Hooked!

by hakugei (白鯨)

(mirrors http://s2b2.livejournal.com/238211.html)

“Wake up! Wake up!” An all-too-familiar voice screeched into Shizuka’s ear. “It’s your big day!”

“I hate you,” he mumbled into the blankets, trying to retreat under his pillow. “Go away, Mika.”

“No sleeping in today,” his sister sang as she mercilessly yanked off his covers. “You can’t be late for the ceremony.”

He groaned, knowing resistance was futile but not wanting to haul himself out of bed yet.

Mika stole his pillow and started beating him with it, cackling as he curled into a defensive ball. She’d never stopped being gleeful to have somebody younger to pick on, even after her six-year advantage shrank when he hit his growth spurt.

“All right, all right, I’ll get up,” Shizuka sighed, finally opening his eyes.

Mika was hovering over him, waiting for an excuse to bring the pillow down again. Her eyes were bright and her smile stretched from ear to ear, like she was still a kid and not staring down her third decade. “Happy birthday.”

“Your present sucks.” He sat up, patting his head to try to control the way his hair stuck out before giving it up as a lost cause. As much as he’d been resigned to his twenty-first birthday’s sucking, he’d still hoped to wake up and find things had changed.

“Don’t blame me,” she said as she tossed the pillow onto the bed. “Aoi is the one who told me to be sure you didn’t sleep the day away. You’ve got a lot you need to do.”

Shizuka grunted, yawned and slipped a hand into his yukata to scratch his belly. He scooted to the edge of the bed and tried to force the sleep from his body. “Yeah, yeah.”

“Come on, be more excited,” she said as she jabbed him with her bony fingers, plopping down on the bed beside him. “It’s not every day somebody gets to participate in the ring drop.”

What she really meant was, it wasn’t everyday a royal was so unlucky to not already be married by their twenty-first birthday, but he wasn’t in the mood for arguing. It wasn’t his fault he had so many older sisters who’d already gotten married. He didn’t want to get married anyway. It was just a stupid tradition.

“I don’t feel very special,” he grumbled as he shuffled over to the pitcher of water and bowl on the table. He splashed his face with water more forcefully than he’d meant to.

Sensing his bad mood, Mika huffed, “Fine. I’ll leave you to get dressed. Make sure you look your best, everyone will be watching you!”

Ugh. He trudged through his room to grab the slate-blue kimono, dark grey hakama and black haori where they’d been airing out. Even after two tries he was sure his obi was still crooked. Sliding the haori over his shoulders he decided he’d done enough. It wasn’t like he was actually going to get married today.

*

Shizuka peeked out at the crowd in despair. “There are so many people. And they’re all staring.”

“That’s the entire point of a ceremony, idiot,” Mika whispered under her breath. “Don’t be so self-conscious; what kind of prince are you?”

“Cut down the chatter.” Aoi, his oldest sister and the next in line to rule, glided over. She always loved being bossy and somehow she always looked unruffled and perfect while she did it, even though she was starting to pregnant-waddle. “This is an important day for all of us.”

Shizuka silently took his place in line—King Hiroshi, his father; Queen Ruka, his mother; Aoi and her husband from one of the distant islands; emissaries to represent his absent sisters who were too busy doing important things in their new homes for some outdated ceremony; Mika and a spear to represent her husband still at sea; then last and very least, Shizuka.

The procession was a stream of faces and cheering by people he’d never met or barely interacted with. Most of the commoners didn’t have a clue what the ring drop was; they just knew it was an excuse to party. It was all very loud and noisy and horrible, so he spent the entire time staring at the back of Mika’s head trying to figure out how she’d got all her hair pinned up like that.

All too soon they reached the longest, most ornate pier. His family stopped at the beginning of it—the rest of the way he had to walk alone. In silence. Shizuka wasn’t especially fond of this symbolism as he felt all the eyes on him. It felt like he spent another twenty-one years walking to the end of the pier. The water was deepest here, a solid, beautiful blue; he wondered how much trouble he’d cause if he just jumped in.

The priest, back by Shizuka’s family, started to drone on about the history of the ceremony, the legend of King Tensui and his Sea Queen Minami, the first rulers of Mizukuni. Years ago, when Mizukuni was first formed, King Tensui had faced many troubles. The seas were rough, the fish were few, the people were restless, and raiders stole what little they had. In desperation King Tensui begged the sea for mercy, offering the most binding contract he knew—marriage—in return for the safety of his people on the water. He threw a ring into the ocean and much to his surprise at the next high tide a beautiful mermaid came to accept his offer. They married, had lots of kids, reigned in peace and harmony, and so on and and so forth.

It was a tidy little legend that gave them a myth and tradition like all the other countries, nothing more.

There was a large figurehead of the beautiful mermaid Minami at the end of the pier. She held a long spear in one hand, gesturing to the ocean as if it were under her command. Wound around the spear was fishing line so fine Shizuka had to spend a few embarrassing moments feeling for it. When he looked at it more closely it didn’t look like normal fishing line, but black hair. Weird. He traced it down to find the oversized hook hidden in her wooden hair. He pulled off the ring (simple gold, no relics for the lastborn) and slipped it over the hook, adjusting fiddly parts Shizuka didn’t know the names of to ensure it would stay on. Uncoiling the string its full length, he took the end in hand and tried to remember his lines.

“I,” he cleared his throat, tried again a bit louder. He could feel the daggers Aoi was glaring at him. “I, Amasaki Shizuka of Mizukuni, call upon the gracious sea gods. I beseech them in the name of our ancient treaty. I am of age and yet unwed. Should it be your divine desire to renew our pact once more with the holy bonds of matrimony, let my,” shit, what came next? Oh well. It’s not like anyone but his mother would know he screwed up, anyway. “My partner take this ring as a sign of our commitment to the pact between my blood and the sea. Whoever wears this ring shall be determined, by your will, to be with me for the rest of my days. For twelve hours I will honor you; at the next high tide I most humbly await your answer.” Shizuka pricked his finger on the hook, smeared a few drops of blood over the metal, and threw it as far as he could.

That was the most he’d ever said in front of an audience in his entire life and it was a load of shit. Why were they cheering? What a joke, asking the sea to fix up his marital problems. What was he going to do, marry a fish? A crab? An eel? Whatever was at the end of the hook? At least that meant he’d be able to get out of marrying entirely after the whole nonsense was over. He could eat whatever latched on and be done with it.

He could hear the crowd start to filter out, though he wasn’t allowed to turn and look. Now he had twelve hours of peace and quiet to contemplate the sea. Joy.

*

Staring at the water got him thinking about what kind of person he could imagine himself marrying. Looks, personality: it was all a big blank. All he could think of was “not like my sister’s husbands” (all of them were stuffy except Mika’s, who was a sailor and therefore barely around), somebody his age (Shiori was ten years younger than her husband and they just looked weird), and “not boring.” Not much to go on.

“I can’t wait until this is over,” he sighed, wishing that fasting hadn’t been a part of the ceremony.

*

The sun had started to set by the next high tide. It would’ve been pretty if Shizuka weren’t sick of staring at the sea. All the commoners meandered back, murmuring excitedly, but Shizuka knew the real excitement would be the fallout of an empty fishhook. Maybe his family should’ve bribed some girl to swim down and grab the ring so he wouldn’t be embarrassed. Maybe this was their ploy to get somebody to pity him enough to marry him.

At least the tent at the end of the pier had closed him off from view. Nobody would have to watch him be embarrassed when he pulled in nothing. After the priest gave another long speech it was Shizuka’s turn once more. He pulled the spear/fishing-rod contraption out of the figurehead’s grip and congratulated himself on not dropping it. With a sigh he pulled on the line to reel it in.

Something pulled back, hard. Shizuka had to scramble to pull the line against whatever snagged the end. At this rate the ring would run out to sea! Shit shit shit. “Oh, no you don’t!”

There was no reel. He needed something—aha, the hand. He gave a tug, enough to get slack on the line to start wrapping it around her wrist. The fish changed course, darting sideways to try and run away again. It took some doing but he managed to reel it in a bit closer and forced it to try the other side.

“Gotcha,” he said too soon, because suddenly the fish made another run out toward the sea. Shizuka had no idea what kept the line from breaking but quick, fast tugs cut out all the slack. The process repeated as he reeled it in, reminding Shizuka why he hated fishing. This was way too much work. Whatever this thing was it had better be delicious and not have swallowed the ring already.

As he wrapped up the last bit of the line, the tension disappeared. “Shit!” Shizuka threw himself down, peering into the water in hopes he could spot the stupid thing that just ate his ring.

A hand rose out of the water just in front of his nose. A hand that held his fish hook. A hand wearing his ring holding a fish hook. A blue hand. With scales and webbing.

It took a lot of effort not to scream. Shizuka knew he’d look back on this moment and be very, very proud he didn’t scream. What came out was more a high-pitched whine and he could live with that.

Now there was a face. A smiling face. A distinctly fishy face, with the completely black eyes and the barely-there nose and the black fins instead of hair or ears and the skin that transitioned between slate blue and olive green.

Shizuka had a strong suspicion he was making his own fish face at the moment but considering the only person who was able to see it really didn’t have any room to talk, he could deal. He could deal with this. Maybe. Eventually. When his mind stopped screaming OH FUCK IT’S A FISHMAN.

“Found something of yours,” the fishman said. (Fishperson? The voice was rather unclear— FUCK IT JUST TALKED.) The black-green-blue look was actually kind of pretty. For a fish. A talking fish. “Thought you’d want it back. You gave me a good fight for it.” Was this flirting? It might have been flirting. It would be much easier if people announced such things. Was a fish flirting with him?

“Buh.” The epitome of wit, he was. He saw the impossible and said “buh.” Great.

The fishperson laughed, revealing many teeth. Very sharp teeth. Sharp teeth right by his face. “I like you.”

Shizuka tumbled back onto the dock, holding himself up by his elbows, and stared as the fish-thing hoisted itself onto the deck with one powerful burst. Yep. That was very definitely a fish, from the webbed hands and fins all over to the gills and huge tail. Fish. He took a long look, noticed the black diamond pattern by the tail that faded out about where knees should be, the way the back and head were greener and the front and tail were bluer, the slim, muscular arms, and because he couldn’t help but look the lack of tits or dick or anything else that gave him a clue about the fish’s gender. The fish-person flopped its tail onto the deck and Shizuka realized of course it didn’t have tits or a dick hanging out, this was a fish.

“You’re very quiet,” the fish said, looking at Shizuka with its head tilted to the side. “But I guess you must be with a name like Shizuka.” The big, black eyes leaned in close. “You are Shizuka, right?”

“Buh,” Shizuka said again, unable to work past all the mental screaming just yet. He rallied his remaining sanity to try to make words. “I mean, yes. That’s me. Shizuka.”

“You forgot the kiss.”

“What?” he said because his head exploded at the word kiss coming from a fish.

The fishperson tsked, “To activate the magic! I can’t go much further like this, can I?”

As everything was insane he looked at the source in an attempt for help. Which was a mistake, because then the fish leaned over him big and scaly and wet where it grabbed Shizuka’s face and—

As first kisses went, it was horrible. Absolutely horrible. Shizuka had never imagined kissing a fish, but he was sure it would be a lot like this. It certainly tasted about the same. There were no tongues involved and Shizuka didn’t really do much but lie there like a well-dressed piece of driftwood, but a kiss was a kiss, and his first ever was with a fish.

Maybe he should throw himself off the pier and hope for the best. But knowing his luck the fish would save his life and oh, wait, things were sparkling? Shizuka stared at the fish-thing, because he couldn’t figure out how to move and something was happening.

A pinkish blush started on the fish-cheeks; scales flaked off and disappeared in a wink of light as the fish skin gave way to something recognizably human, if a bit greener than usual. The webbing and fins vanished, left long nails and a tangle of black hair and then there were legs, one knee fitted between his thighs and whoa that was definitely a—

The fish was a man. A human. A very male-bodied, very naked human was laying all over him. “Um,” he said, because his mother had not covered this in that hideously embarrassing talk when he was fourteen and he could really use some time to adjust to all this before interacting with the world. (He was pretty sure they weren’t supposed to have sex right there. Surely somebody would’ve mentioned that part.)

Apparently the fish-man-whatever had a better idea of what to do, because he looked down at Shizuka and smiled again. (The teeth were the same, white and sharp, and Shizuka thought there is no way I’m putting my tongue in there.) Or maybe the no-longer-a-fishperson had heard Shizuka’s mental desperation, because he tried to move back but his legs went weird places and he was windmilling his arms and of course, he didn’t know how to use his new legs.

So Shizuka helped him stand up with far more touching than strictly necessary and noticed they were the same height when it hit him he was standing next to his sea-bride; he was supposed to marry a fish-turned-human. Was already married? That seemed awfully fast. He’d asked the sea for a bride and they sent him a groom. This was the worst birthday ever.

Then he remembered he was standing in a tent at the end of a pier and everyone was waiting for him to come out, and he contemplated throwing himself off the pier again. The fish seemed to notice the sounds of other people now too, because he started wobbling forward. “Oh, we should go greet everyone.”

“You,” Shizuka blurted, wondering what he did to deserve all this. “You can’t go out like that.”

The fishman (not a merman, there must be some other explanation) frowned, looked at all of Shizuka’s layers and his own naked body. “Oh, I forgot.”

“You forg– AUGH!” Shizuka stripped off his haori and handed it to the the—wait, he didn’t even know the fish’s name. “Ok. Let’s start over. I’m Shizuka. I threw that ring into the ocean because my parents thought it would be a good idea to follow some crazy legend.”

“I’m Kisui, your husband. You called me here with your ring.” He gave a little wave, and it was actually kind of cute until Shizuka remembered the fish thing.

“You’re a guy?” Shizuka asked, because maybe things were different for fishes. He really didn’t know.

Kisui figured out how to get his arms through the sleeves and put on the haori. It almost looked more indecent than when he was naked, having it hang open like that. Or maybe it was the combination of pale blueish skin, black hair and black haori. “I think so,” Kisui pondered. “I’m a bit new to having a body but I am male.” He didn’t sound especially sure of that but they’d table it for now. Kisui glanced down at where his definitely-not-fishbits hung out between the folds of fabric, intrigued.

“Right.” Panic was for later, panic was for after he got Kisui somewhere private where they could have a very long talk and a very quick divorce. For now he adjusted the haori to cover the very-much-still-there dick of his future ex-husband and grabbed a tassel from the tent to tie it closed (carefully avoiding the very-much-still-there dick of his future ex-husband because this was really not the time to get acquainted). It would have to do for now. Maybe he should wrap the entire tent around Kisui because that was a lot of leg, wow. Wow. Since when did men have legs like that? For that matter, since when did fish?

This was going to give him such a headache.

Apparently Kisui was immune, because he was smiling again. Shizuka had to wrap an arm around him to prevent an untimely return to his native element since he didn’t have his land legs yet. They probably looked the picture of a couple. Shizuka could imagine Mika’s cackling already.

*

They walked out to a wall of noise. Clapping and shouting and gasps and Shizuka would have very much liked to crawl into bed and never get out again. This was awful. And Kisui was loving it. He was smiling, waving, getting very close to indecent exposure. (Shizuka really should have wrapped him in the tent.) “Look at your family’s faces,” Kisui whispered. “I think they’re surprised to see me.”

Shizuka had been too afraid to, but now he was too curious. He looked. Kisui must secretly have been evil, because his family looked varying degrees of flabbergasted and horrified while trying desperately to hide it. It was hilarious. Shizuka started laughing, unable to help himself. He threw some metal into the ocean and now he was married to a fishman. A fishman with a sense of humor!

Kisui leaned close to Shizuka’s ear. “Does your father always look so grumpy?”

“Always,” Shizuka whispered back, the press of people melting away as he listened to Kisui’s comments instead of whatever the priest was saying. (It was his role as a dutiful husband, after all.)

Kisui kept the running commentary the entire way back to the castle, somehow turning the town Shizuka had lived in his entire life something novel. Focusing on Kisui instead of the congratulatory crowd made the trip seem much shorter, too.

The castle wasn’t all that impressive. It was bigger than any of the other buildings and made of stone instead of wood, but that was about it. Legend claimed Sea Queen Minami had it built by her sea-god kin but Shizuka had always thought it looked too ugly to be made by divine hands.

Now that he’d seen Kisui’s fish form, maybe it wasn’t such a far out idea after all.

*

King Hiroshi looked like he was building up to a royal temper. “WHAT IN–”

His mother gave his father a look, thankfully shutting him up. “Shizuka darling, why don’t you introduce us?” She was all smiles, light voice and snapped syllables.

Kisui stepped forward and bowed so gracefully Shizuka wondered if he faked the trouble he’d had walking earlier. “I am greatly honored to meet the family of my betrothed. We are pleased you honor our ancient pact—many had thought you’d forgotten.” Kisui smiled wide and Shizuka thought of sharks. Very polite sharks. “I was selected as the one most suitable for your son by the wisdom of the deep. I look forward to becoming acquainted with Shizuka, but I am unaccustomed to your ways; I ask for your guidance in being a proper son-in-law.”

His father was glaring like it was Shizuka’s fault this happened. Mika looked like she was going to burst out laughing any second. Aoi was in a heated whispered conference with her husband and his mother was still smiling but obviously thinking about something.

“The honor is ours. Please guide us in our lack of knowledge of your people,” Queen Ruka said as if everyone else wasn’t falling over themselves in shock. They were all sure to yell at him about this later, but Kisui got their polite face. “I must say, we had no idea what to expect. It’s been so long since any of your people have been in contact with us.”

“Indeed, it has been quite some time.” Kisui said with just enough bite to make it clear who he viewed as in the wrong.

“Would you like a change of clothing?” Aoi smoothly interjected. Good save, sis. “Our apologies that we did not have something more appropriate available at the dock.” A nice way of saying “nobody expected you to show up.” How did his sister and mother do that?

“I enjoyed wearing something of Shizuka’s. It was no trouble at all.” And there he went, saying Shizuka’s name like they’d known each other for years. He hadn’t realized how embarrassing it was until Kisui did it front of his family. But it shouldn’t be embarrassing. They were married now, so it was ok. Right? “But if it is not acceptable for your dinner customs I will certainly change.”

“We only want you to be more comfortable. Would you like a bath, perhaps? Please, at the very least allow Shizuka to loan you a drier set of clothing.” Wow, his mother made “go away so we can freak out in private” sound so polite. Aoi had pulled aside a servant, probably to tell the cook they needed to step up the family dinner from their usual affair to something worthy of Shizuka’s sea-god husband.

“Clothes are enough for now, thank you,” Kisui said with another shark smile. He looked awfully well put together for something Shizuka literally fished out of the sea.

It took a few moments of silence and Mika’s sharp jab to his kidneys for Shizuka to realize he was supposed to go take Kisui to his room. “Um, it’s um, this way,” he said as he coughed from the blow.

Something brushed his fingers. Shizuka jerked back in a full-body twitch before he realized it was a hand. Kisui’s hand. Kisui was holding his hand, and had this close-mouthed not-scary smile that seemed to be all eyes, and it was—

“Shizuka,” his mother said in the same warning tone from his childhood that meant punishment was imminent.

Shizuka gave up on holding onto any dignity at all and bolted away. When Kisui almost tripped as they rounded the corner Shizuka forced himself to slow down. Princely, he was a prince; he should act like it. Less tripping, more grace.

Kisui hadn’t let go of his hand. Despite their similar heights Kisui had bonier, longer-fingered hands, made even longer by his nails. The skin was rougher, colder, (greener) than his. Without the ingrained memories of a lifetime living here Shizuka would’ve run into the walls from the distraction. He knew he should give a tour or something but all his words vanished under their soft footsteps and the pounding of his heart.

Apparently silence wasn’t an option. “This place is very different from the rest of the city.” Kisui ran a hand along the stone walls.

“It’s older than everything else. Legend says—” Oh, awkward, talking about legends with a legend. “Legend says the sea gods built it for King Tensui.”

“A lie.” Kisui’s voice gave no room for argument. There was something complex in his face but Shizuka had no idea how to read him. “We didn’t built this. Other humans did.”

“Other humans? That’s impossible, King Tensui found this isl—”

Kisui cut in, “So say the legends of your people.”

Oh. He’d never thought of that. “Sorry.” While he wasn’t sure why exactly he was saying it, it felt like the right thing to say. Or perhaps the only thing he knew to say.

Kisui shook his head, pulled his hand off the stone. “Let’s keep walking.”

Shizuka thought he’d screwed up, but when he glanced back at Kisui there was a soft smile waiting for him. The anger was gone and the old tension was reasserting itself. They arrived at the room far too soon.

“Here we are,” Shizuka waved vaguely with his free hand. “My room.”

“Oh, already?” Kisui’s hand slid more firmly into his grip, long thumbnail trailing against the tendons of his wrist. “Are you going to show me around?” The nail trailed up and down, distracting him from Kisui’s smile. It occurred to him that they were alone. Alone, him and all that leg. Fish legs. Kisui would have to take things off to change. Not good. Really not good. There were only so many times Shizuka could handle dicks in a day.

“There’s not really much to show. So…” Shizuka released Kisui’s hand and gently pushed him inside by his nice, neutral shoulders. “I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Kisui wriggled like an eel (or a fish) and pulled on Shizuka’s sleeves. “I’ll need your help,” he cajoled. “This is all very new to me.”

“Um.” Shizuka was not having a good day for words. “Okay.” Not a good day for willpower, either. To be fair Kisui was unusually distracting.

Shizuka’s room had always been sparse. It had never bothered him much before, but for some reason showing such a barren space to Kisui was embarrassing, maybe even depressing. Bed, cabinet, windows, table, and a folding screen with an ugly carp did not make for anything impressive. He didn’t even have calligraphy good enough to show off. Some catch he was.

Kisui slipped away, slowly turning around to survey the room. “Oh, there’s so much space.”

Well. Maybe it wouldn’t be empty much longer. It was their room now.

Shizuka stopped that line of thought before it grew too ridiculous. Kisui needed clothes and Shizuka wasn’t going to take any longer than necessary no matter what his parents wanted. Time to get Kisui dressed and get the hell back there. He decided to forgo getting Kisui into hakama and opted for his second-nicest kimono, the one with the leaping fish patterns. Surely somebody would appreciate his apt symbolism.

He turned around and Kisui was naked. Completely naked. Shizuka had seen plenty of naked men before but somehow Kisui seemed extra naked, standing there in bare feet with Shizuka’s haori a black lump on the floor and finger-combing his hair and casually staring at his dick like it was fascinating. Or maybe it was for fishpeople. This was really too complicated. (But not too complicated for Shizuka’s own dick, which informed him of its approval.)

Shizuka held up the kimono like a shield. “Here.”

Despite Shizuka’s anticipation of a huge, awkward ordeal, Kisui had no problems putting it on and the obi tied correctly on the first try. It felt rather anticlimactic. Shizuka wondered why he was disappointed then decided it was best to just not think about it.

“Shall we head back?” he asked as he smoothed nonexistent creases from Kisui’s shoulder.

Kisui darted in to kiss him on the cheek. “Let’s go.”

With any luck his face would stop burning by the time they got back to the table. There’s no telling what Mika would think they had been up to.

*

Shizuka wondered if he could preemptively forget about the banquet. Every step closer made him want to curl into a ball in some nice, dark corner where there were no teasing sisters and mothers with disapproving eyebrows. He’d grabbed Kisui’s hand again because it made him feel better—he didn’t want to think about why, he just wanted the cool solidity. He could get used to this having somebody else there thing.

“It’ll be alright,” Kisui whispered as they stood in front of the dining room door. He was smiling like Shizuka wasn’t an embarrassing nervous wreck of a man. “I’ll handle it.”

“Right.” One breath, one more, and he walked in.

Instead of his usual place at the far side of the table, the two spaces at his father’s right hand were empty. His family was already seated, sipping tea like it was any other day they all wore their best clothes and Shizuka got married.

Queen Ruka nodded in acknowledgement. “So glad you two could finally join us.”

Mika beamed at the sight of their joined hands. “Well, what a happy couple you are. Looks like you didn’t last very long there, baby brother.”

There was a moment of stunned silence and the quiet laugher of Aoi’s husband. Shizuka’s father looked like he wanted to say something but didn’t dare with the looks Ruka and Aoi were giving him.

“Our time limit is not nearly so stringent,” Kisui said with a smile like it was perfectly normal to ask if somebody had just had a quickie. Maybe it was, with fish-gods.

Shizuka froze. “Time limit?” He could feel the heat of his mother’s gaze landing on him.

“What do you mean?” she inquired, smiling without meaning it.

“Perhaps you didn’t know? The passage about consummating the union seems to have been lost to time. You didn’t mention it in the ceremony.”

Oh shit. The parts he forgot. This wasn’t good. He closed his eyes but he still felt the accusing eyes of his entire family.

“We apologize for the omission,” Hiroshi grumbled. “If there’s been any misunderstanding—”

Kisui shook his head and smiled. “I’ll discuss it with Shizuka later.”

“Whatever it is, I’m sure he can accommodate you.” The more polite his mother was the more Shizuka wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.

Other words and food that was surely supposed to be delicious followed, but Shizuka didn’t pay attention to any of it. Whatever Kisui had to say to him, it couldn’t be good.

*

Unfortunately, King Hiroshi pulled Shizuka back as Mika led Kisui off to show him where the bath house was.

“Shizuka,” his father said as he put a hand on Shizuka’s shoulder. “My boy,” he shook his head, “I thought I’d raised you better than this.”

Oh, no. No no no. This was not good. Play dumb, play dumb! “What?”

This made his dad sigh even harder, his whole body slumped as his breath seeped out. “Shizuka, why are you doing this? Couldn’t you have told me?”

This was not the conversation Shizuka thought they were having. “Father?”

His other hand rested heavily on Shizuka’s shoulders. Hiroshi looked up, sadness in every line of his face not covered by beard. “Why did you have to make such an elaborate ruse?”

“I don—”

“You could have told me you liked men!” Hiroshi bellowed. “We could have worked something out. I hear Akira’s daughter likes women; we could have made an arrangement. But this!”

“It’s not—”

“Oh, say no more, son. You don’t have to hide from your father. This is a man-to-man conversation. No secrets here.” He nodded, so earnest Shizuka wondered if the truth would be more damaging than whatever his father was convinced was the truth. “You didn’t need to go to such lengths to pretend your lover is a merman.”

There followed a very long silence where his father shed manly tears and Shizuka tried to wrap his mind around what was just said. Eventually he said “Buh” because that was his go-to phrase for everything involving Kisui.

“I will admit, it’s a brilliant plan. You’re more cunning than I’d thought! Now everyone will have to accept him. A stroke of genius.”

This was so horribly, horribly wrong. “Father…”

Hiroshi started shaking him, almost wailing. “I’m the one to blame. I must not have been a proper role model. I should have been there for you!”

Shizuka desperately wished the floor would swallow him up. He had to stop this before things get even weirder. “It’s alright. Really, it’s—”

“I’ve failed as a father! Not only did I force you into the arms of men, I forced you to hide it as well!” His father pulled him into what would be a hug, if hugs were actively trying to crush people. “Forgive me, my son! I accept you! I swear I’ll do my best to support you from now on!”

Somewhere inside all this weirdness was the most honest, touching conversation he’d ever had with his father. Which was probably saying something, many somethings, about what a fucked-up family they were. “There’s nothing to forgive. You’re a good father,” he said, because he had no idea what else to say.

His dad started vigorously thumping his back, shouting, “My son!” at random intervals. Shizuka was very, very glad they were alone for this.

In a strange way, it was kind of nice. (Sort of. He could already see his father asking if he was sure he didn’t like women, because his father couldn’t comprehend why someone might not be so big on women despite having raised so many scary, scary daughters.)

His father was still hugging him. Maybe if he thought their manly commune was done he’d let go. “It’s alright, father. Thank you for supporting me.”

“I’m proud of you, my boy. You really are clever, to try to pull something like that over on your old man. Your mother may buy it, but I know the truth. It’s better if she thinks that Kisui really is a merman.”

Shizuka nodded, because that seemed like the best thing to do. He’d deal with his father finding out the truth later, much later. He was at his hugging-and-manly-tears limit.

*

When his father left Shizuka thought he’d been let off the hook. But as soon as he turned the corner, his mother and Aoi were waiting for him.

She was smiling. His mother smiling was not a good sign. “Shizuka. We must discuss something before you attend to Kisui.”

Aoi moved to help herd him into the corner. (They’d come up with this tactic years ago when Shizuka started bolting anytime his mother wanted to talk. Aoi would probably still be able to run him down even when she was further along her pregnancy.)

He nodded. Talking wasn’t necessary on his part. This wasn’t a discussion, it was an ultimatum.

“The ring drop ceremony has bestowed upon you a great responsibility—one I never would have foreseen before this day.”

Translation: I never thought you’d amount to anything. Thanks, Mom.

“Your actions reflect upon the rest of us. Nothing is more vital than the sea—to us, and to our people. As part of the royal line it is your duty to protect it.” She began to pace in slow, measured steps, only bothering to look Shizuka’s way occasionally. “It is vital we maintain a beneficial relationship with the sea gods.”

“Of course, mother.”

“Do whatever you must to keep your husband happy. You must not disappoint him.” She reached out to grab his hands, nearly crushing them in her grip. “Shizuka, tell me you understand.”

This was almost as confusing as his conversation with his father. “I—”

“You are a handsome young man, Shizuka. You must capitalize on that.”

Wait, what?

“I shouldn’t have relied on your father to teach you. I assumed you’d discover everything you needed in your own time.” She released his hands and went back to pacing: step step step turn, step step step turn. “Of course Aoi and I will offer advice, but you at least have the advantage of being a man yourself. Surely sea gods won’t work so differently.”

Shizuka wondered if there was a way to die from embarrassment. Chances were he was about to find out.

His mother brushed her hair back behind her ear, elegant despite her nervousness. “Kisui is beautiful, and seems gentle. I’m sure things will go well if you try hard to please him.”

“Right.” Came his voice from somewhere very, very far away.

As if she sensed his need, she wrapped her arms around him in a hug. He couldn’t remember the last time they’d hugged like this. Today was a day for hugging, apparently. “Remember what he said. You don’t have long. You must do this, Shizuka. We do not want to incur their wrath.” Many horrifying visions of what wrath might entail filled his head. Shizuka gulped.

Aoi came up to hug him as well, ruffling his spiky hair. Things just kept getting weirder. “Don’t worry little brother. The first time is awkward for everyone. I’m sure you’ll manage.”

“We’ve arranged it so that you spend the next few days alone. You’ll have all the privacy you need.”

Queen Ruka pulled back a little. He’d forgotten what color her eyes were, so used to her sweeping gazes that never rested on him. They had the same eyes: rich brown with flecks of tan. There were words stuck in his throat, blocked by all the confusion, so he kept on staring.

In perfect sync his mother and sister released him and patted his shoulders. “You’ll be fine, Shizuka.”

“You’ll do us proud,” Aoi said as she turned to go.

His mother gave him a gentle shove in the direction of his room. “Hurry and attend to your husband. Be enthusiastic!”

Shizuka walked blindly forward. Did that really just happen?

*

Kisui was waiting outside his room (their room), slightly pinker from his bath.

It took every ounce of his mother’s warning not to run away in terror. Sex was one thing, but sex to make sure some divine fish entity didn’t get angry was something else entirely.

“Um,” he said as he looked at Kisui, gesturing for him to go inside, unsure how to proceed. “So. This is, this is the bed. There’s obviously, um, plenty of room for both of us.”

“Oh, beds. I’d heard about those.” Something about Kisui’s tone made it clear what kind of context he’d heard about beds in.

Shizuka felt his face grow hot. “Yeah. Beds. For um, sleeping.” Most of Shizuka’s thoughts right now were not about sleeping. “I guess gods don’t sleep much.”

Kisui laid down on the bed and rolled around like he had never touched anything before. (Maybe he hadn’t.) “We have no need to,” he said, voice muffled by the sheets and oh, wow that was bypassing Shizuka’s brain and headed somewhere else entirely. “It seems nice, if a bit boring. Having a body is very strange.” He yawned like a cat, displaying all his teeth. It was very distracting. “Are we going to sleep now?”

“We can if you want to. I mean, it’s late enough. And we’re, um, here.” His heart was rattling his ribs from the force of its beats. Wait a second, what had Kisui said? “You’ve never had a body before?”

“As a god I had no need for one,” Kisui ran his hands over the sheets. “But I needed one so I could take human form. This one was created from a kappore who volunteered, as I did, to change.”

Of course, the diamond tail pattern! “So you’re part black jack fish?”

“In a way.”

Well. Wow, well. Wow. He sat down on the bed, still reeling. What could he say to that? “So you were—you changed for me?” Saying ‘born for me’ was just creepy, so Shizuka wasn’t going to think about that.

“Not just for you. I admit I was selfish in this; I wanted a body. I wanted to see what it was like to be so contained. I wanted to touch.” Kisui ran his hands over his face, his throat, his chest and Shizuka couldn’t help but stare. “To meet you and have a body, it was more than worth the price.”

That snapped Shizuka’s mind out of the gutter. “Price?”

“This body is mortal. I’ll return to the sea when my time here is done.”

The thudding of Shizuka’s heart turned painful. “So you die?”

“Possibly, I cannot be sure. But this is what I agreed to.” Kisui yawned again, like what he was saying was nothing of consequence. “The chance to experience all of this, even for only a few days, was worth it. No need to concern yourself.”

“But—the time limit, what if we—”

Kisui turned over to look Shizuka in the eye, his yukata pulling loose to let his collarbones peek out and his hair splayed all over like dark seaweed. In the dim light Kisui’s eyes looked bottomless. “Shizuka. I don’t want you to feel forced to do anything. The two-day time limit was set long ago, according to what we understood of your human standards. If you refuse I will talk to the others first and try to convince them to not harm you or your people.”

Oh. So maybe there wouldn’t be death and destruction if he refused to have sex, but Kisui would definitely go away for good. Things would return to normal. For some reason, that didn’t make him feel any better. “Um, I should get ready. Change and, and cleaning. Type things.” Shizuka looked at Kisui. Curled under the covers, Kisui didn’t look like a sea god or fishman or whatever he was.

Shizuka couldn’t do this. How was he supposed to handle all of this?

What kind of asshole am I? Shizuka berated himself as he fled behind the folding screen to change. Now was no time to run away and be a coward. Who knew about having sex, but he was Kisui’s husband—for two more days at least—and he was not going to be a bad one. This was huge for both of them. They were in this thing together.

Shizuka finished tying the obi on his yukata and nodded. Kisui shouldn’t be the one always reassuring him—Shizuka had to step up. With his head high and his terror in check he walked around the screen, extinguished the lamp, and strode over to the bed. He knelt down and crawled over to where Kisui had burrowed under the blankets.

“Hmm?” Kisui turned over to look at him with those dark, strange eyes half-lidded with sleep.

“I want to try something. Not, not that but something, um, else. Involving touching. I’ve not done it before but I’ve heard it’s nice.” He gulped. “If that’s okay.”

A hand emerged from under the covers to lift them up. That looked like a yes.

It was so warm. He slid in just behind Kisui, scooting his body close, closer until his front was pressed to Kisui’s side. “I’m going to um, put my arm around you. If that’s ok.”

Kisui rolled over so their faces were only inches apart on the pillow. They could kiss with just a little movement of Shizuka’s head. Slowly, expecting a protest any moment, he pressed his lips against Kisui’s cheek. Just as slowly he put his hand on Kisui’s arm.

They stared at each other for a few moments, until Shizuka’s arm started to tingle. “Um, I think we have to move for this to work.”

After some jostling, elbowing, and a whole lot of awkwardness, Kisui turned over and Shizuka tucked in behind him, hand on Kisui’s waist. They weren’t pressing together, but it was close. Very close. With his nose in Kisui’s hair he could faintly smell the ocean under the soap.

“Good?”

Kisui pressed just a little closer, so Kisui’s back just touched Shizuka’s chest. Shizuka could feel him sigh, long and low. “This is nice.”

“Yeah,” Shizuka agreed as he drifted off to sleep.

*

Much to his relief, Shizuka didn’t wake up with anything more embarrassing than a bit of drool on the pillow. They’d shifted positions but not to anything compromising. So far, so good. He got up to stretch, careful not to wake Kisui. One deep inhale and he realized what had woken him up—somebody had delivered breakfast. His mother really wasn’t kidding about leaving them alone (though he was sure whoever delivered it would tell her exactly how they’d been found).

Might as well take advantage of it. “Kisui? There’s food.” There was a twitch from under the covers. “Kisui?”

“It’s soft here,” he groaned. “Come back to bed.”

“I’m too hungry to sleep.”

That woke Kisui enough to grunt, but not enough to move. His face was almost entirely buried under the covers.

It was cute. Adorable, even. Shizuka tugged the blanket down a little more. He’d never seen a sleepy fish before.

Kisui blinked three times, each a little faster than the last. “Food?”

“Yeah. My mother said we’d have the whole place to ourselves for a while. I don’t think we’ll see anyone else all day.”

That got him moving. Kisui sat up, stretched, and somehow snapped himself fully awake. Shizuka knew it was terribly soppy to compare Kisui’s brilliant smile to the morning sun but that didn’t stop it from feeling accurate. “Your family is very considerate.”

He shrugged. “I think it’s more they don’t know how to react to you.” There was no point in not being honest when it was just the two of them.

Kisui rose smoothly to his feet, body contorting with another stretch. “Are we really so strange to you?”

“You’re not like anyone I’ve met before.” (Which wasn’t saying much, given how Shizuka hadn’t met all that many people. He’d always been a homebody compared to his sisters.)

“Neither are you.” (Which was saying a lot, coming from a sea god.)

They sat down in front of the table and started to eat. Shizuka scooped the rice and fish with his hands so Kisui wouldn’t feel like he had to use chopsticks. (Kisui was surprisingly adept but given the volume of food he put away, Shizuka didn’t want to be eating all day.) The silence was easy, pleasant instead of strained. Intimate, even. Surely now would be the best time for any questions.

Shizuka asked around a mouthful of rice, “Is it normal for guys to get married where you’re from?”

Kisui looked confused. “It matters? I didn’t think of that. There were far more males than females in my school.”

School. Of fish. There was no getting around how Shizuka was married to a fish-god. “Did you, I mean, did you know me? Before?”

“Of course, you’re the prince of Mizukuni. We always keep an eye on your family. The whole point of the pact is to protect you.” Kisui placed his hand on the table so it just touched Shizuka’s.

Shizuka furrowed his eyebrows. “That doesn’t really answer my question.”

“I’m getting to that.” Kisui’s fingers brushed against his, smooth and cool, asking permission. “Any time you were in the water, we were there, watching. I was there.”

Any time?”

“I liked watching you.” The sides of Kisui’s mouth tilted downward. “Is that strange?”

“Everything about being a god is strange.” Shizuka laughed, but it died quickly. “Wait. So when I almost drowned when I was eight—” He’d blocked most of it, the memories had faded with time, but he remembered the way the current pulled his small body, dragged him under where nothing made sense and his throat burned from trying to breathe salt water. Shizuka laced their fingers together, deciding the reassuring solidity outweighed any embarrassment or food particles.

“I was the wave who picked you up and took you back to shore. We almost claimed you as our right because it had been so many years, but…” He squeezed Shizuka’s hand. “I wanted to see what kind of man you’d become.”

Not only was he married to a fishman-god-something, he was married to a fishman that’d saved his life. Shizuka wasn’t sure if he should be creeped out or grateful. Grateful seemed like the better option. “I’d thought,” he blushed at the memory of his insistence to his parents that he’d been rescued. “It had felt like the water was holding me.”

Kisui grinned. “You were so much smaller then. Short and chubby.”

Shizuka felt his face grow hotter. “That was a long time ago.”

“Yes. You’re very different now. Especially in body.” Kisui gave him a long, evaluating look that made Shizuka simultaneously want to cover up his body and be proud he was much fitter now.

It was then that Shizuka’s stomach took the moment to protest it hadn’t finished, saving him from having to come up with a response. They laughed and went back to eating in comfortable silence.

*

Well. Now they had a whole day together and he had no idea what to do with it. What do newlywed couples do anyway? Besides that. Shizuka wasn’t going to think about that for a bit—his mother wasn’t here to glare at him, he could put it off. Nothing wrong with putting it off a little longer.

As he sipped his lukewarm tea Kisui turned to look out the window for the third time. Shizuka wasn’t the smartest guy around but it didn’t take a genius to figure it out.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” He had no idea if this would help but hey, this was his husband. He had to try. “There’s a small section of beach at the back of the castle. Nobody but my family is allowed to go there.”

“That sounds wonderful.” Kisui stood, glancing down at his clothes. “Do I need to change again?”

“Nah. It’s just the two of us.” Shizuka couldn’t remember the last time he had gotten this much freedom and privacy. It was very, very weird. But good weird, for the most part. Too bad he could still imagine his mother breathing down his neck. Or Kisui turning into sea foam.

A green hand entered his vision. Kisui held it out, waiting. “Show me the way?”

“Um, sure.” Shizuka could get used to this hand-holding thing. It was nice.

They meandered through the castle, making the short trip take twice as long. The back door was a huge, solid piece of wood studded with metal built to withstand any attempts to break in. The door let out to cliff, a narrow staircase perilous for one person, never mind a battering ram, carved into the side. They didn’t have room to walk side-by-side, but Shizuka clutched Kisui’s hand the entire way down.

Kisui wiggled his bare feet in the white sand as he surveyed the smooth expanse of beach, the deep blue of the water. “Strange how different this is with feet.”

“Do you miss having fins?”

Turning around and laughing, Kisui slipped out of Shizuka’s grip and started running toward the rocky edge of the beach.

Shizuka ran after him, panting from the exertion, but almost tripped when he noticed Kisui was stripping as he ran. Shizuka watched in despair as yukata and obi fluttered by.

Kisui lept on the jagged rocks like they were smooth stepping stones until he was atop the tallest one, and dove into the water.

Surely being a god meant that Kisui couldn’t drown. There had to be some kind of rule against that. Shizuka sprinted the rest of the way to the edge of the water, peering for any sign of his husband.

A streak of olive-blue-black arced out of the ocean: once, twice, and Kisui emerged grinning from the spray, settling onto a rock Shizuka could reach without any death-defying leaps.

“You’re a fish again!” Prince Obvious, at your service.

“Of course. This is my true body; the other one is more for your convenience.”

My convenience?” There was something defeated in the slope of Kisui’s shoulders. “You aren’t talking about legs.”

Kisui glanced down at his body, curling in on himself. “Humans don’t like it when we look like this.”

Shizuka felt his stomach drop to somewhere by his feet. “Kisui, I—”

“You don’t need to appease my vanity, Shizuka.” He looked away to where the waves were rougher, crashing against the cliffside. “I won’t be here much longer anyway.”

This was where he was supposed to say something reassuring, where he told Shizuka he was ok with the fish thing, ok with everything.

He didn’t. Fear wrapped tight around his throat and wouldn’t let a single word out, guilt compounding in his belly like bile for each second of silence. Why couldn’t he say anything? He opened his mouth but nothing came out, his words drowned in some internal ocean.

Kisui’s fingers ran over his arms, absent-mindedly skimming up and down. In a couple of days he wouldn’t be able to do that anymore, his body and maybe whatever counted as a god’s soul lost forever.

In a couple of days Shizuka’s life would go on like none of this had ever happened.

Maybe his mouth was frozen, but his arms weren’t. Shizuka reached over to put his hand on Kisui’s back, but underestimated the distance.

With a yelp and pinwheeling limbs, Shizuka fell into the water.

He didn’t even have time to sink before two arms latched around him, holding him up. “Are you all right?” Kisui said into his ear over the water sloshing around their faces, steering Shizuka away from braining his head on the rocks.

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay.” The way Kisui was crushing his ribs, there was no way he was going to sink. “Just stupid.”

Although he couldn’t see it, he was sure Kisui made a my-husband-is-an-idiot face. “Since you’re already soaked, I want to show you something. Is that alright?”

“Um, okay.” Why the hell not? Nothing like avoiding the topic even more.

“Close your eyes and hold your nose.”

Shizuka took a deep breath and did as he was told. He felt the pull of the current and the rush of water past his ears, the increase of pressure as Kisui pulled them deeper and deeper. He could feel Kisui’s tail undulating behind him—it couldn’t have been easy with Shizuka creating so much drag.

By the time they started to rise Shizuka’s lungs were burning. The water flowed differently but Shizuka’s mind was too preoccupied to think about it. When they finally broke the surface Shizuka went limp, not caring that he was half in the water with his face smushed into rock.

Wait, rock?

Shizuka opened his eyes and saw nothing. Not even the tiniest hint of light. If it weren’t for Kisui’s arms still around him, he would’ve freaked out. “What?”

“We’re in a cave. Don’t worry. You’ll be able to see a little further in.” Kisui let Shizuka go and started slapping his hands into the floor and dragged his body across the ground.

It didn’t sound like a fun way to travel. “Should I um, change you back again?”

“It’s much faster than waiting to dry off,” Kisui admitted, “but I want you to see this first.”

Huh. This must be something, whatever it was.

After a minute of crawling in a wet yukata, Shizuka hoped it was worth it. At least it was all worn smooth by water. The cave started to widen out, a dim greenish-blue light visible up ahead. A few more feet and it opened up to a large, circular room with a depression in the middle, lit by an eerie glow.

“It’s—how is there light in here?”

“Look at the walls,” Kisui said as he flopped to the floor in exhaustion.

“It’s glowing! How, what is this place?”

Kisui touched the wall and the light intensified. “The moss that grows here glows. Some sea creatures are able to do the same.”

“This has been here the entire time?” To think, something this amazing had been right under their noses. Nobody had even heard of this place—how could they, with the cave opening deep underwater? Shizuka might be the first human to ever lay eyes on it. “Kisui, this is—”

His husband had stretched out on the bed of moss in the center of the room, smile small but genuine as he watched Shzuka’s reaction. “I’m glad you like it.”

Like it? Kisui, there’s nothing—” Shizuka stopped, so many thoughts bursting forth it clogged up his throat. But this time, he recovered. “I never could’ve imagined something like this, never would’ve seen this if it weren’t for you.”

Kisui was running his hands over the moss, each patch glowing a little brighter as he touched it. “I—”

“Sex.” Well that wasn’t what he’d meant to say.

Kisui glanced up, eyes wide. “Yes?”

“Yes. Sex.” This was so much harder than he thought it would be. “Yes, I mean. Sex. Let’s, um, have it. Do it?”

“You—” Kisui sat up with an awkward full-body flop. “You want me to stay?”

Shizuka looked at Kisui again. He was strange, yes. Inhuman, with his black eyes and blue-green skin practically glowing in this eerie light, his spiny fins and scales, the sharp angles of his jaw and cheeks and the soft bump of his barely-there nose (not to mention the undeniably fishy smell). But he was beautiful.

Shizuka’s knee caught in the sopping folds of his yukata as he tried to crawl forward. With a grunt of frustration he yanked at his obi until it loosened and scrambled out of the entire mess, crawling over to Kisui. It was more falling onto Kisui than an embrace, but he wrapped his arms around his husband and pressed his lips against the smooth, salty cheek.

In the dim light of the cave Kisui’s transformation seemed so much brighter. Shizuka felt the skin change from scaley to smooth under his hands, watched Kisui’s face soften.

Kisui beamed, dagger-like teeth gleaming as he grabbed Shizuka’s head and pulled him in for another kiss. Kisui licked until Shizuka opened his mouth and wow, so that’s why people always talked about kissing so much. Wow. He couldn’t reciprocate much without risking injury but he was ok with Kisui’s tongue in his mouth. More than okay.

Shizuka’s hair was just long enough for Kisui to grab and pull, which sounded like something uncomfortable but really wasn’t, because it meant Kisui was forcing his head back for neck-licking, and it turned out neck-licking was a very nice thing. Soon the neck-licking had turned to chest-licking and stomach-licking and was well on its way to oh.

Shizuka pulled Kisui back up. “I know you would never—um.” Shizuka looked again and winced. “But—.”

“My teeth?” Kisui’s tongue ran over his mouth-knives. It should not have been hot, but it was. Maybe they’d find a way to make that work. Maybe he could reciprocate. Kisui’s dick was very much there, brushing against Shizuka’s leg.

“Yeah.”

Kisui’s eyes swept over him, which was hot instead of embarrassing. “But anything else is acceptable?”

“Oh yeah, of course,” Shizuka said in a rush, not thinking about it because he’d much rather roll around naked instead of thinking. There was a lot of skin, and it was salty and naked and he wanted to touch it. Touching was nice and Kisui seemed to agree, given how very, very thoroughly he was exploring Shizuka.

When he felt Kisui’s claws trailing over the curve of his ass Shizuka realized he had not made that out of bounds. Did he want it to be out of bounds? Maybe there were specific rules about what counted as consummating.

“Anything?” Kisui whispered into Shizuka’s ear as he moved closer and closer to sensitive areas. Very sensitive areas, apparently.

His mind didn’t want to function so his mouth answered for him. “No claws.”

Kisui stared at his nails and they shrunk back until he’d declawed himself.

Shizuka wanted to spend a moment to be impressed but his dick was very insistent about getting touched soon. “Yeah, that’s good.” His mouth was still running away from him. “I don’t—I’ve never—”

“Lie back and hold your legs back by your knees.” Kisui kissed his mouth, his forehead. “I know what to do.”

Shizuka decided the sanest choice was accepting the knowledge without questioning its origins and did as Kisui asked. The moss was soft and dry, which was nice. Somehow he hadn’t really felt naked until he was holding his legs open and baring his ass. Kisui’s strange fish nudist tendencies must have gotten to him. “What now?”

“This may feel a bit strange,” Kisui warned as he crawled over Shizuka, supporting Shizuka’s ass with his thighs. There was a lot of touching, like he’d been surrounded by Kisui instead of the cave. Instead of feeling trapped it was kind of nice.

There was something slick. Very slick. Very slick and in a place he’d never thought would feel slick. “That—is that some kind of—aanh!” Oh, there was a finger in there and he’d had no idea it would feel so good. This definitely wasn’t normal. Was it? Oh fuck, Kisui had wrapped his other hand around Shizuka’s dick. It took way too much effort to finish the sentence. “Of sex magic?”

“Yes. It’s much easier this way. And more pleasurable for you.” Kisui added another finger. (Shizuka did not know how they were all fitting in there but he wasn’t about to complain.)

Whatever he was going to say next was lost to a lot of embarrassing, high-pitched noises. The perks of marrying a god.

Wait a minute.

“It won’t—this won’t make me pregnant, right?”

Kisui cocked his head to the side, brows furrowing. “Why would it make you pregnant?”

“I wasn’t sure if there was some kind of, of special fish thing.”

They silently stared at each other a few moments. Kisui spoke again, cautious. “Do you want to be pregnant?”

“No! Very much no!” Shizuka blurted as he waved his hands frantically, which made the fingers in his hole suddenly very, very present and wow, he should not wiggle so much right now. Or maybe he should.

“Would you rather had I chosen a seahorse for my body?” Kisui stopped moving his fingers.

“What? No! What does that have to do with anything? You’re, what you’ve got is um, good.” Wow he was terrible at compliments. “Very good?” That did not help.

Kisui’s eyes looked huge in the dark, bottomless. It should’ve been scary but it wasn’t, it was drowning in a good way. A sexy way? Maybe Shizuka should stop thinking when there were fingers pushing into his ass and other fingers trailing up and down his dick. He pulled his legs back further, feeling the burn and not giving one single fuck about it.

Kisui took the hint. The fingers that had been inside Shizuka’s ass disappeared. Something definitely not fingers pushed against Shizuka’s entrance.

“Shizuka,” Kisui said as he leaned down, bending close to Shizuka so they could look each other in the eye despite the dim light.

“Yes.” Maybe he was being obvious but Shizuka couldn’t think of anything better to say. That should cover everything pertinent.

Kisui pushed in. “Shizuka, Shizuka this is—” Kisui stared at him with wide eyes, putting his weight more and more heavily on the arm by Shizuka’s head. “This is how it always feels? It’s so—” He rocked his hips forward and gasped as he slid all the way in.

“I don’t know,” Shizuka groaned. “But I am very okay with finding out.”

Apparently even gods had their limits because Kisui didn’t move for what felt like an eternity. Every part of Shizuka’s body was screaming in a good way and he assumed that was why Kisui didn’t feel like moving. “Kisui,” he’d meant to say something more, something encouraging but his words blocked up again. Instead he put his hand on Kisui’s cheek, splaying his fingers so that his smallest finger rested where Kisui’s gills would be.

Kisui bowed his head, his long hair brushing Shizuka’s skin as he hauled himself back up. Slow-slow-slow he pulled out and pushed back in. Slow-slow he did it again, and again, and again until his body was a steady, sinuous curve moving faster and faster.

The angle was not friendly to Shizuka’s spine, not at all, but Kisui was pounding, making their bodies shake with impact and the wet slaps of flesh on flesh. His eyes were dark, so dark and his nails bit into Shizuka’s biceps. They were too far away to kiss but he could smell Kisui’s fishy breath and the gleaming teeth and somehow that was hot too. Kisui kept rippling his body until one final wave, hips snapping forward one last time as he made a soft, soft “oh.”

Shizuka felt him come. Not much, but just enough it was simultaneously disgusting and hot. They were still connected, Kisui growing limp inside him which was weird and nice and completely secondary to the hand jerking him off oh fuck when did that happen and he was coming all over his stomach.

Well. That was messy. Shizuka could not bring himself to care.

“That was—that was good. Really good.”

Kisui laughed, but cut off midway with a groan. “Oh, my stomach.”

“Augh,” Shizuka agreed, the ache catching up to him. “My legs.”

There were several noises that happened when Kisui pulled out and none of them were pleasant, so Shizuka promised himself to forget about them.

Kisui flopped down onto the moss, “I think it will take me a while to get used to this body.”

“Next time—” Shizuka swallowed the lump in his throat, reaching out to touch Kisui’s face again. “I mean, it will take me a bit to get over the, the fish thing. Get over myself, I mean. But I want—can you, as a fish too?”

“Next time,” Kisui’s voice was very, very quiet.

“I mean, it’s possible right? Somehow? I don’t know how fish stuff works, but I thought. I mean—”

Luckily for both of them, Kisui kissed him to shut him up. This time it was something slower, softer, more lips than tongue. Kisui still tasted a little like ocean water but that didn’t make it any less nice.

When they finally parted, Kisui was smiling. “Yes, it’s possible.”

“Next time, then.”

“Next time.”

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