Sora was barely conscience as he slowly sank into the darkness below. Above him, his ship burned, though he could only see the dark silhouette and he wondered if he was seeing anything at all. Am I already dead? Am I really floating above but blind to the world of mortals? He tried to look around but his body refused to respond. He was like a marionette with their strings cut; limp, with no will or energy to move even his fingers, he waited for Death to arrive and whisk him away to whatever afterlife was true.
It was then that a blurred figure appeared. He thought for a moment it was a boy but with his vision becoming ever more faded, he could not know. Are you here to save me or drag me even lower? Something grabbed his wrist and he felt himself pulled up toward the surface. As he was rushed upwards, his eyes rolled back and he could hear Death’s sweet whisper in his head.
Come to me…
* * *
Domiq was stunned into silence at the sight of Antoni, Heir to the Empire, saving the yellow-haired boy. Since the end of the devastating Human-Mer War over a hundred centuries past, contact between the two worlds was forbidden. Though the humans had long forgotten the conflict that had claimed uncounted lives on both sides, the mer, who passed down their memoires from parents to children, still felt the scars left behind.
What are you doing? He finally asked as Antoni broke the surface. You, you can’t!
Come help me, Antoni said, seemingly oblivious to Domiq’s concern. We need to get him to land before he-
No, we need to leave him-
I’m not letting him drown, Domiq. Now, please, just help me.
Domiq wanted to argue and remind Antoni what a terrible idea saving a human would be but he knew his friend too well to waste the time and energy. Instead, he swallowed his doubts and swam to the surface.
Antoni had an arm around the boy and struggled to keep his head above water. There was debris all around from the flaming ship that had sailed off into the distance. Domiq could hear the men still onboard scream as the fire ripped through them, coldly extinguishing their lives. A strange taste filled his mouth and it took a moment to realize he could taste the burning flesh on his tongue.
Poor, unfortunate souls.
Domiq, quickly, help me get him onto this piece of driftwood. Antoni motioned to a solid piece of the ship. He did not want to and knew he should just swim away but the look of desperation in Antoni’s eyes struck him deep.
He grabbed the yellow-haired boy’s legs and hoisted him up. Once Antoni was sure he would not roll off, they moved behind the driftwood and pushed it and swam as fast as they could to the beach in the distance. By the time they arrived, the sun was already setting and the pinks of evening were fast disappearing into the blues of night.
Domiq stayed back while Antoni pushed the wood onto the sand and pulled himself beside the boy. He felt his heart break as Antoni swept his hair away from his face and looked at him like a first lover. Why couldn’t you ever look at me that way?
* * *
Antoni slid a finger across the boy’s lips, wished to feel them with his own. He was beautiful, with his soft, sun-kissed skin and light, curly hair and blue eyes that could light the darkest night. He could not believe the flood of emotions spilling out of him and he did not try to fight them. He wanted to spend forever with the boy.
But first, he wanted a kiss.
He leaned down, brushed his lips. He slipped a hand under his chin, tilted his head back and kissed him. It was gentle, sweet. It was also a rush like no other. While his tongue probed the boy’s mouth, his hand explored his flesh; the warmth sent a tangling through his fingers that traveled into his chest and exploded throughout his body.
Antoni felt as though he was just waking up and marveled at the possibilities laid out before him. And for the first time in his life, he wanted more than what fate had ready for him. He could cast aside his future as ruler of the empire, forget his engagement to Anasticia. He had younger brothers who could fill his roles.
He wanted to walk along the beach, hand in hand with the boy whose name he did not even know. He wanted to dance in the moonlight, sail off into the sunset, make love underneath the full moon. He wanted everything he should not.
He wanted him.
TO BE CONTINUED