happy (early) birthday, my favorite East Sea♥ you're giving us lots of contents, so i'm uploading this fic in advance to not clash~xD
Only God knows how Donghae managed to understand Hyukjae really needs to go to his own home, yet the merman only let him go when the other promised to come back the next day. Again, God knows how he understood that.
Hyukjae wasn’t sure Donghae understood his words, yet found himself coming there again the next day for real. He made sure to bring a few cucumbers with him and bought a few shrimps and even salmon for Donghae, thinking that fish would probably fit him better. He wasn’t sure though.
The man was extremely surprised to find the merman in the cave. He thought he’d live the food there as Donghae would probably go… no, swim… Well, move somewhere. But it seemed he’s been waiting for the man and literally beamed the moment the latter entered the cave.
“Hyokchae!” the merman chirped, and the other could only smile awkwardly.
“It’s Hyukjae, but hi, Donghae,” he said. “Been waiting for me?”
“Hyokchae and Donghae home!” came out a reply.
The man sighed, “Donghae’s home.”
The merman pouted, “No! Hyokchae and Donghae home!”
“For someone who can’t even speak properly you’re arguing with me way too well… Oh, thanks.”
Hyukjae had no time to get mad or anything because he soon noticed Donghae… made a place for him? The merman used an old t-shirt and wrapped it into the bag the man brought yesterday, then placed it on one of the stones in the cave, so now the place was more or less dry and definitely much softer. That was… thoughtful.
Donghae smiled, “For… for Hyokchae!”
Hyukjae’s eyes widened, “Just how many phrases do you know? I wonder whether we’d be able to understand each other one day…” He shook his head. “No, let’s not bring it to this point. I brought cucumbers, do you want some?”
The merman’s eyes sparkled, “Cucumbr?”
“Oh, you’ve gotten better with this word. That was fast.” Hyukjae took the cucumber out and gave it to Donghae, “For you.”
The merman frowned, “For… you? No for Donghae?”
The man couldn’t help but chuckled. Damn, being with that guy was entertaining.
“For you literally means for Donghae,” he said, yet the other was still confused. “Forget that. Good you understand this at least. For Donghae, of course it’s for Donghae.”
Donghae’s eyes sparkled again and he grabbed the cucumber, munching on it instantly, and Hyukjae couldn’t help but started watching him.
He had no excuses of coming here apart from the fact he was simply curious. Damn, he met a merman and that wasn’t a dream even! Those scales were real, and the man could still remember they felt like a true fish… which wasn’t the most pleasant revelation, but okay.
He knew it was probably dangerous to keep coming here as Donghae’s place could get exposed, but he also hoped there weren’t many people that liked to come here in the middle of winter and late in the evening after work, just like Hyukjae did for he wasn’t that free. The man understood it was a little dangerous, just like he wasn’t sure it was right to let Donghae get familiar with him because the man wasn’t sure he’ll manage to explain why he’ll have to leave and never come back one day… But apart from curiosity, he also felt some responsibility for that guy. Donghae couldn’t swim, right? Which meant he was extremely vulnerable… Could Hyukjae help him with that? He had no idea how to teach the merman swimming, shouldn’t these creatures know better? But again… who knew anything about mermen?
Donghae rejected shrimps, and that was the thing Hyukjae couldn’t foresee. He then saw the merman refused to eat the seafood the other brought, and that only made him even more curious. How could a sea creature not eat seafood? Were mermen… vegetarians or sort of?
“Hyokchae, cucumbr?” Donghae pleaded, and the man showed him yet another bag he brought.
“No more cucumbers. You ate all of them.”
“Oh,” the merman got upset as if he understood each and every word. His eyes sparkled the next moment and he pointed at his head, “Hyokchae!”
The man quirked an eyebrow, “What, you want me to pat you again? Then ask for it properly.”
Donghae blinked, too confused to utter anything. Hyukjae sighed. He’s been sighing so often ever since he met that guy.
“Not ‘Hyukjae’. Don’t just say my name whenever you need something, use actual words. Since your language skills are very basic…” He touched Donghae’s head and said, “That’s called a pat. Pat. P-a-t. Pat. If you want me to pat you, say ‘Pat Donghae’, and I’ll do it. Got it? Pat Donghae. Pat Donghae.”
Donghae’s been listening to him very carefully, yet it was hard for him to understand what was Hyukjae trying to teach him. That’s why, to give the guy yet another example, the man grabbed the merman’s hand in his own, and then placed Donghae’s palm on his head, saying, “Pat Hyukjae.” He let the merman’s hand go and then reached out to pat Donghae’s head, saying, “Pat Donghae. See the difference?”
He repeated the actions a few times until Donghae reached his hand out himself, looking a little hesitant yet excited, and touched the man’s forehead, it gently, “Pat Hyokchae?”
Hyukjae hoped there will be the day when his name won’t be twisted like this, yet smiled and said, “Yes, pat Hyukjae.” He placed his own palm on Donghae’s head, “Pat Donghae.”
Donghae giggled, feeling extremely happy he finally understood more. His head was hurting a little, but the guy both couldn’t describe it and felt too happy for that. That’s why he only said, “Hyokchae, pat Donghae!”
“Now that sounded like a proper sentence,” the man smiled and gladly did what Donghae asked him for. “Can’t believe this is the first sentence I taught you.”
But apparently that was how their conversations had to be. If that only made sense… Hyukjae actually discovered Donghae’s personality was on a soft side? He didn’t understand everything humans could do, but he definitely loved affection and all the nice things, which was peculiar. Was the world of mermen (and mermaids?) this advanced they could have feelings and everything, too? Maybe they could talk even, considering the fact Donghae said his name was Haeshoo, whatever that could mean. So, they had names, probably? Or that’s how their kind was called?..
There were so many questions Donghae wasn’t ready to reply yet, but Hyukjae was determined.
He had to teach that merman how to speak, at least a little. That’s how he’d be able to understand it when Hyukjae’ll try to teach him how to swim (the man thought that throwing the guy to the water would make him gain some trust issues, so they had to learn how to communicate first), and then… Then Hyukjae will be able to leave. Yeah.
As sad as it sounded, Hyukjae knew they won’t be able to stay together forever. Helping Donghae like that was already quite troublesome, but he really felt responsible for that fish and, well, curious. When will he be given a chance to spend some time with a real merman again? So, he’ll teach Donghae how to speak, at least a little, then will teach him how to swim and leave. That’s how the man will both be able to help him and satisfy his own curiosity, Hyukjae figured.
Yeah. That sounded like a plan.
That plan wasn’t easy to fulfill though.
Donghae was a fast learner, yet he’s got quite a temper. He only wanted to learn things he was interested in, but was so reluctant to learn about things he hasn’t seen and couldn’t use. The merman almost broke Hyukjae’s phone even, he pushed it during one of their so-called lessons. The guy’s eyes were hurting because of the bright screen, so he became all moody and almost made the poor phone sink in the salty water, almost making Hyukjae snap.
The man managed to hold his device though, so he only breathed in relief instead of getting angry. Well… no one said raising a merman was easy, right? Kids don’t really want to study too, so no wonder Donghae’s been acting like this. His head was hurting due to all new information too, and the merman didn’t fail to indicate it by pointing at his head and whining. That’s how they learned the phrase ‘Head hurts’.
And that’s when the man learned that the merman could be cunning, too.
Hyukjae managed to make Donghae study more by praising him. He was patting the merman (and trust him, he never though he could get so intimate with someone like Donghae) and praising him whenever he did well, started giving him avocado as a reward (he soon discovered the merman cherished avocados even more than cucumbers, though he suspected that only happened because the word ‘avocado’ was easier to pronounce than the word ‘cucumber’) and everything. That’s how they grew quite comfortable with all those touches pretty fast, especially when Hyukjae was getting cold and didn’t mind Donghae staying closer to him than needed because the latter was a living heater. The man only had to bring towels with himself to help the merman to get dry, and the guy would then lean on Hyukjae’s knees as his legs always were cold due to the fact he kept them in water, and voila – it was getting warmer like that. The scene almost looked cute.
That’s why when Donghae injured himself one day – Hyukjae brought a toy to keep the merman entertained during his absence, yet the guy didn’t understand its purpose and broke it quite soon, causing his index finger bleed – the man was fast to react. He cleaned the wound with water he brought for drinking and used a napkin to stop the bleeding and, more out of habit as he was used to act like that around kids and it wasn’t hard to think about Donghae as of one since he’s been teaching the merman, kissed it, saying, “Hope it won’t hurt anymore.”
That broke something inside Donghae. That’s how, whenever he couldn’t earn some affection for any reason (mostly when he was lazy and Hyukjae was unpleased with his actions), the merman used the ‘Hyokchae, head hurts’ trick, hoping the man will fall for it and give him a kiss.
Hyukjae did fall for it, but only a few times. He soon figured everything out, and told Donghae he will kiss him only if he’s hurt for real. The merman ended up sulking for the rest of the day.
Yeah, it definitely wasn’t easy to raise a merman.
However, despite everything, Donghae’s progress was obvious. He was a little lazy and often wanted to talk about things he liked only, but at least they now could have a proper conversation sometimes. With limited vocabulary and about something simple only, yes, but it only took Donghae a little longer than a week to become like that, and Hyukjae was quite positive about their achievements. He was getting a little tired coming here every evening after work and during weekends even, gladly his friends were busy enough to not notice his absence yet, but the man knew that couldn’t continue forever. So he was happy Donghae was progressing this fast. Maybe they could be done with the swimming part in a month or so…
“Oh, beautiful,” Donghae said all of a sudden when Hyukjae was showing him pictures on his phone. The merman hated his phone, so the man made sure he was only going to show him pretty and bright pictures today to get the most of the guy’s attention. “What that?”
His grammar was a little broken too, but Hyukjae was extremely happy Donghae now knew how to ask simple questions.
“That’s cherry blossoms. They’re pretty, right?” He looked at the confused merman. “Pretty is beautiful, but cute beautiful. We’ve learned the word ‘cute’ yesterday, right?”
Donghae frowned, but soon nodded eagerly, “Donghae cute!”
Don’t ask. Hyukjae couldn’t avoid teaching him this.
“Yes, Donghae’s cute. And pretty is cute beautiful, understand?”
The merman frowned again, “Donghae… pretty?”
“Ah, what’s with you!” Hyukjae chuckled. “Learn how to be humble! You always associate the best things with yourself.” He patted the guy’s head still. “But yes, Donghae can be pretty too. You’re cute, beautiful, pretty, but also handsome and…”
The man bit his lip. He wanted to say ‘y’ because, well, either due to constant workout as the merman’s been using his arms to move around or for some other reasons, the guy’s biceps were quite… nice. His body (well, the part that didn’t include tail) looked quite nice overall and would definitely be considered y, but he suddenly felt a little wrong. Could he even call him y? Isn’t it the same as calling a fish y?
Hyukjae shook his head. No, he already made a decision that Donghae wasn’t an animal, he was a person. Not human, but a person. He already grasped basic feelings like happiness and sadness, showed empathy once (he looked very concerned when Hyukjae came sneezing and coughing one day – cons of staying in cold water for too long) and could freaking talk. He was more like human, that was undeniable. But the man still felt a little weird. Maybe he simply needed more time to get used to the fact he’s spending time… with no one but a merman, yeah.
“About cherry blossoms,” the man changed the subject suddenly. “Do you like cherry blossoms?”
He pointed at the screen to make sure Donghae understood what they were talking about. The latter nodded, “Like.”
Hyukjae smiled, “Once it’s spring, I’ll get them for you if you want.”
Donghae’s eyes sparkled again as he uttered, “Want!”
Of course he knew that word.
The man chuckled and was about to say something, but then…
Then he suddenly wondered… will he still be coming here in spring? Cherry blossoms bloom at the end of March, but… he didn’t plan to stay with Donghae that long. It was almost February, yet spending two more months with him… wasn’t something the man thought he could do.
“Maybe you’ll see them yourself one day,” he ended up saying and looked at his phone, which caused Donghae to tilt his head.
It became silent all of a sudden, but soon the merman said, “Like Hyokchae.”
The man decided to look at him and ask, “What?”
Donghae grinned, “Donghae like Hyokchae!”
Oh, that was sudden. Hyukjae actually didn’t even know how to respond because the other party was faster.
“Hyokchae like Donghae?” the guy asked, offering his puppy eyes again.
The man smiled, “Of course, Donghae. Hyukjae likes Donghae, too.”
It got scary the moment Hyukjae realized those words were slowly becoming true. Despite everything, he kept convincing himself one could get attached to a stray cat or puppy, too, but the thing is – Donghae wasn’t a cat, nor puppy. He was a person, just like Hyukjae mentioned before, and it was impossible to not get to like him once they finally managed to communicate better.
Not only affectionate, Donghae was very curious about things he was interested in. Hyukjae was showing him random videos, and the guy then made him watch kitty videos for hours once he saw a cat in one vlog. They also kept watching cooking videos (that’s why Hyukjae had to cook some dishes they saw, all just to please Donghae) and…
It was just adorable when he found out about kisses being used not only to help when you’re hurt. Apparently, even Donghae understood it was something intimate because he kept covering his eyes, but also peeking through the fingers while watching a compilation of kissing scenes Hyukjae found on YouTube. That was cute.
Donghae was cute. And the man never failed to tell him that. Days were passing, becoming weeks and, eventually, months. It’s been a month since they saw each other for the first time when the merman already knew how to describe Hyukjae.
Calm, patient, nice. Those were the words Donghae said were associated with Hyukjae when the man was explaining them.
Handsome, cool, funny. Even though Hyukjae could argue with funny – he was, but he didn’t have much time to joke around with Donghae, so why would the merman think so? – he still was flattered. Because the guy was associating the best words with the man, too. And that felt nice.
They were getting to know each other. Donghae didn’t understand why Hyukjae liked watching movies so much – the merman wasn’t interested in anything fictional since the day the man explained those things weren’t real – but they still watched a few movies together. Donghae even had a breakdown after watching ‘Titanic’ because Hyukjae said it happened in real life. The man failed to explain it didn’t mean they were watching the real events on the screen, so all he could do was hugging Donghae for almost an hour when he thought that ‘handsome boy’ died for real and his girlfriend (oh, how hard it was to explain that word) had to live without him.
That also caused a misunders