Marlin stayed in that one place, and looked above to the sky, covered in the million ripples of calm water. A faint, wistful smile graced his features. He kept staring above, alone.

It was a quiet, serene night in the ocean, with the drapes of moonlight glistening through the water and illuminating everything on the sandy floor. He could faintly see the stars winking back at him, watching over him like he did for his son.

Sighing, Marlin moved his eyes away from the sky and to the floor below. No one was awake. No one would be awake at this ungodly hour anyhow. Turning around, he noticed and gazed fondly at the sea anemone, his home for so long. Whispering a prayer, he turned around and swam away.

Had it not been for the ordeal he went through recently, Marlin wouldn't be swimming away from his safe, comfortable home in the middle of the night, leaving his son untended and unguarded. However, he had too much to think about. There was so much rushing through his mind, the little clownfish knew he was going to burst if he didn't sort through his thoughts.

Marlin knew Nemo would be safe. He had to let Nemo fend for himself. He would always be his little baby boy, but he finally accepted the fact that he was growing up. Marlin wouldn't always be around to protect his son. Nemo had to learn on his own, and defend his own being from harm.

It was so hard for Marlin, though. He felt his heart snapping little by little, feeling the threads that kept him together give way and finding no solution to mend it. His son was the world to him. Without his son, there was no meaning to his life. Nemo, too, was the only tie left to his wife.

Depression and memories sinked into his heart, and Marlin blinked a few times to rid himself of a sudden blurriness that affected his vision. Using a fin to wipe across his eyes, he swam forward, into the darkness and into the unknown. He didn't know where he was going, and he didn't particularly care. He had to get away and think. He had to think. It was too much for him to handle.

He loved his wife. His heart was shattered when he lost her. Marlin was never the same when Coral died. Sometimes, he would think that somewhere out in the ocean Coral was still alive, searching for a way to get back home. He still had that false hope riding within his mind and his heart, and the little sliver of faith at times made the thread that kept his sanity and heart together snap slowly and painfully.

Marlin went through so much heartbreak during his journey to find his son. Had he lost his son... Marlin shuddered as he passed the drop off. His eyes widened and he stopped abruptly. Marlin was going too far. It would be stupid of him to wander off into the ocean in the middle of the night. He gulped at the possibilities of dangers - sharks, jellyfish, barracudas - and slowly swam backwards.

Barracuda. That single thought ran across his mind, and Marlin stopped backing up. Coral. He envision her smile, her kiss, and her touch all at once. Tears flowed from his confused, torn garnet red eyes, and more memories flooded from his subconscious, clashing with his thoughts, and worries. Nemo. Losing Nemo. Losing Nemo...

Marlin had lost Nemo. He had lost Nemo. He remembered not too long ago how his entire heart was gone, and he couldn't breathe. For that eternity - those three seconds - his heart sank and shattered onto the tile floor that was below him. His eyes screamed the ultimate torture any parent could endure. His only son, the only one he treasured, cherished, and had left, was dead.

Just... like Coral. Just like his wife. He wasn't able to save Nemo. He wasn't able to save Coral. He screwed up. He missed the opportunity. He... he wasn't... he just couldn't... could not...

Marlin broke down. Mentally, he finally broke. Tears flowed from his eyes, and mixed with the water around him. Noiseless sobs racked from his lungs, and his body shook each time. His eyes were straight, fixated on some unknown source in the black ocean in front of him, understanding the angst he went through, and the loathe he had against himself.

He lost Nemo. No matter what happened, Marlin lost Nemo. Nemo came back from the dead, per say, and was sleeping peacefully back home in the sea anemone. However, Marlin knew the truth. Marlin knew for a fact that Nemo wasn't his. Nemo had his own life, and his own decisions to make. Nemo had to take care of himself, and Marlin couldn't protect him from harm.

His body kept racking with the sobs, never-ending, never ceasing. Tears flowed faster than ever as Marlin slowly comprehended and the fragments of his heart sank deeper in the anguish. His mouth was open, gaping back and forth, but no sound came. Nothing at all.

He could have screamed. He could have shouted and yelled all the despair and misery out. He didn't have to keep it all within. Marlin knew it. He couldn't, though. His body kept moving, and his eyes kept their lock. The clownfish heard his sobs, the only comfort he had, and his inner turmoil thrived on it.

Marlin wasn't the type to scream. He shouted and yelled and nearly had a nervous breakdown most of the time. He never truly screamed. He never screamed for what he was going through, and what he was understanding. Marlin wasn't that kind of fish. Marlin sucked it all within, and never let it out.

His tears and his eyes did the screaming for his torn soul, his battered mind, and his demolished heart.

Marlin finally understood. Nemo wasn't his anymore. Nemo would grow up, and Nemo would move on, and Nemo would have a life. Nemo would get married, and Nemo would have children of his own. Nemo would live in happiness, and never have a care in the world. He would have his problems, and his turmoils, and he would overcome them.

Nemo would not need his father once life took it's course. Marlin would be alone, forever, in the little sea anemone he found for Coral and himself all those years ago.

Nemo would be gone. Coral was gone. He would be alone.

He thought... he thought it would be the same. Coral and himself were supposed to be mated for life. All clownfish are mated for life. Without Coral, Marlin's mind went ahead and associated Nemo to himself. He had to protect Nemo forever, to compensate for the broken vow he made to Coral. He couldn't be mated for life with Coral, but he could protect Nemo for life.

He couldn't anymore. This journey proved him wrong. Nemo would have to go out on his own, and live on his own, and make his own choices. Marlin wasn't a puppetmaster, and Nemo wasn't his puppet. He never wanted that analogy to happen. It did, though.

Marlin never wanted this to happen. He wanted to have a family, with Coral, and all the rest of his kids. Then he wouldn't be all alone. He'd have Coral with him. It wouldn't... it wouldn't be like this. Marlin knew he wouldn't have to go through this. If Coral was here... if Nemo would stay... if only...

Marlin couldn't take it. He was drowning. And he knew it.

He swallowed, hard, and sucked in everything. Marlin began to turn around, slowly, and went back home where his son was possibly waiting for him. His body would never stop shaking rapidly, his heart wouldn't stop pounding, and the tears didn't stop flowing.

His breathing was shallow, as if he was hyperventilating or having an anxiety attack. Marlin knew he wasn't. He was gently coming to terms with all of his thoughts and his contemplations and worries. He didn't have to worry anymore. Mentally, he accepted the fact of the truth.

His body betrayed him. All the way home, Marlin was in denial, chanting in a whisper that things would be fine and that everything would come out great in the end and that there was hope. There was hope... there was hope. If Nemo could come back to his life, then there was hope. There was hope... there had to be hope.

Hope. He hoped Coral would return. He- Marlin sucked it in. Marlin took in a deep, deep breath and let it all out. He didn't scream. He watch the air bubbles leave into the water and up to the surface. He never screamed. His body slowly calmed down as he saw his home in the horizon.

Marlin sucked it in. He kept it all inside. He couldn't worry his only son about where he was, or where he went off to, and why he was crying and all these questions that would worry his son. He smiled gently. He didn't want his son worried. He was supposed to be the worried one, after all.

The old, tired clownfish went into his home and looked at the sleeping form of his only son. Nemo was on his side, fast asleep, with his breathing regular and his mouth open. He snored vaguely. Marlin smiled tiredly, and swam over to his son. He hugged him and kissed his forehead and slightly wondered how long he was going to be able to do that.

He lied on the ground, and draped a fin over Nemo. He clasped Nemo's lucky fin, and wished for his own luck. He would need it to endure all the troubling times ahead.

Marlin's last thought was of the time he took Nemo to school. Squirt from the EAC had transfered, and he had finally "loosened" up, as the others put it. He remembered how Nemo gave him a hug, and after what felt like heaven, asked if Marlin could just let him go. Embarrassed, he did what his son asked him, and watch as his child went off into the wild blue yonder.

Dory was at this side, back from her meeting with the sharks, since she was the newest member. She was smiling, ever clueless, but with a sparkle in her ruby-violet eyes. Marlin knew what she considered of him, a friend, but possibly something more. Marlin never contemplated that fact, though. He didn't need anymore thoughts to sort, and he needed to wake up in the morning anyhow.

But he remembered what he said that day. It was the start of his heart, which finally mended itself together, begin to crack ever faintly. His son waved to him, blissfully and without a care in the world, off to his own paradise and the wonders waiting for him in life. He had his chance to live life the way Marlin was supposed to - without a care for the darkness and oblivious to the little minor details.

Nemo said goodbye to him. And Marlin wistfully responded back with the two most dreaded worst he ever spoke.

"... bye, son."

That was only yesterday. Marlin wanted to laugh at the fact.

Marlin picked up Nemo after school, with Dory. He didn't remember what he did that day waiting for Nemo with Dory. Marlin knew it was only for one day, letting Nemo go to school. It would become routine, and he would get used to it. All parents did. However, his heart knew differently. It was the beginning, and Marlin knew he had to prepare himself for the trials ahead.

But maybe... maybe he wouldn't be alone in his trials. He did have Dory. Even though for her short-term memory, Dory was a good friend, and Marlin knew Dory loved him. Marlin could never forget Coral, but maybe Dory could help him cope. Possibly she could... she could...

Marlin yawned and held onto Nemo tighter, including the lucky fin. He already said goodbye. He would have to get used to it.

His body shook slightly, but Marlin sucked it all right back in. He turned his head slowly and looked above to the open space of the sea anemone. The moon was shinning down on him, as if protecting him and his son from harm. It illuminated his home, bouncing off of everything the light could touch.

Marlin saw the stars, and they were twinkling. Slowly, he saw one star fall. A few more fell, and a couple more still after. Soon, thousands were falling across the water-covered sky, creating such a beautiful picture, Marlin wished Nemo was awake to see it. Or even Dory. He wished he could have shared this moment with someone.

The stars were there, though, and so was the moon. They were weeping for him, possibly, and all the misery he had to keep inside. Maybe Coral was up there, watching over him, and crying for all he had to go through for their son. He missed her. He truly did.

Several tears blurred his vision again, but he didn't shake his head or use his fin to remove them. He let some of them fall, and the others stay within his eyes. He didn't want to let go of his son, not yet. He knew he would have to, but not now.

Sleep took over, erasing Marlin of his thoughts, worries, despair, memories, and reality. He turned over, smiling wistfully, and let his dreams take him far, far away from the sea to a place where Coral was waiting for him, where there was no worries such as his eventually loneliness and how he was going to loose Nemo - nothing but absolute peace and happiness.

And in the light of the moon, Nemo opened his eyes and looked at the sleeping form of his father with tear-soaked cheeks and some still brimmed in his eyes.

"Dad?" he asked gently, moving his body slightly to awake his father.

But Marlin never woke up. He kept sleeping, lost in his dreamworld, and refused to leave.

Nemo gave a worried glance, and shrugged slightly. Sleep overtook him again. He would have to ask his dad in the morning.