07 ~ towards the deep
"Wake up, Seung Ho! Wake up, please!" You shook the unconscious figure. When you woke up today, you found yourself at the beach, in Seung Ho's arms.
As much as you wanted to stay in his embrace longer, the fact that you did not wake up in bed freaked you out. Instead of greeting Seung Ho when his eyes opened, you asked him what happened.
"Gosh, it's morning already!" He sat up immediately, arms automatically moving to pull you close. "Let's get you away from here." He said darkly, moving to stand up. You followed, only to feel your legs giving way. "Uh oh."
Instead of legs, your tail was seen. "Was I - did I come out here at night again?"
Seung Ho nodded, his dark eye circles extra prominent today. "You sat here singing, all night long."
Stuttering, choking, coughing, you asked to confirm his words. "I was singing? I... I don't sing."
"You did last night. It was beautiful." Despite his sleep-laced voice, he smiled at the memory of your songs.
"So you sat here listening to me?"
"I had to keep an eye on you in case you decided to go for a swim and never come back."
"I'm a mermaid, Seung Ho." You paused for a moment, thinking how surreal it was to say those words. "I won't drown."
"You might never come back." He pointed out bitterly, hand suddenly moving to hold yours. "I don't know - we, don't know what's happening besides the fact that you're a mermaid. I don't want to risk you going out there where I can't go - and losing you."
"Don't say things like that, Seung Ho. I might misunderstand and think it's a confession." You smirked, hoping he did not notice you were shivering.
Seung Ho's eyes widened slightly at your words, his lips parting as if to say something - then closing again to curve into a smile. "Let's get you home."
Taking a look at your tail, you pouted. "Please let me have my legs back for awhile." You pleaded to it, not really knowing what you were doing. Immediately, the scales started melding into each other, into a transparent layer - and you soon saw your legs again.
Grinning, you looked to Seung Ho for a confirmation if what happened was not just your imagination. He gave you a thumbs up and offered a hand to help you up.
Your legs felt like jelly, but at least - they were legs. Now that you could at least change them back by will (or at least you hoped it was not just pure luck), things were starting to look up.
"Explain to me again why we're here?" Seung Ho whispered, trying to keep up with you as you moved through the many aisles of books.
"I remember reading about mermaid legends of this town." You answered, and stopped abruptly at one of the aisles. "There - all the books about folklore and mermaid I could ever need."
Pulling out a handful of books, you handed them to Seung Ho and took another handful. Heading to a table nearby, the two of you spent the entire afternoon with your heads buried in books.
Occasionally, you would return a book to the shelf and bring more back with you. Seung Ho would roll his eyes, and you would stick your tongue out at him. You felt so comfortable with and around him, it made you think that: even if this whole mermaid business went wrong, you would be contented with the amount of time you got to spend with Seung Ho.
"Look, look." Seung Ho tapped your shoulder and pointed to a page he was reading. "It says that there are mermaids who are able to walk on land - but they're born out of taboo - wow, there's taboos in the Merhuman-verse?"
You looked at Seung Ho, not sure whether to laugh or to be serious with the terms he used. "I wonder how come I have legs now then. If I was born with a tail, I would not be part of that taboo - oh, bother, what else does it say? Anything about dead mermaids who come back to life?"
"No, but it does say that they don't die of natural death."
"Really? They're immortal?"
"In a sense. They don't age at all after reaching a certain age, and only die if they are killed by other mermaids or themselves."
Pausing for a moment, you mused over Maris' story about you committing suicide. If you had done it - did that mean you wanted to die really badly? Or were you forced to do so? "What else, what else?" Your eyes scanned the pages.
Seung Ho laughed at your impatience, at how you tapped your feet repeatedly and inched closer towards him and the book. "Hey." He whispered, turning to look into your eyes.
"Hmmm?" You were trying to see what else the book had to offer, and did not notice how close your face was to his. When you finally realized, it was when Seung Ho's lips were touching yours.
It was subtle and quick, almost like it never happened.
Moving closer, you whispered in his ear. "Did you just kiss me at a public library?"
"It was the only way to pull you back into the human world - my world."
"Yo - you're not making sense." Flustered, you grabbed the book from him and read it upright, so that he could not see your face.
He pulled it away from you, letting out a small sigh. "I know you want to know about your past, so do I, really. But I don't want to lose you in all that curiosity. As much as I want the meet the mermaid I once knew - I like you as you are now, regardless of whether you remember being her or not. I don't want to lose you like I lost her."
"You like me?" You teased.
"As you are now." He corrected your implied assumption.
"Thanks, Seung Ho. Nothing better for a fan to hear than to know her idol's got her back. But I want to get to the bottom of this all. All these weird late-night-sea-trips are freaking me out."
"And so we will get to the bottom of it, but relax a bit. When you lean over so close, I can't concentrate on reading."
"Aww, why not?" You tried hard not to grin. "Am I that distracting?" Fluttering your lashes, you giggled.
"Do that again and you'll regret it." Seung Ho warned teasingly. Grabbing the book, he resumed his reading. "Let finish going through this book."
"Is there anything inside that mentions if mermaids were evil?"
Seung Ho gave you a weird look. "Not really, although mermaids are often mistaken for the sirens who sang to lure sailors to their deaths."
"Where am I going to get more answers?" You sighed. Flipping another book open and scanning through paragraph after paragraph of text.
Your eyes spotted the mentions of mermaid taboos, and you read through the paragraph properly - even though your heart was thumping louder than usual.
'There are legends of children born of a mermaid and a human. They are exceptionally beautiful, yet never really belong to the sea or the land. If the child was born in the water, the child would have a tail. If on land, a pair of legs.
When the child reaches a certain age, legs would turn to tail, and tail to legs when needed.
Despite having both the ability to be on land and underwater, a child of such parentage would sought after both the land and the sea - but could never fully find his place in either world.'
You flipped to the back to see who the author of the book was, to write of such things - but there was no name. Strange.
Regardless, it was the first time you had reach such stories, and continued scanning the pages.
'There have been many accounts of merfolk who have appeared on land. They have been known to walk amongst humans out of curiosity, sometimes out of amusement.
Like how humans have been fascinated by these water-dwellers, there are legends of merfolk who were obsessed with humans as well.'
"Are you... conscious?" Seung Ho waved his hand in front of your face.
"Oh! Hi. Sorry I didn't see you - and yes, I am." You smiled. "You came out to check if I was going to sleep walk again, didn't you?"
"Every night since I met you." He confessed. "In fact, I'm so used to you walking blindly into the water or singing, like last night - I'm quite shocked to see you so normal."
You both laughed at the irony. "So, what brings you out here? I thought the beach is off limits?"
"I've been thinking." You drew circles in the sand with your toes, your slippers left unattended a few feet behind.
"What about?" Seung Ho kicked sand over to your toes, blurring out the circles you had drawn. Then reached out to hold your hand. You turned to look at him, wondering what brought about the sudden action. "Just in case you're about to run off without warning." He mumbled, not looking at you.
Smiling, you explained that you would rather explore the sea than to wait for answers. "I want to meet the mermaid who claimed to be my sister - or any mermaid. I want to ask them what they know about this... about me."
"Wouldn't that be dangerous? According to your aunt, you committed suicide, and revived you - I can't think of many reasons one would want to leave the world. If you were unhappy then, are you sure you want to go back now?"
"If I had a reason to cease existing then, I think I would choose the same now. I can't stand running away from it - whether it's the truth, or just knowing about myself. I don't think I chose to be reborn, especially if I knew that the sea would always call me back." You confessed confidently, even though you were actually afraid and worried about leaving.
For someone who did not have much in the world, it was easy to make decisions like this - but there was Maris, and Seung Ho. Now, more than before - you wanted to be with him. To talk to him, listen to his musings, hear his laugh, know more of his mysterious yet charming self.
Now, more than before - you could never tell him how much he meant to you. Not when you had already decided to throw everything aside.
"I'd be really sad if you were gone." Seung Ho confessed, still not looking at you.
Laughing weakly, you mentioned that his holiday would have to end anyway, and he would be the one leaving then.
"At least then, I know I can visit. I'd know we're living under the same sky. I'd know there's someone out there cheering me on as Yang Seung Ho from MBLAQ."
Tip-toeing to place a fast kiss on his cheek, you assured him that no matter what happened from now on - you would be cheering for him - not just because of MBLAQ, but because if who he was.
"Is there no changing your mind?" He asked hastily, grip on your hand tightening.
"Until I find out the truth, no."
"Have you told your aunt?"
"I left her a letter."
"What? Shouldn't you tell her properly? Maybe then she would answer your questions, maybe then -" His words were cut short when you gave him a sudden embrace. Breathing in his scent, you told him not to worry. "I've already made up my mind. Don't make it so hard to leave, Seung Ho." You half-pleaded.
"I like you. I really do. I wish you could stay. I want you to stay." His arms tightened around you.
"Please, Seung Ho." I like you too. I wish I could stay with you. "I think I should leave now."
"Is this farewell?" Seung Ho reluctantly released his arms. You did not have to look at him to know he was crying. There was so much pain and bitterness in his voice - you could not bear to look at him.
"Can I tell myself it's not? That it's just a temporary goodbye, like how I tell my friends at school goodbye, and see you tomorrow?"
"Do your friends know about this?"
"I've told Aunt Maris what to tell them in my absence." You stifled a sob.
"Stay. Please." Seung Ho grabbed your shoulders, now - finally - looking into your eyes with his tear-filled ones.
"I will, when - if I see you again. Why are you holding onto someone who doesn't know who she is?"
"Because it hurts to see her go. It has nothing to do with who she really is."
"I hope not." You forced a grin. "Let me go, Seung Ho. Your grip is hurting me." Your tears are breaking my heart.
"I'll see you, when I see you." You took a step back when his grip on you softened. Touching his fingers, you closed your eyes for a moment - wondering if you would regret, wondering if you should stay and forever be haunted by the mysteries of your past.
No. Your heart said no, your mind said no.
Remembering the touch of your skin on his, his beautiful eyes - and trying not to remember the anger and sadness in them - you whispered goodbye and dived into the sea.