FIVE: Third Time's the Charm
Saruhiko blinked away the tears that came along with the pain as his glasses flew off his face and landed a few feet away. Immediately following, he felt Misaki pull on the collar of his shirt, holding his fist out in front of him, threatening to punch again. He figured that Misaki would be violent, being a soldier, but he couldn't think of what he could've possibly done to upset the boy sitting on top of him. Heck, he just saved his life.
"Answer me!" Misaki yelled as he shook Saruhiko, narrowing his eyes. There was something familiar about him that he couldn't quite put his finger on. The obvious answer was that he's seen him on the battlefield, yet the setting that came to mind was watery...calm and happy. The exact opposite of an angry battlefield, "...Who are you?"
Both boys seemed to be stunned by those words.
Saruhiko's eyes widened in shock as he felt a deep pain in his chest. He knew that Misaki hadn't seen him in years, but Saruhiko was stunned by the fact that Misaki couldn't remember a single detail about him. Not a name, not a face, not anything? Saruhiko didn't want to believe it, but the proof was already there, Misaki didn't remember him.
Misaki, on the other hand, was stunned by the fact that his own words sounded gentle... There was a strange familiarity in this boy and he loosened his grip on Saruhiko's collar. Saruhiko took advantage of this fact and quickly pushed Misaki off and punched him hard before rolling to his feet in front of Misaki.
"Is that how you thank someone for saving your life?" he yelled as he picked up his glasses and turned to leave. If Misaki was going to claim to have amnesia, he wasn't sticking around any longer for it.
"Wait," Misaki mumbled as he stood up and wiped a tiny trickle of blood off the corner of his mouth. Damn, he didn't see the punch coming and he nearly bit his tongue off. Aside from that, Saruhiko punched hard, but he was unarmed. That was strange, Misaki thought all Scepter4 soldiers carried an arsenal of weapons when walking around. ...Perhaps he wasn't one after all?
"What do you-" Saruhiko froze when he felt Misaki take his hand.
"Thank you for saving me," Misaki said, looking directly into Saruhiko's eyes causing the taller boy's cheeks to turn slightly pink, "Now tell me why you're here! How did you even get here, so far into Homra territory?"
Crap, how was he going to answer this one?
"You have a Scepter4 military uniform on, but you're not a soldier. Who are you?" Misaki asked again, this time more demanding.
"...Tsk, if you can't find the answer inside that tiny brain of yours, I'm not going to bother answering," Saruhiko said as he pushed wet hair out of his eyes. The forest canopy shielded them from rain when the storm started, but now it was coming down in waves, soaking his entire uniform.
Anger and frustration flashed in Misaki's eyes, "Fine, then I'm placing you under arrest for trespassing-"
"You and what army?" Saruhiko rolled his eyes, "You can't even swim! Are all Homra soldiers this pathetic?"
The last statement made something in Misaki snap, "...You piece of shit Blue!" he yelled as he lunged forward, kicking Saruhiko in the back of his knee, making him lose balance. Misaki immediately pushed him to the ground, pinning his arms behind his back.
"Mmff-" Saruhiko's voice was muffled by the mud.
"I dare you to say that again! I won't let you say bad things about Homra-" a sudden kick in the stomach knocked the air out of him as he was thrown off of Saruhiko. He rolled to a stand a couple feet away, confused. He had pinned Saruhiko down, how had he done that? Somehow, Saruhiko had managed to lift his feet up and kick Misaki...? The only thing Misaki could think of was that the motion reminded him of a fish. His legs had twisted backwards as if it was a tail, but kicked with the strength of human bones.
That definitely wasn't military training, he had never seen someone fight that way on the battlefield.
A few feet away, Saruhiko had taken his glasses off and squinted at them, "...You broke them, Misaki." He glared over at the other boy, "Are you satisfied yet?"
"...How did you know my name?" Misaki took an uncertain step forward, "We've...met before?" The eye color, the facial structure, there was something familiar about them and the pouring rain making Saruhiko's hair stick wet to his skin- that was a familiar image, too.
The two of them were standing only inches apart now. They were close enough that if someone else saw them, they'd look like they were old friends having a conversation instead of enemies who were just fighting with each other. Neither of them made a sound, only the pelting of rain and rushing of the river echoed in the otherwise silent forest. The silence made Misaki afraid to talk, to make a sound. Did he know this boy wearing a Scepter4 uniform? And why did he care? All Scepter4 citizens are enemies! Still, there was a strange magic that made him want to keep silent.
After what felt like an eternity, Misaki finally opened his mouth to say something, "Your name-"
A sudden clap of thunder made both of them jump and Misaki suddenly remembered that they were standing in the middle of a storm. "Actually, we shouldn't stay here- Huh?!"
Saruhiko suddenly pulled Misaki forward and kissed him on the forehead, "My name is Saruhiko." He took a few steps back and disappeared into thin air.
For a good fifteen minutes, Misaki stood there with wide eyes and mouth open, "...What?" He just got kissed by the enemy and then the enemy just disappeared? Hell, he would've thought that he imagined the whole thing if it wasn't for the fact that his body still hurt from where Saruhiko had punched and kicked him.
"Saru...hiko?" Misaki repeated to himself with a sigh. He needed to get out of this rain, take a shower, then try to figure out why that name sounded so familiar.
"I didn't give you permission to use the magic mirror," Saruhiko heard Reisi's disapproving tone the moment he stepped out of the glass. The path that connected between the mirror and the river in Homra territory was a dark one filled with the light of stars. Saruhiko wasn't sure how it worked, but it had gotten him where he wanted to so he didn't care much about the mechanics.
Saruhiko shrugged, "It's not like you said I couldn't use it."
"Try not to overuse it, it's not a toy. Where did you go anyways? You're soaking wet."
Finding no reason to lie, he answered, "Homra territory to see an old friend."
Reisi raised an eyebrow, "In uniform?"
"You didn't tell me this was the military uniform!"
"Next time you'll know not to wear it. They don't like us very much over there," Reisi said, letting out a sarcastic chuckle. Then, he snapped his fingers and the image on the mirror changed to reflect one of the waiting rooms in the Scepter4 palace, "By the way, someone's here to see you."
"Black Dog?" Saruhiko exclaimed in surprise as his somewhat-half-brother showed up in the mirror's reflection. The young man was leaning back against a couch with his eyes closed and arms folded. To anyone else, he looked like he was asleep, but Saruhiko recognized this position. Kuroh Yatagami was fully awake and attentive. In fact, his patience appeared to be driving thin. Beside the couch, Seri stood guarding the door.
"Kuroh Yatagami? Is that what you call him nowadays?" Reisi asked with furrowed eyebrows, "I mean, I've heard them use that nickname once or twice back then... Anyways, he's been waiting all morning. I think he's tired of the silence game with Seri."
"You didn't greet him yourself?"
Reisi shook his head, "It'd be a bad idea for him to see me right now. Please don't mention me either when you talk with him."
"What if he asks-"
"Just say that a soldier found you," Reisi said as he exited the room.
"Tsk," Saruhiko clicked his tongue in annoyance as he made his way to the waiting room Kuroh was staying in. Seri turned to leave the room, but not giving the two boys a suspicious look before doing so.
Having heard Saruhiko enter, Kuroh opened his eyes and sat up straight on the couch. Saruhiko sat in the armchair across from him. "You're soaking wet, shouldn't you go change?" Kuroh asked with a frown.
"I'm soaked all the time underwater. I don't care if my skin gets wrinkly."
"No, that isn't the problem! Humans differ from mermen more than just a tail and a leg. You'll get sick."
"It's not your problem."
"Ichigen-sama would disapprove."
"What do I care if-" Saruhiko stopped himself when he caught Kuroh's glare, "...Tsk. I'll be right back." Saruhiko quickly got up and left the room in search of a towel and a change of clothes.
Left alone in the room, Kuroh pulled his recorder out of the pocket of his pants and clicked play, "Judge only after you've listened." With a sigh, he pocketed the device again. Apparently, there was nothing like this on land and he had worried about whether or not it would function out of the water, but it worked fine. He had to "recharge" it by leaving it in the water once in a while though. Kuroh was wary of using it in public as much as he loved hearing his master's voice. The first time he did, people crowded around him asking what it was, some suggesting that it was witchcraft. He had been lucky that the Gold King managed to calm everyone down before the incident escalated.
However, back to the problem with Saruhiko. Kuroh sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose, he will always do as Ichigen tells him, but his patience is wearing thin. What in the world was Saruhiko doing out of the water? And on top of that, how? No one else could cast magic now that Ichigen was dead.
A sudden jolt of realization came to him, did they find the Prince? He has to ask Saruhiko! He was tempted to follow the older boy out of the room before he remembered Ichigen's words once more. Right, he should listen to Saruhiko before jumping to conclusions. So once again sitting down on the sofa, he waited for the other to return.
Ten minutes later, Saruhiko returned to his seat in a new set of clothes, a plain shirt and blue trousers. Kuroh noticed that the people in this palace really liked blue. He supposed it had to with the fact that this was called the Blue Clan, but he was sure that the Gold Clan didn't have half as many gold items as the Blue Clan had blue items.
"So what is it?" Saruhiko asked.
"Trust me, there are a lot of things I want to yell at you about," Kuroh narrowed his eyes, "But I'll hear your reasons for being here first."
"Like you're allowed to talk," Saruhiko scoffed, "You've been missing for four years."
"Why are you here?"
Saruhiko looked away, not wanting to answer, "... ... ... I wanted to see someone."
"It's obviously not me, right?"
"I can't think of anyone else you could want to see on land. In fact, you couldn't have known I was here. So who were you looking for? A human?"
"...Yes, a Homra soldier," Saruhiko finally admitted after the two of them were silent for a while.
Kuroh frowned, "...But, you're in Scepter4 territory."
"I didn't want to be here!" Saruhiko protested, "I didn't know a thing about what was going on up here and when I woke up I couldn't see anything or even walk. It took three days to learn how to do so."
"If you didn't know anything about politics on land, why did you come?" Kuroh grumbled, unable to keep his patience for much longer, "...Wait, you said you couldn't see anything?"
"Yes, a side effect of the magic or something-" he paused, looking at Kuroh with surprise in his eyes, "You're not wearing any glasses."
Kuroh shook his head, "Maybe it's a difference in who cast the magic? Ichigen-sama never told me that my vision would be affected and it wasn't affected. I could see perfectly fine when I got out of the water. I also knew how to walk nearly instantly, like he had let me know instinctively through the magic."
"What a difference in the quality of magic," Saruhiko mumbled bitterly as he clicked his tongue.
"Who transformed you anyways?"
"The one that lives in the dead coral cave."
Kuroh's eyes widened, "I thought that was just a rumor!"
"Well, it's not."
"But..." Kuroh's expression turned into a worried one, "Did you trade something in for it?"
Saruhiko shook his head, "He said he'll do it for free."
"That's not how the story usually goes," Kuroh commented and Saruhiko shrugged. It already happened, he didn't particularly care about why or how. "Wait, why were you looking for a Homra soldier to begin with?"
Saruhiko fell silent.
"Did you meet them before?"
"Oh no, did the human steal something from you? They can't know the existence of Atlantis! ...Actually, does the people of Scepter4 know?" Kuroh couldn't even consider the fact that anything related to Saruhiko had to do with love.
"Ah, not really. Only that one...er, soldier who found me on the beach knows. But it seemed like he knew from the start."
"Meaning he was one of us?"
"I haven't asked, it's possible."
Kuroh nodded, thinking carefully, "Can I meet him?"
Saruhiko hesitated, "... I don't know, you'll have to ask him." He quickly added, "I'll put in a word for you."
"Okay," Kuroh said, letting the matter drop, "About this human..." It was very clear that Saruhiko didn't want to talk about this, but Kuroh was going to get to the bottom of this matter, "Does he know about Atlantis."
"How did you meet him?"
"I saved him from drowning."
"...Because he was going to die?"
"When did you first meet him?"
"A couple years ago," Saruhiko was beginning to feel like he was being questioned about his first boyfriend and Kuroh was his mother.
"How many times have you met up?"
"I don't understand. The Saruhiko I know wouldn't bother saving just anyone."
"Well..." Saruhiko's voice trailed off. He didn't really have the heart to explain...
"And he's a stranger too."
This was getting highly uncomfortable and Saruhiko wished he had an excuse to leave the room.
"I think I'll ask Ichigen-sama," Kuroh said as he glanced at the door to make sure no one was peeking in. He wouldn't know if someone was to burst in, but it didn't hurt to take a look in caution.
"Wait, what-? He's dead-"
Kuroh pulled out the recorder and pressed the play button, "Love comes in many forms."
There was a thick silence in the room for the next five minutes before both boys spoke at the same time.
"You're in love with a human?!"
"You carry around a voice recording of your dead foster father?!"
There was an uncomfortable silence in the room again.
Kuroh cleared his throat, "Ichigen-sama's wisdom is gold. So of course I have to keep a voice recording of as many of his sayings as possible." That topic was clearly closed for discussion, "You're in love with a human?!"
"I wouldn't call it love-"
"That's ridiculous! You know it's not possible for a merman to love a human! ...Of course, maybe it is now that you are a human, but that's beside the point! Humans are vile and dangerous creatures and if they discover our existence, it'll be the end of Atlantis. And if you're going to have a human as a lover, you'll undoubtly have to let them know about your past at some point!" Kuroh paused for a breath, "And why a soldier?!"
"I didn't know he was going to be a-"
"And one from Homra! What are you thinking? They're a violent bunch of rebels who only care for those of their own clan!"
"Well..." Saruhiko couldn't disagree with that. Misaki is violent and he does care a lot for his clan.
Kuroh sighed, his anger having dissipated after yelling at Saruhiko, "I don't know how to deal with this, Ichigen-sama-" he reached into his pocket again and was about to pull out the recorder when Saruhiko spoke up.
"Forget it, I'll sort out my problems on my own," he said quickly, hoping he didn't have to relive the creepiness of Kuroh taking advice through a recorder of their dead foster father. "What about you?" he asked, "Why are you here?"
"Ichigen-sama sent me. He told me to look for the Silver King."
Kuroh nodded, "Like the Red King, Blue King, and Gold King. Except he's been hiding for a really long time. Not even the people of the Silver Clan knows where he's gone."
"Ichigen-sama didn't tell me the details. He said that I needed to hurry to prevent a certain tragedy."
The conversation didn't amount to much after that and after another half an hour of idle chatting, Kuroh said he had to return to Usagi. The moment the two boys got up from their seats, the door to the room opened and Seri appeared. She was ordered to see Kuroh out to make sure there was no trouble.
Saruhiko was about to follow them out when he noticed Reisi had been standing behind a nearby pillar, "Are you hiding?" he asked the Scepter4 general.
"Huh?" he seemed startled.
"Why won't you let Kuroh see you?"
"...Complicated story," Reisi said, tilting his glasses and turning to walk away.
"Why? You were once a merman, too, weren't you?"
Reisi nodded slowly, "Yes..."
"Did the witch change you too? You have eyesight problems as well."
"No," he answered as they came to a stop in front of Saruhiko's room, "It was...done on impulse so it wasn't very proper. As a result, the magic wasn't as complete as King Ichigen's."
Saruhiko didn't quite understand, he didn't wield any magic so he didn't understand how it worked.
"Also, King Habari wants to talk with you tonight about joining the Scepter4 army."
Reisi frowned, "Just because he's the King and I'm the Prince doesn't make us father and son."
"Does he know about..."
"You being a merman? Yes and considering he's dealt with me before, he understands. He'll let you stay if you join us."
Saruhiko hesitated. If he joined, what would Misaki think? He'd be lying to Misaki. Misaki will hate him. However, if he refused and they kick him out of the palace, Saruhiko would be penniless. He wouldn't be able to find a way to Homra, to Misaki. There was no magic mirror that could teleport him to Misaki. Hell, he'd be lucky if manages to make it out alive in Scepter4. He could ask Kuroh for help, but he'd need the people at the palace to make those kinds of arrangements. It was clear they won't help him if he declined the offer to join the army.
Misaki will hate me, those words rang in his head as he let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. Misaki will hate me, he repeated to himself, but I can't stand to lose him when I'm finally here. "I'll join. I'll let him know that tonight," he answered.
"Good," Reisi smiled, not knowing about the thoughts that had just ran through Saruhiko's mind, "I'll ask someone to let you know when it's dinnertime." He turned and walked down the long corridor, disappearing from view.
Misaki will hate me, but what he doesn't know won't hurt him.
"Misaki, you're soaking wet!" his mother exclaimed when he walked through the front door.
"Sorry," he mumbled as his mother went to the bathroom and returned with a towel to dry his hair. When he returned to the store, he apologized for being late, but the owner had already unloaded and moved everything inside because of the coming storm.
"You don't have to come back tomorrow," the owner had said. They found him unreliable on the first day and he was getting fired. This would make finding a stable job harder now.
"What are you apologizing for?" his mother asked as she ushered her son into the bathroom, "Go take a shower. I'll start preparing dinner soon!"
"Right, thanks, Mother," he felt like he was in a daze. The entire time he was in the shower he just kept replaying the past hour's events in his head.
His pre-determined notion of the people of Scepter4 was fading, being overlapped by the image of Saruhiko. Scepter4 are a bunch of assholes who only care about their own form of justice, one that they'll force upon everyone. That was the ideal that he was taught back when he was still in training. They were taught that the enemy were evil and terrible things will happen if they lose this war. And Misaki believed that. He ate up every single word because it only reinforced what he knew when he was a child. Scepter4 is evil, they killed father and big brother. His second oldest brother told him that.
A Scepter4 uniform, he saved Misaki from drowning. What Blue would do that? Even if he didn't know that Misaki was a soldier, he had saved what was clearly a Homra citizen. They're not that heartless, he realized. On top of that, Saruhiko had kissed him. Kissed him! Sure it was on the forehead, but what Scepter4 soldier would kiss a Homra soldier?! The idea sounded... impossible.
"Shiiiiit!" Misaki yelled as he was tempted to smash his head into the tiled walls. Instead, he crouched down and tried to hide in the water, making himself as small as possible. Why did he kiss me? This is embarrassing!
"Misaki, are you alright?" his mother called from outside.
"I'm alright, Mom," he yelled back as he stood up from the tub again. "Shit," he repeated in a mumble as his cheeks turned red.
He realized something, he didn't dislike the kiss.
"Where are you going?" Reisi's voice floated in from the doorway.
"Visiting someone," Saruhiko answered as he finished buttoning his shirt and rolling up his sleeves. This time he was dressed in a white shirt and dark dress pants, not making the same mistake of showing up in uniform again.
"The one in Homra?"
"Fine, don't take the whole day," Reisi said and left.
Saruhiko was actually surprised that Reisi allowed him to use the mirror so easily. He assumed it had something to do with the 'favorite' thing some of the servants in the palace were talking about. Either way, he didn't question it. It was better to use it to his advantage.
"Take me to Misaki," he said and a ripple passed through the mirror. It unraveled itself into strands of silvery liquid that reached out and grabbed hold of Saruhiko, pulling him into the glass. As soon as the last piece of Saruhiko had disappeared into its glassy surface, it stopped, seemingly a normal mirror again.
Inside the mirror, Saruhiko found himself in a foggy white space this time. "So it changes every time? Tsk," he clicked his tongue in annoyance as he found the fog separating itself into what appeared to be an endless passage. He followed it down and before long, he felt the heat of the sun on his skin.
He heard a soft thud and an once bitten apple rolled to his feet.
"Where did you come from?" Misaki's voice was filled with bewilderment.
They were standing on a grassy field with some trees in the distance surrounding them. Behind Misaki was a wooden cabin and next to him was a basket full of apples.
"Misaki!" Saruhiko wasted no time tackling the shorter boy in a hug.
"Uwaahhh...!" Misaki lost his footing. He had been surprised enough by Saruhiko's sudden appearance and there was no way he could've anticipated the hug. In his attempt to regain his balance, he accidentally kicked the basket of apples upward, "Shit!" he yelled as the apples were tossed into the sky and began raining down on the two.
"Ouch!" Saruhiko hissed as he raised himself off Misaki and picked up one of the apples which hit him on the head, "What are these?" They certainly didn't exist underwater. Misaki had been eating them, right? Curious, he brought one to his lips.
"Apples!" Misaki yelled as he snatched the apple out of Saruhiko's hand pushed the other boy off. "Haven't you seen one before? Either way, you can't eat this, it's merchandise!"
"But you were just eating one Misaki-" hr dodged to the side as an apple came flying at his head.
"Shut up! And don't call me Misaki!" he continued gathering the apples and tossing them into the basket all the while mumbling about how they better not be bruised and how annoying it'd be if Saruhiko cost him another job.
"Of course, Mi-Sa-Ki," Saruhiko couldn't help taunting.
"Fucking monkey!" Misaki yelled as he threw another apple, this one Saruhiko caught and took a bite before Misaki could snatch it back. Hmm, it's tasty, very different taste from the fish and seaweed he always ate.
"Why are you here? Actually, how did you even get here? This time and last, you just appeared out of thin air!" Misaki questioned as he did his best to avoid looking at Saruhiko in the eye. He was feeling rather conflicted. He should be punching him, kicking him, pinning him down and arresting him, but Misaki couldn't bring himself to do so. Maybe it was the fact that Saruhiko was nothing like the Scepter4 soldiers he heard about and especially in those clothes, Saruhiko could pass for a Homra citizen.
Most of all, however, it was the butterflies in his stomach stopping him. The memories of Saruhiko saving him, the feelings when they talked, and when he kissed him. It may have been on the forehead, but that was the first time anyone other than his mother had kissed him. It was odd, strange, out of place, weird, good. Misaki felt his cheeks warm and he quickly turned around and pretended to look for the remaining imaginary apples on the ground, "Well, you gonna answer me?"
"You won't believe me," Saruhiko watched Misaki curiously. The redhead was acting so different from last time. Was it really the uniform? He wondered if he could go further, like kiss him on the lips. With mild amusement, he noticed that Misaki's ears were red.
"I can't say I've experienced a lot of impossible things, but I want to know," he gave up looking for imaginary apples and pushed the basket to the side.
"I came through a mirror."
"What?!" Misaki exclaimed as he turned around in shock. Everything he had been thinking of in the past few minutes disappeared as he looked at Saruhiko in shock, "Are you making fun of me?"
Saruhiko sighed, "If you aren't smart enough to tell the difference, there's no point in me explaining further."
"You fucking Monkey!"
The two of them squabbled for a little while, but thankfully didn't start fighting like last time. A good hour must've passed when Misaki remembered he still had a job to complete. "Aw man, I still gotta fill another five baskets. It shouldn't take too long. Wait here for me," Misaki said before turning to walk towards the apple trees in the distance.
Left alone, Saruhiko reflected on the other's words. He couldn't help but feel a sort of giddiness rise up in him. Misaki was paying attention to him! Misaki knows who he is! Misaki wants him around. He was still filled with happiness when he noticed his arm had turned transparent.
His eyes narrowed in annoyance, it was time already? He looked at the trees, but Misaki was nowhere in sight and it was clear that it would take time to find the Homra soldier. Stupid mirror, he thought bitterly and hoped that Misaki won't mind the fact that he had to leave without saying good bye. If he stayed for much longer, the path would close up.
With a disappointed look at the trees where Misaki had disappeared into, he turned to walk into a gap in the air visible to probably only him, Reisi, and Kuroh. Entering the gap, he was again greeted by the foggy whiteness and he followed a path before showing up in the Scepter4 palace.
"You have some nerve showing up again after you ditched me last time," Misaki grumbled poured a bucket of...things Saruhiko couldn't identify into a pig pen. The whole place stank.
When Saruhiko had shown up earlier, Misaki had been in the barn milking the cows and nearly kicked the bucket over when Saruhiko showed up behind him and blew on the nape of his neck.
"I had urgent business."
"Still rude," Misaki grumbled as he leaned forward so that his face was centimeters away from Saruhiko's. Saruhiko thought his heart stopped for a second.
"Don't apologize if you don't fucking mean it, Monkey!"
Saruhiko rolled his eyes, why did he like Misaki again? "I'll make it up to you."
Saruhiko shrugged, "I can...teach you how to swim." Misaki tried to deck him and Saruhiko moved away just in time.
"Did you come here just to make fun of me?"
"Of course not," Saruhiko immediately said and pulled Misaki to stand in front of him, looking straight into the shorter boy's eyes, "Tell me, Misaki, do you remember anything about me?"
Misaki furrowed his eyebrows, the unsettling feeling of butterflies returning to his stomach. He had nearly forgotten about this feeling of awkward nostalgia, about the nervous cheek-warming thought of the kiss. But, that's right, Saruhiko is a part of Scepter4 and those words reminded Misaki of the fact."No," it was straight out denial, "I don't have memories of anyone who's a part of Scepter4."
"I told you not to call me that!" Misaki turned to walk away, but before he even took a step, hr found himself thrown to the ground with Saruhiko staring down at him, hands pinning his shoulders down, "What are you doing, Monkey? Get off me."
"Age nine, you fell into the river and we met for the first time."
"What are you saying? I wouldn't do something as stupid as falling into-"
"I saved you that day and we played by the beach," when Misaki didn't say anything, he continued,"You invited me to play again the next day. You promised we could keep playing together, but the next day you didn't show up. I couldn't find you for a really long time..." His voice trailed off, grip weakening against Misaki.
"Do you remember me?"
Misaki hesitated and Saruhiko couldn't help but feel his hopes rise. He's considering the possibility, he thought. However, as much as he wished for it, he knew the answer in the back of his mind. Yet, he felt the full impact of that one syllable.
Inside the Witch's underwater cave, he was grinning creepily from ear to ear. If he didn't look creepily enough from his curse, the smile he had on was making it worse. "One more, just one more!" he chanted to himself as he swam around in circles around the cave with glee.
His fox-like ears twitched when he heard the sound of a tail hitting the dead coral at the entrance of his cave. Immediately, he froze and he swam out as far as he could to greet the person who came to see him.
A wide eye merboy floated in front of the Witch, his mouth open and ready for a scream.
"Don't be scared," the Witch said to the boy as he swam around him, forcing him into the cave. " You're here for a wish, right?"
"Y-yes, I heard of you from-"
"I don't care where you heard of me, let me hear your wish."
The boy felt his heart threaten to jump out of his mouth, he had never felt so frightened in his entire life! In fact, he was about to regret coming here. It wasn't like he was going to die if his wish didn't get granted. He should turn back, leave because he's heard terrible fairy tales about the Witch anyways. "I...Um..." he hesitated, "It's okay! I changed my-"
The Witch suddenly lurched and the boy was pulled further into the cave, trapped by the Witch's body, "You poor, unfortunate soul~" the Witch hummed.
"That boy in your class. Just because he's from a family of high class, he does whatever he wants with you."
The merboy clenched his fists and grit his teeth. Bull's eye. The Witch could only see so much about what goes on in the world with his limited magic, but it looks like Lady Luck was on his side with this case.
"He's terrible," the boy mumbled.
"Shh, it's okay," the Witch wrapped himself around the boy like a hug, "I understand."
"Yes, which is why I'll grant your wish."
"Really?" The Witch nodded, "Then, please, make him lose his status, have him be bullied like he did to me!"
The Witch grinned, looking eerier than before, "Of course~"
The Witch walked over to his cauldron and summoned the image of the boy's classmate. He mumbled a few words in a different language and sprinkled some sort of powder into the liquid. The image changed and showed the merboy's classmate suffering from poverty and scenes of him being bullied flashed across the liquid.
"Thank you," the boy smiled triumpantly.
"No, thank you," the Witch said with a dark chuckle.
"Huh?" The boy was confused as light glowed from the wall where the Witch's five hundred seventy-one legs were nailed to the wall. One by one, the legs were released from their concrete prison, freeing the Witch from his cave. The legs began surrounding the boy, wrapping him up and he let out a scream.
"Oh, scream all you want, it's too late!" the Witch laughed as his entire body wound itself against the merboy until he was suffocating within the Witch's body.
The light soon disappeared and the cave was still and silent. Somehow in the chaos, the Witch's magic 'lights' for the cave had turned off and disappeared. Slowly, the Witch's body fell to the floor of the cave, completely lifeless. It even started drifting about like a corpse in the sea.
The boy, however, stood still in the middle of the cave in a hunched position. Slowly, he lifted his head to reveal a large grin on his face. He snapped his fingers and the cave lit up once more, "Hahaha!" he laughed giddily as he swam across the cave, waving his arms wildly in excitement, "I'm free!"
After a few minutes, he stopped in front of the cauldron, "First thing's first, this appearance... Tsk." He pulled at the brown locks of hair and in an instant, they changed to a white color and became long, flowing down to his waist. His facial structure and eye color changed as well. Finally, his body shape turned into that of a grown merman.
"Now calculations," he snapped his fingers again and numbers appeared on the liquid surface, "My twin brother cursed me to a horrifying appearance and locked me in this cave for what happened to our sister. Tch, it wasn't my fault she died."
He was simply talking to himself now, "She wanted to see the world above, but you wouldn't let her. So she turned to me. Being your twin, I had the second most powerful magic in the family and I saw no harm in her wanting to see the world. So I gave her legs to walk with every night."
"She caught the interest of violent humans and was killed by them. You watched helplessly from your magic crystal, didn't you, Brother? You flew to her rescue,but it was too late."
"However, it was not without punishing me first. Locking away half my magic, changing my appearance and forcing me to stay here until I granted five hundred seventy-one wishes."
"You thought I would change by then or maybe you thought I'd never be able to do it. Whatever it might be. You even made things harder by telling a fairy tale where the first king of Atlantis had two beloved siblings. However, his younger brother was evil and wanted the throne so he plotted to break the older brother's heart. He lured their beautiful sister onto land where he killed her. The older brother was furious, but couldn't bring himself to kill his brother, cursing him to a cave for all eternity."
"Liar! You always lied ever since we were kids."
He paused, "but it's over now. I'll get back the magical power that I had given to people who came for wishes the past couple hundred years and I'll get my revenge." He smiled and turned back to the cauldron, looking at the numbers, "so four hundred fifty-three are dead and I'll have to visit their graves. That means one hundred thirteen are still in Atlantis and needs to be killed. Ohh, and one more." He grinned, "the last one I, the one and only Colorless King of Atlantis, have to kill to regain my power is on land, substitute-prince of Atlantis, Saruhiko Fushimi."
With one last evil cackle, the Witch, now a merman, left the cave in search of his first victim.
OMG I typed like a good quarter of this on an iPad on vacation in Canada! I'm going to read it over and check for mistakes, but I can't promise this chapter to be free of typos. I'm typing it up in a gmail draft and it doesn't always save properly. Ofc, uploading to ff was another hell of it's own ):
On another note, the plot is picking up! I wanted to show more of Saru and Misaki's friendship, but the chapter was getting too long. I was going through a 'now kiss!' Kinda deal as I typed this. :T But, like, the mood was wrong. Or Misaki would beat the shit outta Saru if he did. Haha. ...SOON.
Btw, I have no clue what time period this is anymore. It was set in the Middle Ages-ish until Misaki's house got a shower and Kuroh has a voice recorder! It's um...a different world, so it's okay! (Lol?) it was also strangely hard to write Kuroh here. It was hard to come up with sayings for his recorder and idk how Kuroh would talk with Saruhiko. I mean, they never did in the anime...? .~.
One last interesting thing: I saw a red and blue clan sword of Damocles in a mall in Toronto. Pretty cool, 'crept it was thirteen bucks and a bit too pricy for someone who doesn't usually wear necklaces.
As always, thanks so much for reading! (Woah, this is the longest chapter I've...ever done o.o 6k+ words.