This story is heavily inspired by TempduLoupe's 'Creating Atlantis' fic. It's set after season 2, as a replacement for season 3. Enjoy!
For the first time since they'd become mermaids, life was practically perfect for Emma Gilbert, Rikki Chadwick, and Cleo Sertori. Charlotte, humiliated and human, had transferred to a boarding school across the country. The full moon hadn't affected them for months. And they had loving boyfriends with whom they could share their secret.
The boyfriends in question were currently waiting for them at their secluded spot on the beach. The girls popped their heads out of the water and the boys splashed over, eager to help them out of the surf and back into their legs.
"Nice swim?" Zane Bennett asked as he offered Rikki a hand. She took it without hesitation.
"Very. Cleo found a new reef."
"And the dolphins from the other day found us again!" The brunette in question piped up.
At the mention of the dolphins, the trio launched into a steady stream of excited chatter that remained unbroken until they'd dried off and began to make their way to the along the sand.
"-and the dolphins were so playful, especially when we saw the sea turtles-"
"-which were huge! They were pretty close to the reef, right at Mako-"
"-and we totally might've been worried about sharks, since we're still getting the hang of our powers-"
"-or worse, getting spotted by someone-"
"-but they didn't want to come anywhere near the dolphins-"
"-and we figured if we stuck close and stayed underwater, we could pass ourselves off as dolphins to anyone above-"
"-not that anyone really goes out there these days. Which is why we were thinking-"
"-we should have a picnic-"
"-or go camping out there-"
"-so we can really explore the island-"
"-and get some quality time alone."
Lewis McCartney, Ash Dove, and Zane Bennett waited a moment to see if they were finally finished. When they received nothing but expectant stares, Lewis cleared his throat.
"That sounds like a great idea! Maybe we can plan it tonight at the JuiceNet?"
Rikki made a face. "Why would we be at the JuiceNet at night? It's closed."
"It's the full moon, and he keeps going on about us getting moonstruck," Cleo sighed, before he could answer. "Even though we weren't affected at all last time."
"Lewis, I think we're past the point of needing babysitting during the moon. Besides, Rikki's right; the cafe is closed." Said Emma.
Ash slipped an arm around his girlfriend's waist. "Actually, I have the keys. And, I think Lewis has a point; we need to make sure that you really can't get moonstruck anymore, and none of us wants to leave you alone until we know."
"'Us'?" Rikki questioned before turning to Zane. "So you three have already made this decision, have you?"
"Rikki, please. You know I couldn't stand it if something happened to you. Just humor us, and we'll drop it as soon as we see there's nothing to worry about."
She searched his eyes for a moment before turning away, but she didn't drop his hand. "Fine. I'm in if the rest of you are."
"It's a school night, Cleo."
"Dad, I finished all my schoolwork, and it's just Rikki and Emma," Cleo huffed. "I don't see what the big deal is!"
"Sweetheart, you know you'll end up staying up way too late and you won't be able to focus at school. I'm not trying to punish you, and you can certainly have your sleepover tomorrow night instead."
"But we can't tomorrow! Come on Dad, please? The Gilberts will make sure we get plenty of sleep."
Kim poked her head in.
"Oh, please. Cleo just wants to see her boyfriend; she's always sneaking off to see him anyway."
Cleo whirled on her sister.
"Kim!" But she had already fled, so Cleo turned back to her father. "Dad-"
"I don't want to hear it, Cleo. You're spending the night in your room, without a boy in sight!"
Cleo was going to kill her sister.
Cleo winced as her door closed with a quiet click. She stilled, ears straining for any hint that her father or sister was awake to hear her. Nobody stirred, and she released a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. Sure, she wasn't worried that missing the sleepover would make her vulnerable to the full moon, but Cleo hated feeling left out. Plus she hadn't Lewis or the others not to expect her, and she didn't want them to worry that she'd been moonstruck. That would only fuel their boyfriends' paranoia. Sometimes Cleo wished that Lewis could truly understand what being a mermaid felt like, but but all she could do was try to explain it to him.
Cleo crept downstairs, pausing only briefly outside Kim's door before deciding that revenge would have to wait. The front door, thankfully, didn't creak, but Cleo closed it carefully just to be sure. She was leaving later than she'd hoped, though it couldn't be helped, and she glanced up to check the location of the moon in the sky. The sight of it filled Cleo with a sense of calm and eased the tension from her muscles. She altered her course to take her around the house and down to the water. She would arrive at the JuiceNet cafe far faster if she swam, she reasoned.
Don Sertori's heart sank as he heard Cleo's door open. He'd been so hopeful that Kim's comment about sneaking out was just another one of her tall tales, but now he had the evidence in front of him. He watched as his eldest daughter passed under his window. That was strange; the only destination that that path led to was the backyard, and he could clearly see that there was no one waiting for her there. But Cleo continued to stroll forward, and for a moment Don thought perhaps she was waiting for a boat. Then, without warning, Cleo dove into the water, startling Don so much that he nearly upended a nearby glass of water.
By the time he'd recovered from his shock, Cleo was nowhere in sight and Don was about to turn away when the largest tailfin he'd ever seen broke the surface with a splash.
"She's still not answering her phone. Where could she be?" Emma, normally level-headed and patient, had joined Lewis in his pacing after the ninth missed call.
"There's no way she's been moonstruck, right?" Rikki asked. "I mean, it doesn't affect us anymore."
Lewis ran a hand through his hair.
"You don't really know that though; you just think it. This is why I said we needed to watch you three tonight."
"I think that I know more about being a mermaid than you do, Lewis."
Zane hurried to soothe his girlfriend, shooting Lewis a look of warning.
"Watch it, Lewis. You're just worried. Don't take it out on Rikki."
"Of course I'm worried," Lewis spluttered. "One peek at the full moon and these three lose it. Cleo could be in all kinds of trouble right now."
"We aren't children, Lewis," Rikki's face was reddening. "And we didn't ask for you to babysit us."
"Well maybe you should've!"
"We can take care of ourselves."
"Yeah, you've been doing such a great job with that, haven't you?"
Steam was rising from Rikki's clenched fists now, and Zane backed away, giving up on trying to calm her. Lewis had abandoned his pacing.
"Lewis, I swear-"
But no one got to hear exactly what it was that Rikki swore, because at that moment there was a howl of wind and the entire cafe shook. Glasses shattered on the floor, followed closely by all the tables and chairs, which landed with heavy thuds.
"Is everyone okay?" Ash asked after the tremors had finally subsided. Zane and Lewis responded in the affirmative, but when Rikki and Emma remained silent he twisted to find each frozen in a crouch where they'd braced themselves. Their eyes were fixed unblinkingly on the full moon, which was now visible through a window that had lost its covering.
Zane scrambled to refasten the tarp. As the moon vanished from view, the girls blinked and took in the chaos around them.
"What happened?" Emma wondered, allowing herself to be pulled to her feet.
"I'm not sure," Lewis responded. "How do you feel? You just got an eyeful of the full moon."
"I feel fine."
"Me too," Rikki added. "I told you we wouldn't get moonstruck."
Emma swiftly cut in before they could resume their argument.
"We should get this cleaned up before someone gets hurt." She motioned to the floor, which was littered with food and broken glass. "Then we can focus on finding Cleo."
"Great minds think alike," Ash said as he re-emerged from the back room lugging a mop and a bucket full of soapy water. Zane reached out to help but slipped on a piece of fruit as he moved, losing his balance and sending both bucket and mop flying. The girls shrieked and Emma brought up her hands to freeze the incoming water, but was too late; ten seconds later there were two mermaids sprawled on the dirty floor.
"Shit, why is there so much glass?" Emma groaned, trying not to move and risk cutting herself. Rikki just cursed under her breath as she raised a fist and began to evaporate the water.
"I'm so sorry!" Zane had lunged toward them before forcing himself to hang back as his girlfriend worked.
"Don't worry about it," Emma said dismissively. "It happens."
"What the hell?" Rikki caught everyone's attention as she relaxed her hand. "We're completely dry; why haven't we changed?"
Emma smoothed a hand along her scales.
"You're right! Are we stuck?"
"Maybe it's the moon." Ash reasoned, and Emma felt her heart start to pound. Her mouth felt too dry, and she struggled to swallow.
"Could this be permanent?"
There was an uneasy silence. Lewis broke it by slapping a hand to his forehead.
"Mako!" He cried. Then, upon noticing their confusion, explained himself. "If this is happening to you, it probably happened to Cleo too; that's why she hasn't been answering her phone. And if she's stuck in the water, she probably went to the moon pool at Mako!"
Emma pushed down her rising panic.
"You're right. And maybe that's where we'll find a solution to this. We can leave this mess for the morning." She twisted carefully to look at Ash. "Do you think you could carry me out to the water?"
He knelt and gently maneuvered her into his arms, and Zane mirrored him with Rikki.
"I can definitely manage that," He said.
Though she knew he wouldn't drop her, being midair without any way to catch herself made Emma feel much too vulnerable, so she threw her arms around his neck and hugged him close. Rikki giggled as they started off.
"You look like the cover of a romance novel."
"You're doing the same!"
"Yeah, well, you did it first." She proved to have gotten the last word, as the boys were depositing them at the water's edge. Rikki gave Zane a quick kiss before letting go. "Will you meet us there?"
"Wouldn't miss it. Luckily I parked the boat close tonight."
As stressed as the situation made them, the girls couldn't help but feel relaxed as they slipped into the sea.
They found Cleo floating in the moon pool, examining something shiny in her cupped hands.
"Oh no," She said when she saw them. "Are you stuck too?"
"It seems like it," Rikki responded.
"But I thought you were staying away from water?"
"We were," Emma began. "But the earthquake ruined that plan."
"That wasn't an earthquake."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I was late because I had to sneak out, so I decided to swim to the JuiceNet but when I got there I couldn't turn back. I didn't know how to get your attention, and I thought maybe using wind to shake the building would get one of the boys to come outside."
"Oh, Cleo. Now all three of us are in the same position!"
"I know, I'm sorry! I didn't know what else to do."
Cleo was saved by the entrance of the three boys. Lewis made a beeline for her.
"Cleo! Thank God we found you. I was so worried!"
"Don't celebrate too much," Rikki said. "Cleo can't turn back either; she made the wind outside the cafe to get our attention."
"This has to be because of the moon, right?" Zane asked. "I mean, that's the only logical explanation."
All six peered up at the round hole overhead. The full moon was nearly directly above the moon pool, and as they watched, its rays began filling the cavern with pale light.
"Hey!" Rikki exclaimed, struggling in the water. "I can't move my tail!"
Cleo and Emma made to help her, but could only twist their torsos and stretch out their arms.
"It's like they're frozen in place!"
A strong gust sent the boys stumbling toward the water, and Ash had to yank Lewis's sleeve to keep him from tumbling in.
"Cleo, stop!" Emma ordered, voice cracking, but Cleo shook her head.
"This isn't me!" The wind whipped around them, and she had to yell to be heard.
Again, the wind pushed against the boys' backs, this time succeeding in forcing Zane into the water. As he struggled to return to dry land, Emma tried freezing Ash and Lewis's shoes, but she was too late. Lewis lost his balance on the lip of the pool and fell forward, dragging Ash in with him. As the full moon aligned itself with the circular opening, its light became radiant and the pool bubbled, glowing golden around them.
It was only once the water calmed and the air stilled, the chamber once again dim, that the six teens found they could move freely. The boys quickly exited the water before hoisting their girlfriends out and onto the sand to rest.
"What just happened?" Ash broke the silence.
"I'm not positive," Lewis began. "But-"
"I think we might be mermen," Zane cut in, to everyone's surprise.
"You're joking, right?"
"I don't know. But that seems pretty close to what Rikki described."
"I think you're right," Lewis's voice cracked and he had to clear his throat and repeat himself. "Jesus, I've spent so long studying you three, but I never thought I'd experience it myself."
Cleo choked on a sob.
"Oh my god, this is all my fault," She started to shake a little. "Lewis, I- I kept wishing that you could understand how I felt about being a mermaid. What if I made that come true?"
He scooted closer and wrapped his arms around her, and Cleo buried her face in his neck. But it was Zane, not Lewis, who spoke up.
"I'm sure it's not that, Cleo. When it happened, it was almost like it was the moon pool itself that wanted us. You girls couldn't even move."
Cleo sniffed and nodded, and Lewis took her cheek in his hand, gently brushing away a tear with his thumb.
"You're all acting like this is a done deal," Rikki said. "But we don't even know if the guys will grow tails yet. Shit, we don't even know if we can transform back."
"Let's spend the night here," Emma suggested after pondering a moment. "Rikki's right, though I can't believe I'm saying it. It won't be comfortable, but I'd rather figure everything out away from prying eyes. Especially if we're stuck with tails."
The others voiced their agreement, and they settled in. The girls curled around their boyfriends, who pulled them close, closed their eyes.
"I can't stand this," Emma whispered so that only Ash could hear. "I'm not even in control of my own body anymore…"
He didn't know how he could make her feel any less vulnerable, so he simply hugged her tighter to him.
The uncertainty of what lay ahead left everyone full of adrenaline, and they could only pretend to sleep as each finally drifted off. Ash was the last to lose consciousness, finally succumbing to sleep merely an hour before daybreak.
Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of this fic! I'll be updating whenever I get the inspiration, so please be sure to review and get my creativity going :)