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15 May 2008 @ 11:44 pm
Fic: Undertow  
Title: Undertow
Rating: PG
Pairing: Akame
Summary: Jin is a human, and Kame is the merman that saves him from a watery grave. They don't quite manage to live happily ever after.
Notes and Warnings: Originally spawned by this prompt but I decided it didn't really fit after all was said and done. Character death. Much love to flamesword for putting up with all my wailing and gnashing of teeth, and for nudging me in the right direction when I needed it ♥.



Jin was the son of a minor nobleman, one able to provide his family with a moderately luxurious lifestyle. His mother was elegant and well-learned for a woman, his younger brother Reio rough around the edges but similarly intelligent. Jin had never been denied anything he asked for, and his days were spent pursuing whatever captured his fancy.

Acquaintances were always telling his parents that Jin was so kind to the servants, had such a gentle touch with animals. A bit slow they'd whisper, not softly enough, but a wonderful lad. Reio would likely be the one to inherit the Akanishi estate, and he didn't begrudge his parents their decision. He had better things to do anyway, he told himself, than sit at a desk all day going over figures.

And of those his favorite was to play by the sea. Many a day had been spent chasing Otokoyama up and down the beach, reveling in the feeling of wet sand between his toes and the ocean breeze in his hair. On clear days he would set out to sea in his small skiff, also a gift from his father, though Otokoyama didn't like going with him on these expeditions and would sit patiently on the beach, gazing reproachfully after him.

Jin was, perhaps surprisingly, not a bad of a sailor. He'd made sure to at least read up on the subject before his first outing, and repeated trips had refined his fumbling technique in to something sure and well-practiced, if not strictly conventional.

That didn't stop the storm from catching him by surprise, roiling dark clouds racing across what had been a clear blue sky. The rain that came down was torrential, and the fierce winds whipped up thrashing waves that threatened to throw Jin overboard as he took in the sail and started rowing anxiously for shore, until one finally did.

Scrabbling desperately for the boat until he finally found purchase, Jin clung to the overturned skiff and wondered if his family would miss him, then felt ashamed of himself for doubting their love no matter their opinions about his intelligence. Then he wasn't left with much time to worry as a high wave crashed in to the boat, knocking him loose from the boat's slick underside and pulling him in to the icy depths.

-----

Kazuya had always been an obedient child, becoming even more so after the chief took him in and made him realize his importance as a representative of the clan, and remained an obedient adult. So when clan rules forbid them from going anywhere near humans, let alone touching or talking to them he followed them.

Well, up to a certain point. Kazuya found humans strangely fascinating and wasn't quite able to resist observing the human village that bordered his territory when he had time, though he was always careful to stay out of sight. He was curious, not stupid or reckless after all, and he knew well why the rules had been put in place.

So despite his curiosity he still held a natural wariness for them, and wasn't prepared to deal with one falling right in to his lap.

So preoccupied was Kazuya with fighting through the turbulent waters stirred up by the storm on his way home that he didn't notice the body plunging towards him until it was almost on top of him, the sight startling him in to dropping his spear and share of the catch as he scrambled to keep the human from sinking even further. Swimming furiously, Kazuya managed to get the human to the surface, slinging a limp arm around his shoulders to keep the man's head above the waves as best he could considering the storm. Gazing upon the rain splattered face it took Kazuya a moment to realize that he'd seen this human before, quite often in fact, either running with his dog on the beach or playing in the sand like he'd seen human children do.

It took him another to realize just what he had done.

Kazuya froze. He'd now flagrantly broken their laws, had not only come close to a human but also touched him, was almost embracing him in his efforts to keep him afloat. At least the man was mercifully asleep, had not actually laid eyes on Kazuya, and the best thing to do would have been to leave before the human woke up, before he could wake and catch a glimpse of something he shouldn't. But Kazuya couldn't just leave him to die either.

Finally, chest tight with fear but unwilling to leave the man to the mercy of the storm Kazuya set out for shore, carefully keeping the human's head out of the water for they couldn't breathe it the way children of the sea did. Coming to a stand of high cliffs he slipped in to a well hidden opening in the sheer rock face and entered a small grotto he'd chanced upon when he was younger and more carefree. Kazuya heaved the sodden weight up on to the low rock ledge running the length of the cave and rolled him on to his back, and having been relieved of his burden should have deserted the place immediately.

But something made him cling to the rocky shelf he'd placed the human on even after checking for the rise and fall of his chest that said he still lived, made Kazuya reach forward to brush a drying lock of hair out of his face, the pained frown not obscuring the handsomeness of its features. Then the man suddenly let out a groan, his eyelids fluttering as he shifted uncomfortably on bare rock, and Kazuya took it as his cue to leave.

-----

Jin woke to the squawking of gulls and the overpowering taste of salt in his mouth, shivering as a brisk wind cut through the tattered rags that had once been his clothes. He managed to open his eyes with some effort, wincing as the sun's rays lanced down from a rock window set high overhead, and found himself in a cave, one connected to the sea if the continuous slap of waves against rock were anything to go by. He remembered the sudden storm and getting thrown out of his skiff, then a blankness that meant he'd probably been knocked out in the process. The next thing he remembered was waking up just now, wherever he was, feeling distinctly grimy and sore from sleeping out in the elements.

When Jin finally found the strength to heave himself off the rocky ground and look at his surroundings more closely, he saw that he'd been placed on a rock shelf that rose a few inches out of the sea. Placed, for he knew he couldn't have washed up on shore by himself, that someone must have put him there, though a quick glance around revealed no clues as to his savior's whereabouts.

Not that he really had the luxury of worrying about that right now anyway, Jin thought as he glanced up to confirm that the sun was almost directly overhead. If it was noon then at least one whole day had passed while he slept, and his family must have worried when he hadn't returned. Scratching absently at the salt caked in his hair, Jin squinted blearily at the back wall of the cave until he spotted an opening set off to one side in the, almost hidden in the shadows. Finding no other possible exits besides the sea he took it, hoping it would lead outside, and he was rewarded when after a stumbling trek through the dark tunnel he suddenly stepped in to sunlight and fresh air--as well as a face full of leaves.

Jin let out a noise of disgust but started forward, swatting tiredly at the branches blocking his way as he waded through the thick undergrowth, grateful that his shoes had somehow managed to stay on throughout his ordeal though they now chafed incessantly. Sooner than he expected Jin stumbled out in to the open and was relieved but surprised to find he knew where he was, just some way up the coast from one of the local towns--the one that sold the best scones in the world, if he remembered correctly--right on the edge of the Akanishi estate. The trees he'd just fought his way through were part of a small but dense stand that sat at the base of a set of sea cliffs that continued farther up the coast. Jin had always just gone around them in favor of clambering up the hills whenever he wanted to look out at the ocean from higher up, and from what he could remember of the path he'd taken it seemed the grotto had been carved in to what he'd always thought was a solid wall of rock. He'd probably sailed right by its opening in to the sea countless times, never once aware of its presence.

His family were besides themselves with worry when Jin finally managed to stagger through the front door, probably looking as miserable as he felt. He let himself be fussed over, Otokoyama dancing happily around his feet as Jin tried his best to reassure them that he was fine, really, and when he saw how anxious they'd been decided not to tell them how close to death he'd come.

It was only after he finally extricated himself from their attention to take a bath and scarf down a hot meal that Jin let himself think about the experience more. The person who'd saved him had probably come from the direction of the sea, for who would bother fishing him out of the ocean and putting him back on dry land, only to haul him along a uncleared path through the underbrush and dump him in a hard to reach cave? Well, it wasn't impossible, but to Jin it seemed like an awful lot of trouble to go to just to confound a drowning man. But even if his rescuer had plucked him out of the ocean, why then had they brought him to the hidden grotto instead of directly to shore?

So it was with the idea of unraveling this mystery that Jin set out to find the grotto the very next day over his family's protests, promising them that he'd be fine, couldn't even set out to sea with his skiff lost to the waves after all. Otokoyama once again his companion he started the long walk to the beach, sighing in relief when he finally spotted the first cliff and the trees that hid the entrance. It took some tromping through the thick undergrowth but Jin eventually managed to find the entrance, and the shadowed passageway indeed lead to the same cave he'd woken up in the day before.

There was, unfortunately, no one there to answer his many questions, but Jin had known the chance would be slim. Slipping a hand in to his pocket he took out a piece of sweetbread he'd pilfered from the kitchens, wrapped in a napkin held together by a clumsily tied ribbon. He left it in a shallow indentation in the rock right at the edge of the water, and when an hour's wait produced no other living beings except Otokoyama's yawning form, he left.

When Jin came back the next day the pastry was still there.

But the day after that it was gone, a pile of sand dollar shells in its place. Delighted, he scooped them up and deposited them carefully in his pocket, then left another present, a candied apple this time. When this also disappeared the next time he returned, replaced by a string of cowry shells, he had another gift at the ready. And so the pattern continued, every offering of his replaced with a trinket of obvious marine origin, and Jin delighted in imagining what his sea nymph would give him next.

For that's who'd saved him, he decided, a beautiful creature who would see these gifts and fall in love all over again with the sailor she'd rescued from a watery grave, because that was how the stories went and Jin thought it couldn't hurt to dream.

-----

When Kazuya surfaced and spied another present in its usual place at the water's edge, he couldn't help feeling the now customary thrill of anticipation as he wondered what it would contain. The first few times he'd remembered a little guiltily that there shouldn't have been any next times, that he'd only meant to go back one more time to check that the human had indeed managed to wake up and take himself home, but after so many trips back the feeling had dulled considerably and he didn't hesitate to unwrap the gift.

When the chief had asked why he'd taken so long returning to the enclave after the storm Kazuya had made half-hearted excuses that were, to his surprise, accepted, and he felt guilty for touching a human then lying about it. Though not guilty enough to not go back and check on him the very next day, evidently, and though he acted as normally as he could as he said his habitual farewell to Junnosuke before they separated to hunt in their respective territories, he'd hardly filled his quota for the day before he was stealing furtively off towards the grotto. Lurking warily below the surface, Kazuya only cautiously poked his head out of the water after making sure there was no one present, and had been surprised to find a wrapped package in the same place he'd left the human he'd rescued.

He looked uncertainly around, wondering if it might be meant for someone else, but decided in the end that the chances of someone else even knowing about this cave were slim at best and started studying it from all angles, tentatively prodding it and pulling curiously at the white outer wrapping. When Kazuya gave the cord tied around it a slight tug the package fell open to reveal a strange yellow-brown lump the size of his fist, slightly squishy and resembling a sea cucumber in appearance, but the aroma it gave off was like none he'd encountered before. Kazuya repeated his careful inspection, gazing warily at the small fragment he'd scraped off for quite some time before finally bringing it to his mouth, knowing it could be dangerous to eat but unable to resist the tempting fragrance.

It wasn't. It was, in fact, one of the most delicious things he'd tasted in his entire life, and Kazuya ate and ate until there was nothing left, no matter how hard he shook the wrapping in the hopes that more would appear. Kazuya let himself pout a bit in disappointment, but quickly turned to thinking of a suitable gift to leave the human in thanks, deeming it rather rude to take a present without giving anything in return. In the end he dug a small handful of sand dollars out of his coin pouch, for though he was pretty sure humans used a different type of currency he'd seen them collected from beaches before and hoped they made a suitable reward.

Finally, knowing he was cutting his return close enough already as it was, Kazuya dug his spear and catch out of the cranny he'd lodged them in and left.

He tried to resist, he really did, but it didn't take more than few days for him to break down and slink back to the cave with a gift of his own in hand--just in case. It had been going on for a few weeks when Junnosuke asked if anything had been bothering him lately, but thankfully no one else seemed to have noticed his preoccupation and Kazuya continued the secret exchange with the being he'd started thinking of as his human.

And one day, they finally met.

Kazuya had been considering the latest present, a bundle of plant stems topped with soft pink frills that he wasn't entirely sure was edible, when he looked up to see the human stepping in to the cave. Kazuya had been so preoccupied with his mysterious gift that he hadn't heard the approaching footsteps until he looked up to find the human standing right in front of him, then all he could think about was getting away when their eyes met and his heart stopped. They stared at each other, frozen, neither daring to move until the human's pet suddenly darted out of the tunnel and startled them out of their daze. Kazuya immediately dove underwater and hid behind a boulder, gazing warily up at them while the human tried to quiet overexcited barks.

After his dog was finally pacified, the man turned back to the water and waved at Kazuya's hiding place, and though he'd been eager to meet the person he'd been exchanging gifts with for over a month now having them appear before him so suddenly had been quite a shock. But Kazuya couldn't let this opportunity pass him by, even if he was almost as nervous as the first time he'd been allowed to hold a spear. Steeling himself, he slipped out from behind the rock and swam toward the surface, nervous but determined as he slowly rose out of the water and looked his greatest secret in the eye.

"My name's Jin," the human offered with a delighted smile as he stuck out a hand, but almost immediately withdrew it in favor sketching a short bow as he laughed sheepishly, and it was all Kazuya could do to calm the rapid beating of his heart as he offered his own name with a hesitant nod. And when Jin remarked that it was a beautiful name, a crooked grin stealing over his face, Kazuya couldn't help the blush that crept over his own.

-----

Jin's sea nymph was beautiful, his hair an inky black that Kazuya usually kept in a long plait but that drifted and danced with the currents when he let it loose at Jin's request. His pale skin seemed almost to glow in the faint light as he rose out of the shadowed depths, and he seemed the very picture of the mermaids--men, rather--of legend.

At least he would be, were it not for the sharks' teeth necklace that ringed his throat, or the tattoos of strange creatures that adorned strong shoulders, melding in to fierce black lines that snaked down his arms. And though the look Kazuya gave him was wide-eyed with curiosity, reaching out a tentative hand to pat Otokoyama gingerly on the head, the way he held himself was such that it didn't surprise Jin when Kazuya later called himself a hunter.

It was surprisingly easy for them to fall in to a regular meeting pattern from then on, for Jin's days were rather free to begin with and it usually wasn't very hard for Kazuya to sneak away (though from what he was reluctant to say). They continued their gift exchange, Jin having expanded his repertoire from food and flowers to include various man-made objects after Kazuya spent an entire afternoon asking about them, eagerly grilling Jin about what they looked like and were used for and anything else he could think of. Jin smiled goofily as he took in the sheer joy and wonder on Kazuya's face, when all he was playing with was an ordinary alarm clock.

Jin had his own fair share of questions about merpeople as well of course, and Kazuya answered them all with unfailing patience, no matter how strange they were. Once Kazuya revealed that he was a hunter, responsible for spearing fish and bringing them home to share with his tribe Jin immediately asked if it felt weird to eat them, considering they were part fish. Kazuya cocked his head, a bit bemused as he pointed out that there were plenty of sea creatures that ate fish, larger fish included. Jin thought that rather made sense and went on to muse about how they cooked their food. But this question had Kazuya truly stumped, ignorant of what Jin was even talking about, for it wasn't possible for merpeople to light fires underwater after all.

Jin thought this was rather a shame, and his next gift was a variety of local fish that Kazuya would certainly be familiar with, if it hadn't been grilled a delicate golden-brown, as warm in its wrapping as Jin could have kept it considering the long walk there. The surprise on Kazuya's face after he took his first bite made Jin smile as he watched it morph in to wonder, and Kazuya's embarrassed expression when he saw Jin's stare only made him grin harder.

Kazuya asked him once--a little anxiously though he hid it well--if their meetings were keeping Jin from more pressing obligations, for it seemed to him that humans were always hurrying from place to place. Jin gave a sheepish laugh, unsure of what he could say about his situation at home though he was quick to assure Kazuya that visiting him wasn't any trouble at all.

When Jin asked the same question back, curious despite himself, Kazuya's gaze became shuttered as he looked up at Jin, his shoulders tensing though he didn't seem to be aware of it as he opened and closed his mouth, at a loss for words. Seeing that Jin immediately abandoned his question and steered the conversation toward more light-hearted topics, such as whether Otokoyama looked goofy with his hair slicked up like so. It seemed Kazuya had some secrets of his own, and that was fine.

-----

Some days Kazuya would already have to return home by the time he finished his hunt, and some days Jin did have other obligations he couldn't escape from. But both visited when they could, and as time passed Kazuya began to wonder how he could have lived without these meetings.

Jin was...interesting. He always asked the strangest questions, some really rather absurd but others ones that would never have occurred to Kazuya before, and made him really think as he tried to come up with an adequate answer. And as interested as Kazuya was with the human world, Jin was with his.

He was a good swimmer by human standards, and didn't mind getting in the water with some of the friends Kazuya brought for him to meet. That Jin would hit it off with a cheeky dolphin or an indolent manatee, Kazuya had no doubt. But he was surprised--pleasantly so--when Jin greeted he sea turtle that was their patron guardian with perfect respect, somehow having sensed how important she was without Kazuya having to tell him. Jin drew the line at the tiger shark that provided the teeth for his necklace and sometimes acted as his hunting partner though, pouting as he heard the amused chuckle Kazuya couldn't quite suppress, and even Otokoyama seemed to laugh at how silly his master was being.

Surprisingly, it took quite a bit of time for them to get on to the subject of their physical differences, perhaps simply because they were the most obvious ones. But the day came when Kazuya couldn't contain his curiosity anymore, a result of Jin's habit of dangling his feet in the water whenever he sat at the water's edge, and when Kazuya finally asked if he could take a closer look Jin was more than happy to oblige.

And though Jin usually darted from topic to topic, interested in everything but unable to keep his attention on any one, he tolerated the many questions about his legs that Kazuya had previously withheld with surprising patience. A tentative poke at the bottom of his foot produced an undignified yelp but none of the expected flailing or thrashing, and he readily subjected himself to Kazuya's instructions for him to do this or that, all in the name of satisfying his curiosity. Jin eventually ended the session though when Kazuya started running his hand up and down his 'calf' as he massaged the muscle underneath, laughing nervously at Kazuya's puzzled look while shifting from some discomfort he wouldn't reveal.

And once that was done, Jin naturally wanted to take a closer look at him too. Kazuya watched as his friend slid in to the water with an ease he hadn't shown just weeks ago and paddled over until he was treading water alongside, pausing with his arm out-stretched as if to wait for permission. And when Jin finally gently smoothed his hand over the bright blue scales of Kazuya's tail, the way he gazed at something the chief had always scorned as frivolous with such reverence sent a shiver running down Kazuya's spine. He tried to cover it up with a flippant, "It's just a tail, you've seen them before," but the comment made Jin stare at him like he was a half-wit.

During his next visit Jin presented a ring ('borrowed' from his mother, it was later revealed) set with a stone he called a sapphire, so rare and precious that humans would fight to the death over the most exquisite of them all. Kazuya held his breath as Jin gently deposited it in his trembling palm, holding it carefully up to the light so that he could admire the way it shimmered and gleamed, and the realization that Jin could liken him to something so beautiful made his eyes sting. And when he finally managed to tear himself away it was to find Jin staring at him, with a tender look in his eyes and a smile that made his heart stop.

Kazuya supposed he shouldn't have been all that surprised when Junnosuke remarked that he'd been smiling a lot more lately.

He blinked. "I have?"

"Yup! You've always been so serious, ever since..." Junnosuke shook his head. "Anyway, it's nice to see you like this. You seem happier." And Kazuya found he couldn't really deny it.

He'd just have to be more careful from now on, he resolved after bidding his friend farewell, though that didn't stop a smile from stealing across his face as he remembered the walrus tusk carving tucked in to his satchel, his newest gift for Jin.

-----

Most of Jin's present for Kazuya were food, flowers, human inventions whose workings awed and delighted him but that Jin couldn't exactly loan out on a permanent basis. He wanted to give Kazuya something he could actually keep and treasure (and think of Jin whenever he looked at it), which was why he found himself wandering through the market on the way home one day, with only the vaguest idea of a suitable gift in mind.

What finally caught his eye was a hair clip in the shape of the anemone flower with a surprisingly sturdy make, unassuming in design were it not for the eerie blue of its polished lapis lazuli petals. He purchased it on the spot and practically skipped home, giddy as he tried to imagine Kazuya's reaction to it, his parents and brother looking warily on as he danced past.

When Jin finally presented it to Kazuya he was gratified to see his eyes go wide in wonder, but the expression soon turned puzzled as he gave it a confused look, unsure of how to use it. Smiling, Jin directed him to release his hair from its confining braid as he knelt to scoop up a fall of black silk, pinning it back behind a delicate ear. The glow of its pale blue petals against the darkness of Kazuya's hair, that it was adorning him in the first place stole Jin's breath away, as he thought too late that he should have brought a mirror so that Kazuya could see himself. And though the only words he could find to tell him so--"You're really beautiful"--seemed woefully inadequate, the shy twist of Kazuya's lips told Jin they'd gotten the point across.

Jin was filled then with the urge to embrace him, to sweep Kazuya up in to his arms and hold him so close that their hearts beat as one. But one look at Kazuya--only his tattooed shoulders visible above the waterline--revealed the improbability of the idea, and that he couldn't reminded him again of how different their lives were, separated by the earth Kazuya could not walk upon and the ocean Jin could not live beneath.

Unwilling to let himself spoil the mood Jin tried turning his thoughts to happier things, but Kazuya must have seen something in his expression for he was suddenly heaving himself up out of the sea, the first time he'd left the water in all their meetings. Seating himself on the stone ledge Kazuya reached up and grasped Jin's hand, pulling him down until they sat side by side, human feet and merman tail brushing against each other beneath the waves.

Jin slowly slid his arm around Kazuya's waist, stroking his hip where skin turned to scales while Kazuya rested his head on Jin's shoulder, sharing a smile as Otokoyama gave up trying to get their attention and flopped down behind them, a warm weight against their backs. They remained this way for as long as they could, pressed shoulder to hip to knee until the cave was bathed in cool darkness and the sun had surely long since sunk beneath the horizon. And when it finally came time for them to part they did so reluctantly, hands and gazes lingering until Kazuya finally slid soundlessly back in to the sea.

After he'd made it out of the cave and was heading down the beach Jin thought he saw the flash of a red tail, too large to be a fish but its color made it unlikely to be a dolphin or shark. Nothing else disturbed the surface and Jin turned back home, wondering as he walked if it belonged to another merperson, and hoped Kazuya would introduce him to his friend the next time they met.

-----

Junnosuke was already waiting at their usual meeting place when Kazuya finally made it back, but he was as good-natured as ever and didn't mention his tardiness. He did comment on Kazuya's new hairstyle and acquisition however, smiling benignly as a hand flew immediately to the clip. "I found it today," he stuttered, "while I was, that is--"

"Just lying on the beach I expect," Junnosuke grinned, and Kazuya wished once again that he didn't blush so easily. Turning up his nose he made to swim past, but a strange noise made him stop.

"Did you hear something?"

They both stilled, listening intently as the sound eventually resolved itself in to a pattern of strokes familiar to everyone, a result of a violent confrontation that had forever taken away the owner's ability to hunt.

"Chief," he breathed, lightheaded.

"You'll get in so much trouble if he catches you with it," Junnosuke moaned.

"I know!" Kazuya hissed as he struggled to remove the accessory, dismayed when his hair refused to let it go.

"Hide it, hurry!" Junnosuke urged as he looked frantically around for any sign of the clan leader, spear at the ready.

"I know!" Kazuya snapped as he scrabbled desperately at the clip, but he was too late as they found themselves surrounded on all sides by the other hunters of their clan. They'd obviously been lying in wait, so suddenly had they appeared, and that they were all armed boded ill for their chances. Kazuya slowly raised his eyes to meet the chief's, paling as the cold gaze alighted upon the flower in his hair, his fingers still wrapped around it.

"What is that?" Kazuya slowly withdrew his hand and tried to compose himself, opening his mouth to fire off a prompt and un-incriminating answer, but nothing would come out. A gesture and one of the hunters--Tatsuya--darted forward and snatched Junnosuke's spear away, while Keiichiro and Yuichi were suddenly just there, restraining him. Kazuya tightened the grip he had on his own spear, now truly frightened as he warily eyed his caretaker's thunderous expression, while the rest of the circle looked on in stony silence.

"It has come to my attention," the chief began, "that you have been observed meeting a human. Not just meeting him--talking to him, exchanging trinkets with him, and now I find that you are being courted by him? Am I mistaken?"

"No," Kazuya managed to croak, "but--"

"You should know better than anyone what this means," he hissed.

"But I wasn't--"

"To think that you would think so little of your people," he roared, "that you would betray us and sell yourself to a human like a common whore!"

"I'm not!" Kazuya cried but that didn't stop a hunter from charging at him, weapon held high, forcing him to parry and thrust by instinct in his blind panic. But then his spear was stopped by a body and Kazuya froze, horrified, as he realized the person spitted on the end was Koki.

He barely had time to process the fact that he'd just fatally wounded a childhood friend when he heard Junnosuke shout a warning, turning just in time to see a spear rushing toward his face.

-----

When Jin heard some of the servants talking one morning about a mermaid that had been caught off the coast he froze, a spoonful of scrambled eggs partway in his mouth. Chewing thoughtfully as he strained his ears for any scrap of information, Jin entertained notions of playing the savior this time if they happened to be talking about Kazuya, though it would be best if they weren't of course. There was no harm in checking it out in any case, and even if it didn't turn out to be his friend Jin could at least help out one of Kazuya's people.

When Jin heard that the mermaid had already been dead when they pulled it out of the water, its mauled corpse now on display just a few streets away from the market were he'd bought Kazuya's hair clip, his heart stopped.

Jin finished his breakfast in a much more subdued manner, forgetting even to clean up after himself to save the servants some trouble as he usually did. He then set out with Otokoyama at his heels as he always had, a bag of Kazuya's favorite sugar cookies burning a hole in his pocket. When they arrived at the town's entrance Jin stopped and lingered, reluctant to enter, while his dog sniffed the air and growled at some unseen threat. But as he made to turn towards the road that lead to the beach Otokoyama suddenly bolted from his side, barking ferociously as he charged in to town.

Jin stood there, he didn't know for how long, as the sharp yelps faded in to the distance. Otokoyama eventually reappeared, slinking down the road with his head low, whining mournfully as he returned to his owner's side. Jin said nothing, and they continued on their way.

The grotto was empty when they arrived. Seeing no one there Jin settled himself in to the most comfortable position possible against the cave wall, Otokoyama's head in his lap, and waited. It wasn't like he had anything better to do and Kazuya's clan needed him for food, much more important than the mere companionship Jin sought. When night fell and Kazuya still hadn't shown himself Jin left the gift at the water's edge--just as he had the first time--and departed.

But the cookies remained uneaten and no one appeared, not that day or the next, nor during the weeks and months that followed. The corpse was eventually taken down when it started rotting and attracting flies, and still the grotto remained empty.

-----

Jin had always had a lot of leisure time, much more than Reio did, which he'd minded when he was younger but now took as a source of pride that indicated the trust his parents had in him. So he was used to Jin being gone for long stretches of time, sometimes leaving at dawn and returning only long after the sun had set.

Despite a fascination with the sea that he'd had ever since Reio could remember, Jin usually spent at least some of his time on or near the estate. His habits had changed recently though, as he stole off to parts unknown during the daylight hours, and it became rare that Reio saw his brother at all. It was eventually revealed that his destination was near the coast town Adrasse a few miles to the south, after an acquaintance remarked to their parents that she'd seen 'your eldest, the dear boy' during a trip to the area. They wondered about what he could possibly be doing that would require making the long trek everyday, but he seemed happy enough so they never pressed him about it.

That had changed in the past few months however, and Reio was worried. Though Jin still seemed to behave as he always had, his schedule largely the same, there was something in his manner that hinted at inner demons though he refused to talk about them. While once he'd come back every day with a smile permanently plastered to his face he now wore stone masks, his eyes blank and smooth like mirrors as if a part of him had died.

One day, Jin didn't return.

Reio scratched the disconsolate Otokoyama behind his ears, waving a pan of food in front of his nose in the hopes of enticing him to eat something. Perhaps he could have done something more, said anything to keep him from running away or--

Reio sighed. He hadn't known how to approach Jin, none of their family had for all that they had loved him. But what he did know was the being his brother had become, something pale and hollow, living only in name. And when Otokoyama finally stopped whimpering long enough to give a hunk of bologna a tentative lick, Reio gave him a pat on the head and bowed his own to say a short prayer, asking that wherever Jin had gone he was happy.




-end-

 
 
 
kagemihari - shadow watcher: je kat-tun - kame aloneflamesword on May 16th, 2008 06:58 am (UTC)
FIRST! XD
kagemihari - shadow watcher: je kat-tun - akame whiteflamesword on May 16th, 2008 07:04 am (UTC)
Awwwwwwww. ;.; I hope they found each other again. ♥
sumomo_yukisumomo_yuki on May 16th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC)
T_T.... it's so sad... -sighs- even as i watch heyheyhey i can't smile... it's too sad..
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry :(, but at least they had some time together...
claricexshinystars on May 16th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC)
Somehow I remember you ro someone else mentioning this prompt. But it broke my heart. It's so sad. ):

But of course, really nicely written!
clarice: akame // eh?xshinystars on May 16th, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)
But somehow I don't think it was at that meme. I'm sorry, I'm being weird. D:
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Don't think I mentioned it to anyone else, so beats me. Thanks though!
♥ ミズノ ヒヵル ♥mizuno_hikaru on May 16th, 2008 07:46 am (UTC)
huhhuuhuhhuu
(TT^TT)

OMG this is so sad
*sob*
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:43 pm (UTC)
Sorry, it's just how it ended up :(.
twixsterria on May 16th, 2008 07:57 am (UTC)
ohman, that was sad. T_____T

orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:44 pm (UTC)
You hurt the ones you love ;_;.
jajakiojajakio on May 16th, 2008 08:09 am (UTC)
so sad

sob my tears~~`

orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
Sorry...at least it's not as depressing as the original right? XD
jajakiojajakio on May 18th, 2008 11:50 am (UTC)
while i reading it, i was listening umi no ballad from remioromen

TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT________________TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT
teagoblinteagoblin on May 16th, 2008 08:13 am (UTC)
AWWWWWW I hope they found each other D:
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
they didn't You can make of the ending what you wish :).
(Deleted comment)
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:48 pm (UTC)
The devil made me do it T_T.
☆ CHIKA CHIKA CHEESECAKE ☆: ♥♥♥gingifere on May 16th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
This is wonderful. Really, really wonderful. And somewhat painful too. The knowledge that they can't be together but they're still willing to try. And what I really loved is how you didn't come out and tell us what happened to Kame and Jin but we sort of still know.

Just ahh. This left me feeling sort of achey but in a good way. Thank you for taking such a silly prompt and writing something so wonderful ♥
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 16th, 2008 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks ♥. Still not sure how it happened though...
goneonline123goneonline123 on May 17th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
Aww, that broke my heart. Yet it was so beautiful.

Ateast they found each other.
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 17th, 2008 08:28 am (UTC)
Thanks :(.
Matchy西matchynishi on May 17th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
it was so funny and fluffy and sweet and then-

oh my god why. ;_;
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 17th, 2008 08:38 am (UTC)
To lull you in to a false sense of security :O. Guess it worked!
Lark: empty heartdarkgloom on May 17th, 2008 06:28 am (UTC)
why can't they be together :( my heart ;_;
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 17th, 2008 08:30 am (UTC)
The world is a cruel place :( bricked.
Lark: yachiru artdarkgloom on May 17th, 2008 09:06 am (UTC)
You should write happy fic next. ;_;
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 17th, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
I'll try for sad fic, and maybe a happy one will pop out XD.
Lark: blue gokudarkgloom on May 17th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC)
You are so cruel. ;_;
(Anonymous) on May 17th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Such a sad fic. T_T But yeah, the original Andersen story ends even worse. >_<
Like your writing very much, your docile!Jin and hunter!Kame are nicely portrayed. ^^
My favorite scene was when they sit next to each other on their last day ... such a beautiful picture... ;_; And Otokoyama against their backs <3 XD
orange_smaugorange_smaug on May 18th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading :)!