Chapter 5

Seventh Bay

Chapter 5

Rising Tide

It was actually really surreal after Jason got off the phone with his dad. Matt was silent, and Laven was still unconscious. I tossed Matt his phone back, trying not to punch him. He deserved worse, damn it! He was the reason Laven was hurt!

“Matt, make yourself useful and help me get Laven to the road. Dad won’t be able to get the truck in here.” Jason hadn’t told his dad about Laven. He didn’t want to deal with thatparticular bramble at the moment. Um, dad? Yeah . . . I’m gay. And guess what? I’m dating a merman!

Jason didn’t think so. His dad would find out soon enough. He was on his way. The phone call had gone surprisingly well, despite the fact that his dad had been asleep.

Who is this?”

Dad? It’s me. I don’t have time to explain, but I need your help. I’m at the Seventh Bay. Hurry, please.”

I’ll be there in ten minutes. Hang in there till I get there.” Then he’d hung up.

Matt helped Jason carry Laven up the long trail, careful not to drop him on the sharp rocks. They managed to get him to the roadside after about five minutes of swearing and huffing. Matt sat down next to Laven while Jason paced, trying to figure out a way to explain this to his father.

Five or so minutes later, he still didn’t have an explanation. And he saw the lights of his father’s pickup on the road. He took a few deep breaths, and before he knew it his father pulled to a sudden stop right in front of him. In a flash, he was out of the truck and walking towards Jason as fast as he could. “Jason. What’s wrong, son? What’s going on?”

Jason took one last breath. “Dad? My friend got hurt really bad. We have to get him back to our house, okay?”

His father blinked. “But if he’s hurt, we should take him to a hospital.”

Jason didn’t have time to explain why that wasn’t possible. He took his father’s hand, and pulled him over to where Laven was lying, hoping the older man wouldn’t have a heart attack.

It was a near thing. He went completely white, started stuttering, and took three steps back. Then Jason said, “Dad! We’ve got to get him out of here!” And he pulled it together. Jason wasn’t sure how, but he knew he’d have a lot of explaining to do. Later. He thought. After I’m sure Laven is okay. Nothing else matters right now.

Together they got Laven into the truck. Matt rode up front with Jason’s dad, while Jason rode in the bed of the truck with Laven, the merman’s head cradled in his lap. They’d found a tarp back there, and Laven was lying on it. None of them knew how long the merman could go without water, so Jason’s father was speeding to get them home as fast as possible.

It was fairly chaotic when they got there. They got Laven inside, and into the bathroom quickly. Jason’s dad laid the unconscious merman in the bathtub, and starting digging for a first aid kit. Jason hovered over Laven, anxious. Matt stood awkwardly in the doorway.

Then Laven sat bolt upright, eyes wide. He stared around uncomprehendingly, first at Jason’s dad, then at Jason, then at Matt. He glanced down at himself, and winced. He was still bleeding in a dozen places. He slumped back. “Jason?”

Jason was at his side instantly. “Laven? What is it? What can we do?”

The merman closed his eyes. “I need water. Seawater. It will heal the wounds. And please . . . hurry. It’s starting . . . to get hard . . . to talk.” He shuddered. Jason turned to Matt. “Get a bucket and get some seawater from behind out house. Dad, can you help me get some food ready? He’s gonna be hungry soon.” Jason knew the merman’s appetite was ferocious.

Matt hurried out, and Jason’s dad grabbed Jason by the shoulder. “Son, I know this isn’t the time to talk, but when all this is over . . . you’re going to tell me everything. Understood?”

Jason nodded, and his father left the room, motioning for Jason to stay. Jason sat on the toilet, watching Laven as the merman’s breathing grew labored. Then Matt reappeared, with a bucket of seawater. He hesitated, and Jason took the bucket. Gently, he poured the water over Laven’s jerking body, and the merman gasped. The water barely made a puddle in the tub, and Jason thrust the bucket at Matt, who left to get more.

Laven’s tremors slowed. He opened his eyes, and he seemed more lucid. “That’s a little better.” He sighed, and raised a hand, dripping with saltwater. “Your dad didn’t seem delighted to see me.” Sarcasm was heavy in his voice.

Jason smiled without much humor. “I doubt he expected his son to drag home a half dead fish man.” Laven stuck his tongue out at Jason. They were silent as Matt came in with another bucket of seawater. Laven was recovering quickly, but his wounds had only stopped bleeding.

Jason’s dad walked in with a bowl of soup, steaming hot. He set it on the edge of the bathtub, and then left again, giving them space. Jason was a little worried about what his dad was thinking, but it couldn’t have been too terrible. Laven picked up the spoon awkwardly, and spooned some of the soup into his mouth. His nose wrinkled and his mouth screwed up in distaste.

Jason laughed at the look on his face, as Laven hurriedly washed the taste out of his mouth with salt water. “You humans eat this stuff? Don’t you have any fish or anything?”

“I think we could find some.” Jason’s dad said, walking in and picking up the bowl. Matt came in with more water, then left again. Jason was impressed with his level of devotion. Jason’s father gave Jason a look, and asked, “Could you help me with the fish? How would you like them . . . ?”

The merman pushed himself into a more upright position. His wounds were a lot better, but still red. “Laven. And raw would be good. I can’t stand cooked food, unless it’s pie. I love pie.” After this particular tidbit of info, Jason’s dad dragged him out, and into the kitchen.

Pulling some fish from the freezer, Jason’s dad asked, “So, how do you know this . . . merman? How’d you two meet?”

Jason leaned against the counter and shrugged. “I went hiking, to the Seventh Bay. He was there, almost made me have a heart attack. We’ve been hanging out every day since.” His father nodded in understanding. He put the fish in the sink and ran cold water over it. “So that’s where you’ve been. And how well do you know this guy? You’re friends?”

Jason took a deep breath. “No. We’re not friends, exactly.” Another deep breath, the clincher. “I love him.”

His father stopped, quickly looking at Jason. Then he turned back to the fish, his voice shaking slightly. “You . . . love him? Romantically?”

Jason nodded. “Yes.”

Jason’s dad took a shaky breath. “And does he love you?” Jason nodded again. “Well . . . that’s a good thing, I guess.”

Jason stared. “You’ve always been against this sort of thing. What changed?”

His father turned to look at him full on. “You’re my son, Jason. I want you to be happy. If this makes you happy, then it’s fine by me. So long as you’re smart about it.” He held out his arms, and Jason blinked before hurrying in for a hug. His dad held him tight, then let him go to check the fish. “Go on, tell him this is almost done.”

Jason hurried back to the bathroom, finding the tub full of saltwater, Laven calmly under the surface, his eyes closed. Jason walked over, and gently tapped the side of the tub to let the merman know he was back. Laven’s eyes opened, and he smiled. His face broke the water’s surface, his eyes bright. “I feel better now. But there won’t be oxygen in this water for too much longer.”

Jason nodded. “Dad says the fish is almost done. So after you eat, if you’re feeling up to it, we’ll take you down to the water.” Laven smiled and nodded. Just then, Jason’s dad walked in, the fish in a bowl. He handed it to Laven, shuddering ever so slightly at the feel of the merman’s wet skin. Laven happily started eating, while Jason’s dad left. Jason himself absently watched the merman eat, quickly turning Laven down when the merman offered him a bite.

When he was done, the merman appeared sleepy. Jason smiled, and told him, “We’ll take you down to the ocean tomorrow. For now, maybe you should sleep.”

Laven protested, disliking the small tub. He barely fit in it, and not comfortably. But Jason silenced him effectively by pressing his lips to Laven’s. The merman was stunned, then he started kissing back, his lips moving on Jason’s and making the human moan. He was about to reach up for the human, but Jason pulled back. “One sec.” Jason said breathlessly. He got up, and Laven grinned as he closed the door.

 Chapter 6

Comments are closed.