A/N: Pre-war. Pretty much a story of how Mikotsu and Sal met, up until the war, and why Sal went to the Red Sea. In my theory, Sal liked Wadda cause she reminded him of Mikotsu :P Enjoy!
He first sees her among the stars, back when they were just young kids who didn't know what the world had in store for them.
She'd left the palace in her curiousity to explore, though she'd gotten lost. As for him, he'd been wandering around the forest to get away from his brother. Both siblings held a mutual dislike towards one another, which grew and festered as the years passed. It hadn't always been that way, though. He'd never admit it, but he missed the kind, protective brother he used to have.
The Sea of Stars was a dazzling plac, but it was also dangerous. She'd been trying to fend herself from some particularly vicious fish when he came across her.
"Are you okay?" He looked to the girl in the regal kimono who was crouched onto the ground, clutching one hand. The rest of the sea-creatures had fled at the sight of the shark.
"Uuuu, owwie... I'm fine, thank you..." She looked up to her saviour, her sentence trailing off. Her eyes widened slightly. "A shark…?"
"I won't hurt you." He assured her, with a small smile. He understood her wariness. Sharks were known to be vicious and bloodthirsty, so residents of the sea avoided them when they could.
The girl stared at him, and for a moment he believed she would bolt. Then she broke out into a wide grin. "I believe you, you saved me!" Then her eyes widened. She looked at him, up and down, gazing at him with wide blue eyes. "White…?"
His stiffened. Albinoism wasn't a desirable trait; it was seen as a mutation - an oddity, and for all his life, he had been teased and bullied for it. It had gotten worst after his brother - the only one who he could have called 'friend' - started getting distant from him.
He was starting to back away, just as she reached out towards him with her uninjured hand. She quickly retracted it. "Oops, sorry! That was kind of rude of me, wasn't it..."
Apparently, she had misintepreted him backing away as discomfort from her getting too close. "I should have asked first… umm… can I touch your hair?" She asked somewhat shyly. He nodded slowly, utterly bewildered. No harm letting her, right?
He felt her slender fingers petting his head softly, as she giggled and cooed. "It's so soft~" He felt his cheeks grow warm. She beamed. "I like how you're all white... It's beautiful."
He wasn't sure how to reply. He'd never been complemented before. He was more used to being called a weirdo or a freak. It felt... nice. "Thank you." He smiled at her. Then his gaze drifted downwards towards the hand which she had been cradling. He gestured towards her hand. "Umm, your hand…"
She looked down at it. "Ah... right. I got stung. How careless of me, eh?" She giggled sheepishly.
"I'll help you wrap it up." He said, digging into his pockets for the spare bandages he carried around.
"Ah, it's alright! You don't have to-" she protested as he pulled out the bandages and gently took her injured appendage.
He wrapped it gently, careful not to pull it too tight, but firmly. He finished quickly. "There, done." He stepped back, releasing her hand.
She looked at her bandaged hand in awe. "Thank you." She smiled at him. Then she startled "Oh, how rude of me- I forgot to introduce myself! I'm Mikotsu-"
An uncomfortable feeling settled in his stomach at the sound of her name. Mikotsu... why did it sound so familiar?
"...though you might better know me, as one of the twin princesses of the sea!"
Oh, that's why.
If it was possible, his pale face became even paler. In hindsight, it should have been obvious. No normal girl would be able to afford such an expensive kimono. He managed to stammer out, "P-p-princess...?"
Mikotsu nodded, oblivious to his discomfort. "Mhmm! Nice to meet you-"
"H-hey?! Are you okay? Don't faint on me like that!"
They became friends. A lonely girl and a lonely boy. Nevermind that one was a princess, and the other was a pariah; status had no place in their friendship. They were friends, and that was all that mattered.
"Hey, look! A falling star!" She pointed to a glimmering shape sinking in the distance.
He raised an eyebrow. "What's so special about that? They're practically everywhere." He indicated to the numerous stars scattered about them.
She huffed and crossed her arms. "That's not the point! Haven't you heard? If you wish on a falling star, your wish will come true!"
He shrugged at this. "Sounds like something a child would believe though."
She twitched; she was sensitive to any references to her apparent childishness. "You're getting cheekier, aren't you."
After she'd pulled him out of his shell, it was revealed that he could be quite a stubborn, cynical — dare she say it — bastard. She didn't mind all that much, she could deal with it, but his cynism could be depressing. It wasn't like it was good for him either!
Then he turned to her, and any irritation she had bubbled away at the sheepish expression on his face. "Am I?"
She sighed. "Nevermind... Anyway, make a wish! Something that you really, really want!" At that, she clasped her hands together and closed her eyes.
He watched her thoughtfully. 'Something that I really, really want, hm?' Slowly, he mimicked her actions. A few moments passed before they simultaneously opened their eyes, and watched as the star fell over the horizon and out of sight.
"So... what did you wish for?" He asked her.
She looked down rather bashfully. "I... I wished that... we'd be friends forever." She mumbled as her cheeks coloured slightly.
All her life, she hadn't actually had a proper friend. The servants were too formal. Her sister was... well, /her sister/. Uomi spent too much time reading to talk to her much. He was her first, true friend. And she treasured him more than she could say. "What did you wish for?"
He grinned and put a finger to his lips. "It's a secret."
The faintly embarassed look disappeared, replaced by an indignant one. "Eh?! B-but I told you mine!"
"It's still a secret."
She sputtered incoherently. "T-that's... that's not fair!"
"There was nothing about telling you mine if you told me yours." He pointed out, enjoying her energetic retorts.
Her blush returned. "D-do you know how embarassing it was to say it out loud?! I had to gather my courage for that, and even then..."
He tuned out her ensuing rant and laughed inwardly to himself. He hadn't had this much fun in ages! He smiled to himself, as he thought about what he had wished for.
I wish... that this happiness that I feel will never fade away.
"... hey, are you even listening? And what are you grinning at?!"
They always met at the same place - the place where they first met, the Sea of Stars. Seeing the stars made her feel happy, she said. As for him, he liked seeing her childish enthusiasm - it was like a breath of fresh air.
"I actually have a twin brother, you know," he told her one day, seemingly out of the blue. But in actuality, he had fought with his brother - again. And he wanted- no, /needed/ someone to talk to about it.
"Huh?! You have a brother?" She stared at him in shock. "Why didn't you ever mention him before?" She found that her indignation was well-placed. Suuure, they didn't know each other very well yet, but things like family should have been said early on. Family was important. She, of all people, should know that. "And here I thought you were an only child..."
He looked to the ground awkwardly. "We're... pretty distant, that's why. Though it didn't use to be this way. We used to be much closer, like any normal pair of brothers. Now we hardly talk or see each other at all. Even if we do, we usually end up fighting."
And now that he'd started, he couldn't stop. It all came rushing out. "In fact, we'd just did this morning. That's part of the reason I came here today, actually... other than coming to meet you, of course. I couldn't stand being near him any longer. I can't remember what it was about, but it doesn't matter. We'd fought over nothing before." He exhaled slowly, glad to get all of that off his chest.
"That's... that's just sad..." She felt like giving him a hug him; but she knew that would make him uncomfortable. He wasn't the skinship kind of guy, she could tell. She stomped on the impulse.
She looked forward instead, her expression thoughtful. "Actually... that's kind of like me, too, you know? Well, without the fighting part."
He raised an eyebrow, a silent gesture for her to continue. She did so. "Well... you know I have a sister, Uomi?"
"You mentioned it when we first met." He pointed out.
She grinned cheekily. "...and then you fainted," she couldn't help but remind him.
"Just continue with what you were saying, alright?" He mumbled, cheeks slightly pink.
She giggled slightly, before her face regained the comtemplative look she had. "Well... when we were young, she was like my best friend. We played together, hung out together, sometimes even pranked Dad together..." Her lips quirked up slightly at that. "But now... Now, we're like strangers. She used to be such a cheerful girl, but now she's become all... stiff." Her eyes grew distant. "It feels like she's gone to some place far away that I can't reach and I don't like it... I miss my sister."
Seeing her downcast expression, he came to a decision. He reached out... and started to pet her on the head. "H-hey!" She protested, but made no move to stop him. After a small pause, she giggled softly. "It... tickles." She whispered as she leaned into his hand.
"When we first met, you did something like this." He explained, still petting her head. "I wasn't very happy at that time, but you made me feel better. So, I'll do it for you too." A small smile formed on his face as he said that.
"Is that so... ?" A smile formed on her face. "... Thank you."
"You're welcome, Mikotsu."
His hand was warm.
"Hey, I just read about this thing called 'snow'!" She said as she ran up to him at their designated meeting place.
"'Snow'?" The shark looked at her curiously as he pat the flat surface of the rock beside him.
She hopped up and took her place. "Yeah, snow! It's white, and fluffy... It kind of reminded me of you, actually."
"A fluffy shark? That's new."
She 'tch'-ed slightly. "You know what I mean..."
He grinned. "Yeah, yeah... Snow, eh?" He looked up thoughtfully. "What is it like? Surely the book said that?"
"Well..." She tapped her forehead, trying to remember what she had read. "They said that it was cold. Like, really cold. And it's spread out all over the ground," She stretched her arms out wide in emphasis. "Kind of like sand, actually. Except softer and whiter."
He thought over her words. "...sounds interesting."
"Oh! And they said that under the sun, sometimes, the snow can glitter, like pretty stars!" She smiled at that. She liked stars.
"Sounds nice." His eyes drifted to the stars around them, glinting in the sand. "...hey, do you think we'll get to see it some day?"
She sighed. "Well... I read about that too, and they said that the nearest island with snow is pretty far out. I don't think we'd be able to get there at now."
He looked back to her. "'Now'? So we'd be able to get there in the future, then?"
"I hope so! I really want to see it!" She grinned excitedly at the thought.
"I'd like to see it too," he smiled at her enthusiasm. "Then, why don't we make a promise? That we'll head to that island once we're old enough." He held out a hand, pinky outstretched.
She entwined the pinky with her own. "Alright! When we're old enough, we'll head there together. And then we can see what snow's like!"
"It's a promise!" they chorused.
Where there was noone else for them, they had each other. They were inseparable, and didn't mind each others' quirks at all.
For a shark, he was unusually shy and timid, which separated him from the other sea predators. Yet his unusual appearance was of no issue to her, and in fact she liked it very much.
Mikotsu was a princess, but she rarely acted like one at all. She disliked politics and anything that came with it, which wasn't very good since, as a princess and potential ruler, she'd have to deal with those things eventually. But no matter how un-princess-ly she acted, he always accepted her wholly, and she really appreciated that.
One night, she came running to his tiny apartment. He lived on the very outskirts of main town, and so she was able to skirt around and get there without bumping into anyone else.
It had been late, and he was almost on the verge of sleep when he was woken up by incessant knocking. He opened the door to find a dishevelled Mikotsu standing infront of his house.
She was mumbling to herself. He caught naught but a single word. "Father..." Now that he looked closer, she was crying. He frowned. Her father had always been a sore subject for her. From their youth, he had always favoured Uomi over Mikotsu. This did not change as they grew older, and if anything, it only grew worst.
He closed the door and ushered her into his rundown home. He lead her to the couch, the only article of furniture that seemed presentable. Gently coaxing her to take a seat, he went from the small room to the even smaller kitchen and began preparing a cup of stardust tea.
It had been her favourite drink since he'd introduced it to her, and had never failed to calm her down when she was upset. He lost himself in his thoughts as he stirred the mixture. Mikotsu rarely spoke of her father, but when she did, it was always with a voice full of admiration and love. However, her love was hardly returned, as her father only paid attention to Uomi, neglecting his other daughter. He wondered why did she still love him so much after all that. So much for the Great Sea King. He can't even love his daughter right.
He carried the cup of tea into the living room. He noted with relief that she seemed much calmer than before. Accepting the cup, she slowly sipped from it. He sat himself across from her on a old wooden stool.
Silence hung between them as she finished the tea. Cradling the empty cup on her lap, she looked up and met his worried gaze. "It never ceases to amaze me how you manage to live in conditions such as this."
He shrugged. It was hard to find a job. Being a societal outcast meant you had to live life on the edge. "I got used to it. ...Sorry if it bothers you."
She smiled wryly. "I've told you before; it's nothing to be sorry about. It's not your fault..." Her smile faltered.
She fidgeted for awhile before answering. "Father scolded me. Said I wasn't being a proper princess and all. Y-y'know, the usual." She tried to sound casual, but the trembling of her hands betrayed her distress.
He remained silent, waiting for her to continue; he knew she had more to say. He wasn't wrong. "H-he doesn't speak to me for months, and when he finally does its to scold me. It hurts... It hurts so bad..."
The cup fell from her lap as she stood, and he was barely able to catch it before it hit the ground. "WHY? Why? I love father so much, so why does he only pay attention to HER! WHY?! Why?" Her sudden burst of rage spent, she crumpled back onto the seat. "Father doesn't talk to me, she doesn't talk to me either, I'm so... lonely." She hiccupped, tears flowing anew.
Placing the cup to the side, he approached her, and held her tightly. She returned it, clinging onto him as if her life depended on it.
"It's unfair... " she mumbled into his chest. "It's all so unfair. Fathers should love their children equally, shouldn't they? And you..." Her tears came back in full force, and she hiccuped. "You shouldn't have to live this way, just because of the way you were born. I wish to change that. To make it such that things didn't have to be this way. If it was me, I'd make sure that everyone would be happy. Even the ones whom others shunt off to the side. Everyone."
He reached down and squeezed her hand comfortingly. Even as she said it, they both knew it would never be so. For her to even begin to think of changing things, she had to be in a position of power, first and foremost. A princess didn't stand for much, other than in name.
But it was impossible. In her father's eyes, Mikotsu was too childish, too idealistic. It was a foregone conclusion that, no matter how much desire Mikotsu held to make the people of the sea happy, the title of 'ruler' would never fall to her.
"Mikotsu..." He thought of what to say. Hardly anything he had to say would do anything to comfort her. He wanted to help, but what could he do? He was practically a pariah. Utterly powerless. It ate away at him, and broke his heart to see her like this, and being unable to do anything about it. It hurt so much, to see the girl he loved ending up so broken.
The world is such a cruel place.
He squeezed her hand again, and this time she looked up. He looked her in the eye, and said, with ever ounce of conviction he had, "I'll support you. No matter what happens, come what may, I'll be here for you. On your side, /by/ your side. I promise."
Because he didn't have anything else to give her; didn't know what else to give her, other than himself.
She finally smiled, and squeezed his hand back. "That's more than I can ever ask for."
The Sea God declared Uomi as the next rightful ruler.
It was something that she had known would happen, yet she couldn't stop her heart from breaking as the decree had been read out. It had been her final hope, now that her father was gone. Call her silly, foolish or just plain stupid, but that decree had been her sole hope that perhaps, just maybe, he had acknowledged her after all.
In the end, that fragile hope had been shattered.
"I'm sorry; I'm so, so sorry, but I can't take it anymore. No more, no more, no more!"
In her grief, her powers ran rampant. And as the daughter of a Sea God, those powers were hardly small. They lashed out, at everyone and at everything. The sea was split, as both sides tried to fight for their princess' right of succession.
Throughout it all, he stayed by her side, just as he had promised her, and together they tried to reach their brighter, desired future. Yet in the end, all their efforts were all for naught. The seal was draining them - him, Mikotsu, and everyone else that had chosen to fight by their side. It was sucking them into a dimension separate from this one; such was the destruction wrought by Mikotsu's rage, that such measures had to be put into place.
But, just before the seal closed, Mikotsu, with the last of her power, pushed him out of its confines. And, smiling the smile he loved, she whispered-
"Thank you... I love you."
It was surprising, how easy it was for him to blend in with the others. So long as he didn't show too much of his shark-like features, they didn't question his proclaimed species. It helped that he had never acted like a typical shark in the first place, unlike that hot-headed brother of his. He even managed to work his way up to working under the service of Uomi, herself.
And every opportunity he found, he researched and studied the seal, looking for ways to unseal it, pick it apart, or even destroy it.
He wouldn't give up on her, no matter what.
We'll definitely meet again someday. I'll make sure of it.