Chapter 3

 Seventh Bay

Chapter 3

Riptide

Jason didn’t even know how to go back to his life after meeting Laven. His grades suffered more than ever, but he worked to get them up so that his father would leave him alone. He avoided almost all of his friends, preferring to spend his evenings with Laven.

The merman was always happy to see him, often leaping out of the water when he saw Jason approaching from the cliffs. He would eventually calm down, but often it was only after Jason joined him in the water. Jason eventually just started bringing swimming trunks.

“The thing I don’t understand is why you live in this little cove.” Jason said, treading water as Laven swam lazily around him. The question had been bothering him for days. It almost scared him. The thought of Laven leaving the bay left him panicked.

Laven¬†hmmm‘ed and dove underneath Jason. When he resurfaced, he looked thoughtful. “This place has everything I need, it’s relatively well hidden, and somewhat lively. And the company is nice.” He teased, poking Jason’s foot with his tail. Jason blushed, and kicked Laven softly with the abused foot. Laven adopted a hurt expression, and dove under the human.

Jason looked around in confusion for a moment before he felt the merman’s hands on his ankles. He had time to take a quick breath before Laven pulled him under. The human struggled briefly, but he knew he didn’t really stand any real chance against a merman in the water.

Laven kept hold of him, but maneuvered himself so Jason was wrapped in his arms, their faces level. Jason looked into Laven’s mischievous eyes, and Laven grinned. Jason smiled with him, but his lungs were starting to beg for air. Laven, realizing this, pulled them both to the surface, and Jason gratefully gulped lungfuls of air.

Laven laughed softly, always amused at Jason’s inability to breathe underwater. Jason swore that sometimes the merman had a morbid streak a mile wide. But he never hurt the human.

Then, Laven’s eyes lit up. He appraised Jason, and said, “I have an idea. It might not work, but if it does, there are a lot of things I could show you.”

Jason frowned in confusion. “What are you talking about?”

Laven smirked. “Let me breathe for you. If I can give you air, you could stay under a lot longer. Do you want to try?”

Jason’s eyes widened. “You mean, you’d have to . . . .” He touched his lips, at a loss for words. Laven rolled his eyes, and grabbed Jason’s arm. The human’s pulse quickened, and they slid under the water. Laven floated a few feet from the surface, waiting for Jason to open his eyes. The human did so, after a moment, and winced at the salt. His hair wafted through the water. Laven always thought he was much more handsome underwater. The merman pushed the thought aside, and drew water through his gills. He collected some of the air in his mouth, which was surprisingly difficult. He pulled Jason towards him, and lightly pressed his lips against the human’s.

Jason jumped slightly, sending shock waves through the bay. His mouth opened, and Laven gently blew the oxygen into Jason’s lungs. Jason pulled back after a moment, and smiled. Evidently, it had worked. Thrilled, Laven pulled Jason deeper. Jason resisted lightly, but then gave in. They drifted towards bottom of the bay, Laven stopping occasionally to give Jason air.

Laven showed him the bed of oysters that inhabited the sandy strip near the cliffs, the bed of kelp at the edge of the ocean, and the colorful garden of coral around the fringes of the bay. Then, a sly look in his eyes, Laven towed the human to the cliffs, and then they dove deeper. Near the bottom, they ducked into a crevasse that opened into a spacious cave.

The cave was brighter than it should have been, at the bottom of the ocean. They broke the surface, and Jason blinked in surprise. Laven smiled. “The cave opens at the top of the cliffs somewhere. But isn’t it pretty? I found it a while ago, and was sad that you couldn’t hold your breath long enough to get here.”

Jason wasn’t really listening. No light filtered down from the opening, but across the ceiling of the cave, a million tiny pinpricks of blue light glowed like stars. Laven smiled and let Jason take it all in, drifting behind him and wrapping his arms around him in a rather possessive way. He liked the human, more than he’d ever liked one of the silly land-plodders.

Jason blushed, surprised by Laven’s sudden affection. He turned his attention back to the merman. Laven cocked his head sideways, and asked softly, “When I was helping you breathe earlier . . . did you like it?”

Jason blushed deeply, and tried to turn away, but Laven’s hand stopped him, gently forcing his chin back up. Jason was lost for a moment in the merman’s eyes, but he managed to stammer, “I . . . well . . . yeah, I did . . . I-” Jason was interrupted by Laven’s lips again on his own, and he melted into the kiss, clinging to the merman like a life-preserver. Laven’s lips quirked into a smile, and when he pulled back, he laughed.

Jason, now more in control of himself, stuck his tongue out at Laven. Laven grinned, and pulled Jason into a hug, which the human returned with slightly less enthusiasm. He wasn’t quite sure he liked how much control the merman seemed to have over his emotional and mental states.

Laven only smiled, as if guessing what Jason was thinking. He leaned in and gently nuzzled at Jason’s neck. Jason let out a soft gasp, and Laven whispered, “It’s nearly dark.”

Jason frowned. He enjoyed his visits to the bay, and hated when he had to leave. At least, he consoled himself, he could always return the next day. He wove his fingers through Laven’s thick hair, and replied, “I should probably get back . . . I don’t want to upset my dad.”

Laven made a small disappointed sound, but slowly pulled Jason back under the water. They stayed under, the merman breathing for Jason when needed. They swam to the mouth of the bay, and through the kelp. It quickly turned into a forest, and only Laven’s sense of direction saved Jason from getting lost. They broke out of the kelp, and Jason was surprised by the complete lack of life. It was plain sand, and a few rocks, stretching into the gloom. Laven suddenly seemed much more alert, eyes flashing everywhere. They quickly swam into the next bay, but stayed underwater.

A fire burned blue and green on the beach. Laven looked fascinated, but Jason knew it was just a driftwood fire. A group of teenagers was gathered around it, passing around a joint. There were a few bottles lying around, and another making the rounds. Jason tapped Laven, and gestured back to the ocean. Laven nodded, and they circled into the next bay, which was mercifully empty.

They swam until it was shallow enough for Jason to walk, and stood there for a few minutes in silence, simply enjoying each others’ company as long as they could. Then Laven pulled Jason in for one more kiss, and Jason kissed back ferociously. Laven had to break off the kiss, smirking. Jason narrowed his eyes at the merman, who gave his best innocent look.

Jason turned to the shore, and Laven called softly, “Come back to me soon?”

Jason turned, smiling warmly. “You know I will.”

Chapter 4

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