Part two in my Kiss of a Mer series is Cloud and Zack! So let's get too it! (not required to read part 1 but all Kiss of a Mer stories are in the same universe)
Cloud had been wandering the shoreside like he usually did. It was a Saturday and the sun was at its highest peak, shining brightly down on top of the blond. He didn't mind the heat though as he moved along the water, letting the waves brush up over his feet.
It was days like these that Cloud could really get lost in his own thoughts, letting his mind drift off to the farthest corners of his mind. With the sound of the waves and seagulls surrounding him, he was able to find a sense of tranquility.
He knew soon enough people would start crowding the main section of the beach so he moved further. While there were no restricted or off limits area of the shoreline, there was the generalized area that people would play and swim at. So he decided he would move just beyond that to continue his walk of peace.
It was peaceful at first, until he started to hear soft muttering. Looking around he didn't see anyone else nearby, it was just him and the ocean.
"Maybe I'm just hearing things," Cloud thought to himself.
He only took a few more steps before he heard it again. Looking around again he saw no one else, though there was a large boulder that touched just at the edge of the water. If there was anyone else near him, there was a chance they were behind the boulder.
"Hello?" Cloud finally asked.
"Huh? Oh! Is someone there?" a voice rang out. "Thank goodness! I've been hoping someone could come on by!"
Slowly Cloud started moving towards the voice, edging closer to the rock. "Uh what do you need help with?"
"Come over here already and you'll see! Please I've been struggling all day and I really need help."
When Cloud got to the boulder, he peered over it, trying to find where the person was coming from. What he saw was not what he was expecting. He had assumed he would find a person, stuck there for who knows what, but he didn't expect to see a creature right out of the legends themselves. He was looking right at a man whose lower half was a scaly tail.
Cloud was looking right at a merman.
"Hey!" the merman greeted him. "Good you're here now. So can you help me out?"
It took Cloud a few moments to realize what he was referring too. He had been so distracted with the fact that he was looking at a merman that he didn't realize that the same said merman was tangled up in a fisher net. The beautiful blue tail was trying to flip around, trying to break freak, but the netting was causing him to be restricted.
"Helloooo Spike? You in there?" the merman asked again.
"Oh huh… sorry," Cloud whispered. "I just didn't expect to help out… to find out that you're a, well…"
"Ah I get it! You've never met a merfolk before! Totally get the confusion. But let me make my story really quick then. I was swimming like I always do just having fun. Saw some human shiny treasure closer up towards the shore. But there was a net I didn't notice that had been floating in the water. I got tangled up and here I am! So can you free me, Spike?"
Shaking away his confusion and awe, Cloud moved a bit closer to the merman. "I'll try, and my name's not Spike."
"Well you haven't told me a name yet, so for now you are Spike! Cause ya know your hair is so spiky!"
"Your hair is spiky too," Cloud commented as he started to try and remove the netting tangled up on the fins. "And you never told me your name either."
"Yeah but not as much as yours. You got like super spiky hair. It's really cool!" the merman said happily. "And I'm Zack!"
"Cloud? Really? That's an interesting name for a human."
"And why's that?"
"Cause I didn't think humans would be named after those fluffy puffballs in the sky."
Cloud sighed, continuing to pull the rope apart. "Well it's what my mom chose. Can't change that."
"I didn't mean to make it sound bad," Zack said, frowning slightly. "I just thought it was really cool. Never heard a human with a name like that before."
"Do you know a lot of other human names?" Cloud asked
"Nope! Only overheard a lot of humans talking before. So just a few names."
Cloud let out a small laugh before he shook his head. "You're pretty friendly then for a merperson."
Zack tilted his head. "And why's that?"
"Cause I've never seen one before or even thought they were real. I thought it was a legend."
"Whoa, merfolk are just legends for you guys? How cool is that!"
Cloud shook his head "I wouldn't say it's entirely cool. The legend revolving around you guys isn't really pleasant."
"And why's that?"
"The legend says something about if you encounter a merperson you should be wary. Something happens. I don't remember what… causes you to never be seen again. I just assume it's the old fisherman's tale of your kind drowning people at sea."
Zack's eyes seemed to light up with curiosity and wonder. A small smile crossed his face as he laughed. "Nah that isn't true. We're a kind race and we don't want to drown or kill anyone. I guess you humans just like to make up stories to scare little children not to go too far out to sea?"
Cloud shrugged as he finally made progress getting the net loss. "I guess so."
"Well you have nothing to worry about! I am the friendly merman you will ever know!"
"Sure, if you say so."
"Hey, come on! Don't you have any more you wanna say? Nothing you wanna ask me?"
Cloud stared, pausing his work for a moment. "No." He then went back to work, finishing the last bits of untangling the rope.
Zack pouted, looking rather disappointed. "Well if you ever have any questions you know who to ask."
"Well I doubt I'll be seeing you again. You're free now," Cloud said as he pulled the rest of the rope off of Zack.
"Hey, doesn't mean we can't meet up again. I think it could be fun!"
Cloud considered the though of it. He could meet up with a merman and chat with him, but he had no idea if he even should. Sure, the merman was interesting, Cloud couldn't deny that. But even then, he still wasn't the most sociable guy. He had no idea what they would talk about or where they could meet.
Despite all of his thoughts against it, he wasn't fully opposed to the idea.
"I guess we could," Cloud finally answered.
"Good! You know for your help I should give you a reward."
"And how does a kiss sound for a reward?"
"Isn't that what you do when you are heroically saved by a handsome man?" Zack said with a wink.
"If that's what you think. But, are you sure?"
A million thoughts were running through his head as he stared right at Zack. Sure he was gay, and he had been on a few dates before, but how in the world was this merman suppose to know that? That was probably the biggest question that went off in the back of Cloud's mind. He was trying to get it all to add up, but he kept ending up with even more questions than before.
"Was he able to just sense it? But does that mean he's a gay merman? I guess that's possible… But that also sounds really far fetched."
"I'm sure. I'd like to thank you anyways."
Suddenly, Cloud was pulled down by his shirt with Zack grinning. Everything happened so fast as Zack's face came closer to Cloud's. Then it followed with his lips against Cloud's. Even though he knew that Zack was going to kiss him, it still was enough to shock him, but not enough to pull away.
The thoughts poured through his mind again, but now he felt like he was in a hazy. The kiss was passionate, and maybe even magical. Sadly also because of the kiss, he wasn't able to think clearly. It was only when he finally pulled away could he think straight.
"Well Spike," Zack grinned, "Come back here in three days and then we can talk, okay?"
"I.. I uh…" Cloud muttered.
He watched dumbfoundedly as Zack started to pull himself closer to the water, trying to reach it so he could swim away. He stopped after a few attempts and laughed sheepishly, looking back at Cloud.
"Uh, you think you could help me one last time? Get me into the water? I'm still on the 'little too dry' side."
Cloud was almost too dumbfounded to even hear what Zack had said. The moment from before was still fresh in his mind and his heart was still pounding. The fact that Zack had kissed him still was sending him so many mixed singles. He did think Zack had a rather nice appearance for a merman, which unfortunately didn't help the singles feel any clearer.
'"Is it just how merfolk greet each other? Or show their thanks to people who help them?" Cloud thought, still trying to find an answer that satisfied him.
The thoughts snapped away and Cloud stared at Zack who was still trying to get to the water. He shook his head, and finally felt like he could think clearly again. "What did you say?"
"I said, can you help me get to the water. Please?" Zack replied.
Cloud rolled up his pants to his knees and took off his shoes and socks. He had no idea how much a merman weighed, but if he had to guess it was probably similar to a human. He moved closer to Zack and tucked his arms under him, one by his back and the other by the tail.
"What's with taking off some of the clothes?" Zack asked curiously.
"Well I think you'd prefer me to place you in the water. Unless you'd rather me throw you," Cloud said.
"Okay yeah fair point."
He breathed in slowly before carefully lifted Zack up into his arms. He wasn't actually as heavy as Cloud would have expected, but then again Cloud did go to the gym frequently. It wasn't like he was unprepared for having to lift something heavy.
"So why did you kiss me?" Cloud asked as he waded into the water.
"Oh you know," Zack grinned. "Why not? I thought it would be a nice reward and stuff. Plus it'll give you a reason to come back and see me."
"What makes you so sure I will?"
"You'll definitely want to see me. I just know it, Spike," Zack chuckled.
"I told you my name is Cloud."
"Yeah but you are so spiky!" Zack laughed as he attempted to ruffle Cloud's hair.
Cloud grunted, pulling his head away. "Whatever."
Now that the water was almost up to his knees he bent over to place Zack into the water. "How's that?"
Zack sighed with relief as he let the water wash over him. He relaxed as he let himself become submerged, covering every inch of his body. It was then that Cloud saw how much more vibrant and colorful Zack's tail looked. It was already a brilliant blue before but now it seemed to sparkle and shimming under the water's surface.
"Aw yeah! This feels great! Thanks Spike… I mean Cloud," Zack replied with a small chuckle. "So, see you later?"
"You're really persistent about that."
"I promise you, I just wanna see you again. Remember, three days, okay! Be prepared!"
Zack let out another laugh as he started to swim away. He didn't even wait for Cloud's reply as he swam off further into the ocean. Cloud could only watch him until the raven haired merman swam off, unable to say another word. There was nothing more he could do at this point. He had helped save a merman, got a kiss as a reward, and watched him leave.
With a shake of his head, Cloud headed back on to shore to dry off his legs before putting his socks and shoes back on. The day had taken the most unexpected turn and he knew that he wouldn't be forgetting this for a while.
Though, with nothing more to do now, he decided to head back home. It would give him time at least to think everything over, and decide if he was really going to head out again to meet Zack. It felt like there was something else too it, something that Zack wasn't telling him. Why else would he pick a meet up to be in three days time? Why not just tomorrow? That part Cloud didn't know, but if he did go through with it, he figured he would find out.
The following morning Cloud found that he had a splitting headache and a very dry throat. He thought maybe he had just overslept, but he actually had woken up 30 minutes before his alarm. He didn't give it much thought as he pushed himself out of bed and headed downstairs to get some coffee.
He stretched his body, trying to warm up the muscles. There was a little stiffness to them, but he figured it was from the extensive exercises he had done the day prior. His muscles probably just needed a little more time to relax. That was it. Simple as that.
After he had his coffee, he was ready to go about his day. He headed out and got on his motorcycle and drove off to work. By the time he got to work, he opened up his water bottle and took a few swigs before opening the front door.
Tifa was already at the counter, working on what looked like to be the morning crossword puzzle. She looked up and smiled. "Good morning, Cloud. About time you got here."
"I'm not late," Cloud muttered as he headed behind the counter to put his coat and keys down.
"I know, but I was here before you and I was left to wonder when you would arrive."
Cloud shook his head. "It's still not a completion."
Tifa rolled her eyes. "You're never any fun."
"I wouldn't say arriving at work is 'fun'. Any business so far?"
"Nothing yet," Tifa said as she got off from her stool and stretched. "It's been a pretty quiet morning.
With Cloud's business being a special delivery service he wasn't all too surprised no one had come in yet. He didn't just do the usual types of deliveries like most businesses would. He specialized in quick time deliveries and most cases for far away destinations. His motorcycle was tricked out to be faster than the average so he could make these trips in record time.
It just wasn't too often that someone needed such a task, but Cloud was here and ready for when they needed it. It was just a small business anyways, with the real money coming from Tifa's bar. Delivery service by day, and fun bar by night. It was a strange type of business, but it managed to work well. Tifa always took the time to help out Cloud and he couldn't have been more thankful for her help.
"So, anything interesting happened on your day off yesterday?"
"No not really," Cloud shrugged. "Well other than taking my usual walk along the beach."
Cloud paused for a moment, actually recalling what happened. He went to take another drink of water before he continued. "Though it didn't go exactly like normal."
"How so?" Tifa asked as she leaned against the counter.
"I think I encountered a merman?"
Tifa raised an eyebrow. "You… think? Were you dreaming you met a merman?"
"No he was definitely real… but not what I expected a merman to be like. He was friendly and outgoing…"
"And he didn't try and drown you like the legends say?"
Cloud shook his head. "No, he thought that was funny when I told him. He claims merfolk are a kind race."
The memory of the kiss lingered in his mind. The friendly and handsome face of Zack followed, his laugh echoing in Cloud's ears. He knew that he wasn't going to forget that merman any time soon.
Sighing, he ran a hand over his face. "He also wanted me to see him again."
"Oh, so he plans to drown you at a later date," Tifa laughed.
"He's not going to try and drown me."
"How can you be sure? You're just going to trust the word of a merman? A creature that we all thought was myth?"
Humming Cloud thought over how to phrase his answer. It was hard to explain, but he knew Tifa would understand him. Conveying his feelings was always the hardest, as he was rather introverted. But still, Tifa would be there to listen.
"I don't know… He just seemed genuine. I helped free him from some netting he was caught up in and he was thankful."
"Oh, well I guess he couldn't be all too bad."
Cloud hummed, slipping some more water. He didn't understand why he felt so thirsty today, but he wasn't about to let himself get dehydrated. "So you think I should see him again?"
Tifa shrugged. "That depends on you. But if you go, I am totally coming with you. Gotta make sure you aren't just going crazy."
Cloud laughed softly. "Thanks Tifa, real vote of confidence there."
"Well clearly there is more to this than you are letting on. So what's the other part?"
"What other part?"
"The part that makes you look all shy and red in the face," Tifa smiled. "You know it isn't hard to read you. So tell me what you are hiding!"
Cloud couldn't avoid it at this rate. Once Tifa figured out he was hiding something, she was determined to figure out what it was. "Fine. After I freed him from the net he... kissed me."
"Don't you ever pay attention to the legends? It isn't just that they say a merfolk will drown you, but one of the most known legends is 'Beware of the merfolk if you do encounter one, for if you are kissed by one, you will never be heard from again.' Don't you remember any of that?"
"Well I am clearly still here, so it can't all be true," Cloud replied.
"But he said to meet him in three days! How can we be sure about this!?"
Cloud shook his head. "I don't know Tifa. It's not like we can just look up information about this. It's called a legend for a reason."
"True… but not everyone has a friend who specializes in mythical research."
"Do we really need to?"
"Yes!" Tifa protested. "A merman kissed you, Cloud. We don't know what could happen if we don't do something about it. That's it! We're going to see her right now. No one will care if we close the shop for the day, right?"
Cloud shrugged. "Guess so."
"Then come on! We're going to go see Aerith."
They arrived at Aerith's flower shop several minutes later. The bell rang and they looked around to see where their friend could be. A moment later they heard her from the back, saying she would be right with them. As they waited Cloud took another sip of water. He made sure to refill his bottle before they left because somehow it was already less than half full before leaving.
"There's gotta be something that that merman did. You've been drinking all morning."
"I'm just thirsty. I don't think Zack caused me to be thirsty."
"That's his name," Cloud admitted.
Tifa hummed. "I still don't trust him."
"Hello!" Aerith's voice rang out as she came up to the front room. "Oh guys! I didn't expect a visit. Aren't you two working today?"
"Well this is an emergency. We need your help," Tifa replied.
"Oh, sounds like it must be serious. What is the situation?" Aerith asked as she moved to the front of the shop to turn the 'open' sign to 'closed'. "So tell me what's going on."
"You know a lot of myths and legends, right?"
Aerith nodded. "Of course. It's one of my specialties."
"How much do you know… about merfolk?"
Aerith's eyes widened slightly, but then a gentle grin crossed her face. "Did something happen?"
"Tell her," Tifa said, giving Cloud a nudge on the arm.
"I kind of was kissed by a merman," Cloud admitted.
"Oh Cloud," Aerith sighed. "Were you so easily fooled by a merman's charm and good looks that he tricked you into kissing him?"
Shaking his head, Cloud let out a sigh. "No, not really. After I saved him from the netting he wanted to give me a reward. He said he would kiss me… and I just kind of let him."
"That still means you let him kiss you!" Tifa added.
Aerith started to snicker. "You really must have found him attractive if you were nice enough to agree to a kiss from him."
Cloud blushed, his cheeks started to burn a little. "Doesn't matter."
"Is something going to happen to Cloud? Are the legends true?"
"Well, I would say yes and no. There is a reason that people who are kissed by merfolk disappear, but not for the reason you would think."
Aerith moved to sit down behind the counter, resting her arms on it so she could lean forward. She motioned for Cloud and Tifa to come closer, as she prepared to go on with her explanation. She breathed in deeply, closing her eyes for the moment. After her deep breath she opened them and finally went on to continue her story.
"Merfolk have magic of course, and part of that comes into play when they go and kiss a human. It's nothing bad, at least not as bad as the legends vaguely try to make it out to be. But… the fact is, because you were kissed by a merman… you are going to turn into a merman within three days."