Confusion filled Hannah’s gut. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she needed to talk to him. Like he had something to tell her. She was brought out of her thoughts by Aaron and Tori asking if she was coming as they walked towards the boat. As she went to step onto the boat, she saw a flash of red in her peripheral vision and looked over to see another boy around her age wading in the water, this one with bright red hair. He also was glaring at Hannah. She had never seen him before yet his stare held so much hatred.
“Whoa, wonder what his problem is,” Hannah said to Aaron and Tori.
Kun slapped himself as soon as he went back underwater, he could’ve gotten caught by her. Sure, that mother and her daughter didn’t think anything of his tail, but who knows if Hannah would be the same. He knew the way he went under, exposed his tail, but all he could think of was getting out of there as fast as he could. He sighed to himself and swam to the bottom of the ocean and laid there, staring at the boat he assumed Hannah was getting on.
To his surprise, the flash of green and red swam above him. Taeyong swam to the surface and looked straight at the boat. Kun furrowed his brows and swam up to him, staying a little further away. He could see Taeyong was staring directly at Hannah as she climbed onto the boat before going back under the surface and making eye contact with Kun. The look of immense anger was quickly replaced with surprise and the same childish glee he had yesterday.
“Oh, Kun! I didn’t see you there! What are you doing here? Just human gazing?”
“Uh, yeah. What about you?” Kun asked him, glancing at the boat Hannah was on as it’s motor started and began to take off.
“Same. I like to see what they’re doing when they’re at places like this. It’s really interesting to see them get around swimming in the ocean.” He smiled widely.
Kun couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something about this man. Like this cheery attitude he had was a facade.
“Alright, well I better get back to looking for my sister! Have fun watching the humans!” Taeyong chirped, swimming away from him and heading towards the open ocean as Hannah’s boat took off.
Kun’s instincts told him to follow Taeyong and see what he was up to, that he wasn’t actually looking for the missing mermaid, like he said he was. Although, he did misjudge just how fast the redhead was. It worked out for the stealth portion of following, but no so much for keeping up with him. It was clear that Taeyong was very adept at speed.
Eventually, Taeyong turned towards an island and swam towards that. Kun noticed Hannah’s boat was still in the open ocean and people began to jump off the side of it and went diving. Nervousness started to bubble in his stomach. He really didn’t want to get caught. Knowing full well he should just give up on chasing Taeyong, he continued to follow him until he turned into an underwater cove. Kun slowed down and instead focused on listening to what Taeyong was doing. He wracked his brain for an excuse if he got caught by him.
“You wench! You said you had taken care of her! Why didn’t you tell me you left her alive?!” Kun was brought out of his thoughts by Taeyong screaming, “My clan is looking everywhere for her because one of the youngest had a vision she was still alive and with a merman of a different clan!”
“Lower your voice boy. I may not have killed the rat, but I made sure to keep her away of your kind. Your youngling is making it up.”
“See, that’s how I know you’re lying because there is a male from another clan hanging around here.”
“I can assure you I know what I’m doing. I’m assuming by the anger you’re displaying that you’ve seen her. As a human.”
“She may look human, but I don’t know if I trust your damned spells. That one you had me give my dreaded mother didn’t kill her either.”
“Listen here, fish. I have never cared about your familial problems. I got an experiment out of this deal. Now leave before I turn you into sushi.”
Kun’s eyebrows furrowed. That voice sounded familiar.
“This isn’t over, human. I will make sure she dies. I won’t let her take my crown.”
“Lay a finger on her and rest assured, your crown will never make it to you.”
“Hannah, are you sure you’ll be okay by yourself?” Tori asked, fitting her flippers on.
“Of course, just don’t break the camera. It was really expensive!”
“Why do you think Aaron isn’t holding it?”
“Hey! I heard that!” Aaron’s voice came through the radio.
“That was the point!” Hannah laughed.
Tori grabbed the camera off the table and made her way to the side of the boat before jumping into the water. Hannah looked at the tv and got her notebook out, ready to take notes. Luckily for her, she never had to set a toe in the water to study the wildlife in the ocean. She just had to send her two classmates that she’s friends with into the water with a camera.
“Tori, that starfish, am I seeing it wrong or is it feeding on a salmon?”
“Yes, ma’am. It looks like the salmon was injured by what I’m guessing is a sea lion. I wonder why it didn’t eat all of it.”
Kun swam a little ways away to hide before Taeyong would see him at the beginning of the cove.
“It probably got spooked by something.” Kun heard Aaron’s voice coming from nearby and his eyes widened.
He was between a rock and a hard place now. He’ll either be spotted by a human or by a potentially homicidal merman. Looking around frantically, he tried to find another place he could hide. Aaron crested the rock formation a little ways away and got distracted by the coral residing on it.
“Oh wow, Tor, come look at this!”
“What is it?”
“A massive brain coral!”
Kun needed to move, now.
“Let me see!” Hannah exclaimed into her radio.
This was the downside to being terrified of the ocean. She absolutely loved everything to do with it, but at the same time, she about had an anxiety attack when her professor instructed them to go discover what flora and fauna lived in the nearby coral reef. She thought about just saying screw it and put on diving gear, but knew if she did she’d panic.
“Hold your horses, woman. I still have to make my way over to him.” Tori laughed, pointing the camera at how far away Aaron was from her.
As she swam closer to him, Hannah swore she could see the flash of a teal tail swim behind him. Leaning forward, she squinted her eyes as if that would let her see clearer on the monitor.
“Aaron, what just swam next to you?”
“What do you mean? Nothing.”
“I just saw a teal tail behind you.”
“A teal tail?” Aaron’s voice sounded super confused.
Kun’s heart was beating out of his chest. He had to make a move to hide in a cave behind Aaron. It was way too small for them to fit in with all their gear, but he knew it was a risky move.
“Are you sure you’re not seeing stuff, Hannah?” Aaron laughed.
Suddenly a pair of hands appeared at the mouth of the cave. Kun tried his hardest to squeeze himself further back, but it was too narrow even for him. He just had to hope they wouldn’t see him.
“Could it have been a parrot fish?” Tori asked.
“No, it was way bigger than a parrot fish would be. I can’t think of what would be that big and that color.” Hannah said, frustrated. She so wanted to jump into the water and go investigate herself.
“Stick the camera in this cave, Tori,” Aaron suggested.
“No, I can already tell that’s too small for whatever I saw. Um, just look around. There has to be something.”
“Uh actually, I think we should leave,” Tori said, sounding nervous.
“Apparently it’s lunchtime for the sharks and I may not be as much of a baby about the ocean as Hannah, but I don’t want to test my luck with sharks.”
“Hey!” Hannah exclaimed.
“Alright, we’re heading back.” Aaron laughed, his hands disappearing from the mouth of the cave. Kun could hear them talking as they got further away.
Sighing in relief, he relaxed and noticed he had been pressing his body against a very annoyed looking octopus and immediately moved away from it. Not that it understood him, he silently apologized to it. Suddenly, the light streaming in from the mouth of the cave was blocked. This time by a bright head of hair.
“Oh! What are you doing here?” Taeyong asked, looking at Kun with curious eyes, “Ah! Did you follow the humans’ boat and almost got caught?”
Taeyong’s voice sounded like he knew exactly what happened. That Kun had followed him and not the humans. Kun needed to think up something, any excuse he could so that the redhead wouldn’t try to bait him into admitting that he followed him.
“Where my clan is from there are no humans, especially diving ones.”
“Oh, yeah that must’ve been your first time hiding from them. My clan lives pretty close to the land so humans snoop in our land all the time. Luckily they can’t ever fit in the entrances, neither can their equipment. But, man, did you get lucky. I saw you swim in here and the humans headed this way so I made the sharks come over here.”
“Wait, you MADE them?”
“Well yeah. I found some and brought them over.”
“How?!” Kun was shocked. His clan had fish as pets, but they were all small fish. Even then, they could only train them to do small tasks like clearing out sand from hovels and things like that.
“Ah, secret of my clan I’m afraid. Can’t reveal that to you.” Taeyong winked, holding out his hand to Kun. “Come on, let’s get out of here. I’m afraid I can’t tell them to not eat you and the octopus looks pretty pissed off you’re in its home.”