path to the beach beneath the cliff. The clang of metal, the smell of blood, the dancing glow of fire reflected on the dark ocean, Saruhiko would've enjoyed it if it wasn't for the fact that he was holding an injured boy in his arms.
"Tsk," he clicked his tongue as he pulled the boy with him behind a rock, further away from all the fighting. On normal occasions, he would be watching the battle from a safe distance in the water. He liked things like these-fighting and proving one's superiority. He would love to join them if it wasn't for the problem that he didn't have legs.
The boy in his arms shivered and brought Saruhiko's thoughts back to reality. Saruhiko was used to the water's temperature since he lived in the ocean, miles and miles away in the underwater kingdom. In fact, up here the water was warmer. With fires burning by the edge of the water, the ocean was heated up even further.
Still, he can't compare himself with a human. The boy shivered again and Saruhiko hugged him close. He knew that he couldn't leave the boy in the ocean for much longer. But those who were fighting were now on the beach and Saruhiko couldn't leave the boy to be trampled on the sand.
Saruhiko narrowed his eyes. He would have to swim to the other side of the peninsula. It should be safe there, he doubted that the fighting would move all the way over there. With that in mind, he started dragging the boy through the water. The boy was light, but the added water in his clothes and hair made him difficult to pull through the water.
"...Misaki," Saruhiko grumbled, "I'm not going to let you die."
The story begins from a few years back.
Once upon a time, there were citizens unhappy with their country. People began to whisper about the start of a revolution. The selfish king who did not care about his people only scoffed at them and refused to deal with the problem at hand.
Once upon a time, a king who ruled a seaside country was forced to step down and flee for his life. The war won, the leaders of the revolution began to reestablish the country. However, the two leaders of the revolution fell into disagreement and the country was once again split, this time in a civil war. The result was two factions that warred with each other for many years. Occasionally, they would come to a peace agreement, but those lasted at most ten years before it fell apart. They became recognized as two separate countries by the names of Homra and Scepter4.
Once upon a time, a boy walked a little too far from his mother and fell into the ocean.
The little boy screamed and yelled for his mother, but his mother was too far away. She had taken her son out for a picnic with friends and left their children to play with each other. They were playing a game of hide and seek when her son wandered too close to the cliffs and fell into the river, swept right into the ocean.
"Help!" he yelled between mouthfuls of water as he tried to fight the current. He flung his arms out to grab hold of something, anything! But he was too small, anything he managed to cling to, he was pushed away from in seconds.
It was only after he reached the ocean and was pushed under the surface of the water that he heard giggling. His head bobbed back above the water and the sound was gone. He was beginning to panic now. He was no longer pulled by the current, but he was scared- his feet didn't touch the ground!
"Help!" he yelled and he was underwater again. The water stung his eyes and he heard the giggling again. He struggled to get back to the surface, but he never learned to swim and the harder he tried to break the water surface, the more the water seemed to pull him back down.
"You look like you could use some help," as soon as he heard that, he felt two arms wrap around his waist and pull him to the ocean surface.
They broke the surface and he spent a couple of minutes spiting and sputtering sea water before the burning in his nose and the back of his throat became tolerable. The person who saved him was still holding him by the waist and they were slowly drifting towards the shore. He twisted backwards to try to get a glance at who had saved him.
It was another boy, one with dark hair and blue eyes. It reminded him of Scepter4 citizens. But he couldn't be, because this was Homra land and there was no reason for someone loyal to Scepter4 to save a child from Homra.
"Who are you?" he asked. The other boy looked at him, but didn't answer. They were getting closer to land and he could feel the tips of his toes touch the sand, "My name's Misaki Yata. Thanks for saving me."
The boy didn't answer right away, but when he opened his mouth, he asked, "Isn't Misaki a girl's name?"
"What was that?" Misaki yelled as he struggled in the other boy's grip, flailing about to try to hit him, preferably in the face. "I-It's a perfectly manly name!" his face heated up despite being in the cold ocean as he hung limply in defeat. This boy's grip was strong.
"I'm Saruhiko," the boy finally introduced himself. They were nearly at the shore now and Misaki could walk by himself. Oddly, Saruhiko continued to swim around him. "I can't really go much further than this," he said as he swam behind Misaki.
"Why not? You're not one of Scepter4, right? You're swimming freely here, you must be Homra, right?"
Saruhiko looked at him with a blank face, "Scepter4? Homra? What's that?"
"You don't know?" Misaki nearly screamed. With a grin, he unbuttoned the first few buttons of his dress shirt and pulled down the left side. There, tattooed on his chest right above his heart was a flame symbol, "Homra, it's the country I belong to!"
"Is...that so?" Saruhiko still sounded confused.
"You're not from around here, are you? If you don't know what Homra and Scepter4 are," Misaki asked as he rebuttoned his shirt and to walk to the shore. Saruhiko stayed where he was, "You're really not coming?"
"I can't," Saruhiko answered, there was hesitance written on his face, "...I'm not really supposed to be here."
"Why not?" Misaki asked again. As if to confirm, he also asked again, "You're not one of Scepter4, right?"
Saruhiko shook his head, "No, I'm not. But I'm not Homra either."
"That's fine," Misaki said with a grin, "We're not on bad terms with anyone aside from Scepter4! So if you're Silver or Gold or whatever other color, it'll be fine!"
"You're not from any of those countries either? Geez, you must be from really far away... Ikebukuro, maybe?"
"The place I'm from is called-" Saruhiko made a sound that Misaki couldn't decipher.
"What?" Misaki asked and Saruhiko repeated it for him, but it was the same. He couldn't tell what he just said. It was a jumble of sounds and even when Misaki tried to mimic them, he found that he couldn't. "I've never heard of such a place."
Saruhiko shrugged. He couldn't tell Misaki any more than this.
"Hey, I'm sure you can come and play with me and my friends! As long as you're not one of those Scepter4 freaks, I'm sure no one would mind!"
Again, Saruhiko shook his head, "I can't. I have to go anyways."
Misaki frowned. He was still at the age where he could get whatever he wanted just by asking a few times. Being told no, he threatened to cry and throw a tantrum.
"How about I come back tomorrow and we can play here again?" Saruhiko suggested before Misaki could begin crying.
"Yes, that would be perfect!" with a smile and a wave, Misaki turned around and ran to the shore. Halfway there, he heard a splash and when he turned around, Saruhiko was gone. For a split second, he thought he saw a fish tail disappearing into the ocean.
He waited to see if Saruhiko would come up for air, but he wasn't there anymore and Misaki guessed that he had swam far away. It didn't matter, he would see his new friend again the next day.
Saruhiko didn't understand the powers the people who lived by the edge of the ocean had. Some of them burned bright red and others held out a flash of blue. Those things didn't exist in his home. He was starting to understand the history of the land dwellers, though. It wasn't a subject that was taught extensively in school, but the sort of knowledge you had to gain by digging through the restricted section of the library.
Still, there was very little information about the land above them.
Saruhiko had finally made his way to the other side of the peninsula and pulled both him and Misaki onto the shore. It was no easy task, he didn't have feet to support him. For a while, Misaki laid still on the ground, but after a few minutes, he coughed and sputtered until he was wide awake again.
"What happened?" he gasped before turning to look to the person sitting to his side, "...Who's there?"
Before Saruhiko could answer, Misaki had drifted off to sleep again.
He was bleeding from several scrapes across his arms and shoulders, but he was going to live.
"Tsk," Saruhiko clicked his tongue as he leaned closer to Misaki and brushed wet hair out of the boy's face, "How many times am I going to have to save you before you learn better, Mi-sa-ki?"
The sounds of fighting were fading away. The outcome of the battle was about to be decided, but it didn't matter to Saruhiko. All that mattered to him was that the boy lying on the sand with him was still alive. He wished that they could stay this way forever. Here, it was so innocent and untainted like they were when they were children.
There were many problems, but one of them remained evident from the first time they met. Without a doubt, Misaki had long since forgot about the day Saruhiko first saved him. They only met once or twice afterwards and it was not enough for Misaki to notice. Saruhiko never left the ocean. He wasn't even supposed to be above the surface of the water. However, he broke the rules so he could catch a glimpse of Misaki.
Misaki would have never guessed that Saruhiko was a merman. Heck, Misaki probably never even fathomed that there would be an entire underwater kingdom next to their country. If there was one thing he learned from his studies about humans was that they were selfish and close-minded. All they cared about was fighting and winning and bragging.
So that day, Saruhiko thought he saw something different in Misaki. And he thought that maybe Misaki was an exception. That Misaki was innocent and completely untainted by the rest of humanity. Saruhiko thought he had it all figured out. He thought that Misaki would keep promises. But he was wrong. And by the time he realized that, it was already too late. Misaki had already become someone far more important to him.
"Yata-san! Where are you, Yata-san?" Rikio's voice resounded through the campgrounds as he searched for Homra's third in command.
"Shut up, Kamamoto-san," a boy who was sitting on the ground grumbled, "Some of us are trying to get some sleep after last night's battle. That Chihuahua's probably taking a dump somewhere."
"I haven't seen him since last night, Eric," Rikio explained, "I was hoping that someone has seen him before I bother Kusanagi-san about the numbers."
"I haven't seen him since last night either," Eric replied. He paused for a moment and scratched his head, "Um... I think he was fighting near Chitose, you should ask him."
"Ah, thanks, Eric!" Rikio grinned as he ran off to search for Chitose.
"That was nice of you," Kosuke, who had been sleeping next to Eric, mumbled.
"Hmph, well, we all have to look out for each other. Even if it's Chihuahua."
Kosuke nodded and ran his fingers through Eric's hair, "You should get some more rest then. You fought pretty violently last night."
"I did what I had to do to win the battle. It was better than disappearing like Chihuahua!"
Rikio found Chitose in his tent. He had a nasty gash across his back from fighting with Seri. The medics had just finished treating him and left him to rest. They tried to get Rikio to leave, but he insisted that it was an urgent matter. After a while of yelling and complaining, they finally let Rikio talk with Chitose.
"You're loud and scared the girls away," Chitose mumbled in disappointment from the make shift bed on the ground.
"Yo, Chitose, have you seen Yata-san?"
"No, I've been stuck here ever since I got back," he groaned in response.
"I meant last night. Eric said you were fighting with him nearby?"
Chitose thought for a moment. He remembered that he was hit by Seri before Misaki jumped in and started fighting with Seri in his stead. Scepter4's second in command of the army was extremely strong and probably even Misaki had trouble fighting her. "The last I saw of him was that he was fighting Seri while I was carried off. You might as well go ask Kusanagi-san since he does roll call."
When Rikio looked hesitant, he added, "You should just go now. Get it over with. You know he's only going to get madder if he finds out Yata-san's missing from someone other than his partner."
"R-Right, I'll go."
Izumo Kusanagi was sitting in the main tent of the campground. Their general, Mikoto Suoh, was taking a light nap in the back so he was left to do all the paper work and head count alone. He was annoyed, but there wasn't a point in trying to get Mikoto to do work. That man did what he wanted. It was a surprise that the Red King even got Mikoto to work as the head general for them. So when Kamamoto ran into the tent yelling about Misaki being missing, Izumo felt like he was ready to explode.
"Kusanagi-san! Has Yata-san reported in? No one's seen him since last night!"
"Kamamoto-san, stop yelling!" Izumo yelled and lifted the desk a few inches off the ground, threatening to flip it over.
"S-Sorry, Kusanagi-san... But really, I haven't seen Yata-san and I'm worried."
With a frown, Kusanagi began looking over the list of names, "If the vanguard decides to run away, I'll bring him back and pound him in the head."
"Chitose was the last to see him and said that he had been fighting with Seri! I'm a little worried."
"If Seri fought him seriously, yea, he'd be a goner," Kusanagi responded as he found Misaki's name on the list. They had brought back all the bodies from the battlefield and identified them so everyone should be accounted for- "Huh? You're right, he isn't marked down?"
Rikio paled and his mouth trembled, "S-So you mean he's..."
"No, we identified all the bodies found from last night's battle."
"There's no way Yata-san would desert us!" Rikio yelled, forgetting that Izumo had ordered him not to shout.
"...What's this about deserting?" Mikoto asked as he sat up from the bed in the back of the tent. He rubbed his eyes and looked directly at Rikio. Rikio froze, feeling as though he was a zebra being stared down by a lion. A good quarter of the Homra army had joined because Mikoto was the general, Rikio included. So, Rikio held a deep respect for him, but every now and then, he was reminded of why Mikoto was recruited as the general.
"Ah...ah," he was at a loss of words.
"The vanguard hasn't reported in and no one has seen him since last night on the battlefield."
"Yea," Izumo nodded, "It would be nice to remember the names of your comrades..."
"I remember all of their faces, isn't that good enough?"
"You're just being lazy, aren't you?"
"Hmm..." Mikoto stood up and walked out of the tent, "Well, let's go look for him."
Rikio looked at Izumo with a worried face and Izumo smiled, "If Mikoto doesn't think Yata deserted us, no one does."
Misaki woke up to the sight of someone staring down at him. The sun was high in the sky and created a backlight against the person staring at him so he couldn't see their face. "Wh...at?" he mumbled as he lifted his arm to reach out to the person, "Who's there?"
And all of a sudden, the person was gone.
There was the sound of a splash, but as soon as Misaki blinked, there was no one around.
"Yata, is that you?" Rikio's voice came from above. Sitting up with a groan, Misaki looked up to see a few of his comrades standing on the cliff above him.
"Ye...a..." his throat hurt and his voice was hoarse, but he didn't have any heavy injuries. As he stood up, the rest of them slid down the cliff to join him.
"Yata, how'd you get here?"
"Um, I...I don't know," Yata mumbled as he rubbed his temples. Looking beyond Rikio, he saw that Izumo and Mikoto was here as well and his heart soared. Any thoughts of who had saved him or how he got here was blown out of his head. "M-Mikoto-san! You're here as well?"
"Ah...Ah, sorry, for making you...and everyone else worried," although he was apologetic, it was quite evident that he was happy that their general was worried enough to come look for him.
"Hmm," Mikoto nodded again and turned to walk away. Misaki continued to smile with a goofy look on his face.
"Come on, let's go. I want to hear the full details of what happened last night-"
"I don't remember what happened last night."
"Fine, what you do remember," Izumo continued as he wrapped an arm around Misaki to pull him along, "But let's just hurry back so we can ask Anna to fix you up."
Saruhiko watched Misaki leave with his companions from behind a rock. He looked bitterly at Mikoto. He hated the way Misaki looked at him. Those were the same looks that Saruhiko wanted Misaki to look at him with. But it never happened with him. And it never will because they were too different to begin with.
With one last glance at the four comrades before jumping back into the ocean. If they're too different, then he'll just have to change himself to be the same as Misaki.
I wrote half of this on impulse while trying to figure out my physics hw. What even. :I Stupid plot bunnies.
I don't know what's up with me and fairy tales. I guess I've got a sudden urge to write fanfic retellings of them with my fav pairings :P
Anyways, this is the first time I wrote for the K fandom, I hope I didn't do too badly. I wasn't sure how a lot of them called each other, but I think most of them used last name? I wasn't going to add honorifics, but then having Misaki call Mikoto without -san felt too weird... I tried to use everyone's first names when outside of characters speaking, but Chitose's first name is "Yo"... and it felt really weird to refer to him as Yo.
Well, I hope you thought this first chapter was entertaining, thank you for reading! (: