Firefly Fish: Ch 23

Firefly Fish by Chapel Orahamm, water with bubbles


“This mean I need to find you another shole?” Saeesar slipped into a current that sent us away from the Gulf and Karis’s nesting ground.

“Well,” I hedged.

“I wonder if you like sweetwater eel.” He twisted his head in what I would equivalate to a cocked eyebrow.

“One from your home waters?” I had never had eel, salt or fresh.

“I remember some vaguely near a place called Samut Songkhram. The name sticks with me, it was a place my mother would tell me about, but I can’t say if I remember it, or just remember her talking of it. But, we have to go far to get there. We’re going to take this current down near where Tlanextic comes from and use that current to send us across the expanse to the other side of the world.

“Why go that far? We can take the canal. We’re aiming for Southeast Asia, right?” I stalled his movement.

“Canal? What canal?” He dodged a school of slow-moving black fish.

“The one the humans built about fifteen, twenty years ago, Bet-tah,” Tlanextic explained from behind us.

“It goes through the land?” Saeesar rolled to his back. Tlanextic swam faster to float over him while they carried on their conversation. He told us to ignore his wound in favour of letting it stop on its own. The red haze had stopped a few miles back, like he predicted it would.

“It and their large boats do. They raise and lower the water in these massive pools. It lets them move the boats up and over the land all the way from this ocean to the one on the other side. Marin’s right; it would be faster.”

“Will they see us?”

“Not if we keep to the shadow of the ships. Not like humans bother seeing us as anything other than fish anymore anyways, Bet-tah.”

“You’re not wrong about that.” Saeesar’s fins deflated in what I estimated to be a sigh. “To not have to travel near the ice realms, or through the storm seas,” Saeesar daydreamed.

“All it does is send us through a different ocean. I can’t tell you if the other side is worse or better for going past the Horn, but I know of some of the Antomnous who use the canal to seek out warmer oceans as the currents change with the sun’s passage.”

“That will put us quite far, though, from your siblings, Marin. Did you not want to meet with your progenitor? I would think there are questions you would have for him, if anything to have a community of those like you?”

“I think, at this point, I’m just going with the flow. Seeing what the next current will bring. Maybe that’s how I find my place in the Antomnos.” The farther from Grabble I went, the less anxious I was to find my place in life. The less I felt I needed to become something. Maybe because I had been labelled a Grim Reaper for want of a better word. Artist wasn’t quite twisted into my thread of fate like I thought.

The channel hurtled us out of the desert and into a thick conglomeration of low shelf reefs that we followed along the edge of what I assumed to be Mexico. Saeesar and Tlanextic corralled squid for me when I could no longer see Antomnous from fish. I hoped that as I matured into this world I would be capable of determining my food sources when I was hungry. The sunset against the ceiling of water above us and I stared in awe at the pink and gold shimmering waves while the Bet-tah and Eagle Ray argued over what would be best for sleeping arrangements that evening.

A sudden silence drew my attention from the fractured sunset to the two large creatures staring at me. “What?”

Saeesar’s fins were fully fluffed, and he’d curled himself up to hide enough behind them that it reminded me of when he first gave me a dowry of pearls. I bemoaned myself, having realized that I had left the messenger bag full of gems back in a crevasse near the arena.

Tlanextic dug an elbow into Saeesar’s ribs. “Ask him before we have any more issues with creatures interfering.”

“Alright, alright.” Saeesar pushed away from Tlanextic.

“Not alright. If he gets bitey with other creatures interrupting you two, then you need to get this thing figured out.” Tlanextic chastised. “There’s plenty of space around here, or there’s rivers up along the beach edge if you insist on sweetwater, Bet-tah.”

My ears turned warm as I realized what Tlanextic and Saeesar had been discussing. I pushed off of my coral seat and drifted over to the two. Saeesar caught onto me as the waves pushed me into him. “I-um, that is…” I stuttered.

“You are concerned?” Saeesar’s glance crawled up the lights on my arms.

“I-“ my voice strangled as I failed at trying to explain my predicament with Tlanextic staring at us so openly. “Privacy?” I whispered, barely louder than the wake of the waves above us.

Tlanextic’s eyes got wider at the comment as did Saeesar’s. Shrugging, the Eagle Ray waved a hand toward an outcrop of reef covered in purple and red mounds. “I’ll be sleeping over there whenever you two figure yourselves out.”

“Did I say something weird?” I still couldn’t get my voice to come up above a hollow whisper.

“Well, no, not entirely. Most mating displays are out in the open, but that’s not to say some of the Antomnous don’t find their own burrows in the recesses. I take it you would rather not enjoy each other in the reef as you are?” Saeesar draped his fins around me until we were cocooned in frills of black and thin white stripes.

“Human culture, or at least what I was raised in, was pretty modest. Not something we saw of each other. The most I’d ever seen of anyone naked before the dynllyr was the lingerie drawing in the Sears catalogue at Christmas. Other than livestock, watching anyone have-have-have-” I couldn’t say it.

“Then, what of a private channel in one of the rivers Tlanextic mentioned? Or a cave? Would something like that do? You seemed keen at the island near the council?” Saeesar offered options.

“I’m still keen, just not entirely thrilled with having other creatures see me. I’d take a river over a cave. Last cave I was in, you disappeared.”

“Then let us find a river.”

“You insist on these garments.” Saeesar’s fingers feathered across the waistband of my trousers.

“It’s what I grew up with. It feels weird otherwise. I know it’s not common in the Antumnos, but it’s what I prefer,” I stuttered, aware of his proximity, aware of the driving need that’d been pressing at us from every side.

“Are you sure you want this, Marin Goranich?” Saeesar whispered, his fins wrapping protectively around me as his fingers trailed, finding my belt buckle. He fumbled it.

I snorted, blowing bubbles in a mimic of his laugh. “Here, let me help.” I pulled the pin from the belt hole and the buttons on the fly, assuming he probably had little experience with its method. I stalled. Tingles ran under my skin as my heart jumped in my chest.

“You’re singing and scared?” Saeesar carefully unwrapped himself from me, the cool water outside of his protection raising hairs on my arms.

“A bit of a thing from growing up.” I hesitated.

“Whatever makes you comfortable,” he reassured.

A moment to think, and I peeled myself out of the wet material, letting it float past Saeesar to settle on the riverbed. “You make me comfortable. And I did agree to a dowry.” 

Saeesar ducked at my mumbling, his fins fluffing in his version of an embarrassed blush. Naked, I floated, flicking wrists and feet through the water to keep me level with him. Slowly, waiting for my cues, he approached, fingers climbing from my hips, along my obliques, to my shoulders.

I melted into his touch, letting him drag me to his chest. My rising desire pressed between us. He nibbled along the edge of my collarbone, a hand trailing from my shoulders to my waist. Electricity snapped across my senses as his thumb brushed along my tip. Muscles tensed down my back.

I wanted to watch. I wanted to see his expression. I wanted to disappear to the sensations.

Finding my perch, knees squeezing his sides precariously, I slid my hands through his hair. His tail wrapped and twisted, nestling me further into his hold. I had wanted this moment for years. “You’d take an old Bet-tah fighter? When you could have anyone in the seas or land?” Saeesar followed the flashing of my lights, kisses splashing across my arms and chest.

“I’m choosey that way.” I eased to his intensity, sucking in hellfire as he encircled my length. Kneading into his shoulders, I ducked to kiss him. “And I’m choosing you.”

Tension eased from his frame at the admission.

“If you keep playing, though, I’m going to be done well before you get to the first act.” I laid a cautioning hand over his to stall his movement.

“Sorry.” He loosened his grip.

“Don’t stop, but…” I trailed, waiting for him to catch up with what I wanted.

“But?” he blinked, lost.

“Maybe I should have asked what a Mate Claim actually looks like for Bet-tah?” I pulled on the vestiges of my patience before I found heaven. It wasn’t going to take much. “Is there an instinct for this with you?”

“Do you want me now?” his voice cracked at my question.

I nodded, heat swamping me from ears to fingertips. Every light dilated, casting our dark stone fortress into sharp relief. Stunned, his lips parted as he stared at my reaction in fascination. I took that moment to kiss him, testing his tongue with my own. “You fluff, I light up.”

He hesitated at the interaction, careful with my insistence. I drew away to let him catch himself. “You’re like playing with lava,” he admitted, his nails dragging along my shoulder blades to watch me arch into him.

“This is driving me crazy.” My gasps were turning into flutters.

“How so?” He ran his nails along my hips.

“There’s something for Krakens, or maybe it’s just me, but I…” I trailed off, scared to admit to the intense desire I had to test the skin along his trap.

Tiny bubbles emitted from Saeesar’s gills as he ducked. “Your Mate Claim is getting to you? Your songs are not so subtle at the moment. I’ve set mine already.”

I furrowed my brow in confused surprise. We hadn’t done anything yet.

Another patter of bubbles. “They’re along your shoulder blades, and your…um…what are these?” He ran his fingers across delicious points of heat and electricity on my hips right below my obliques, sending me throbbing. Another gasp of hellfire, and I wanted that heat to take me higher. I bowed to the sensation, resting my head against his chest in a desperate bid for a moment of understandable calm. 

“In me,” I whispered past that desperation.

“What?” Saeesar twisted, fingers trailing down my chin so he could see my eyes.

I turned mute at the question, suddenly embarrassed. I wanted to feel him. Around me. His protection. His warmth. I wanted all of him all at once, and my voice refused.

“If you’re sure?” Saeesar shifted his tail until I was wrapped within his fins, weight pressing against my sensitivity.

“I’m sure of having you; I’m not sure why I’m desperate to nibble on you. I don’t want to eat you. It’s not the same feeling as when I’m hungry or protecting myself. What is this?” I tensed, digging fingers into his shoulders at his pressure.

“You going to be alright with me?” He eased up. 

Shifting one of his hands to my hip over his red mate claim, I encouraged him to help the transition. “Gently. I won’t break. Just…” I drew in a searing breath and tried to relax for him.

“Asked Pursha, while you slept, about mate claiming Kraken. I wasn’t sure what to expect. She said most will leave suction or hook marks if they have tentacles. Some are known to bite a piece out of their mate. The scent is supposed to be different from them claiming food. I can only hope that holds true with Pucah Kraken children. At the moment, I’m willing to take that risk just for the look on your face right now.” He took my direction, and heat seared through me as I finally relaxed to him. He waited as I adjusted and caught my breath in the sweet water. “As you said, you’re wanting to ‘nibble’ me?”

Swallowing, I shifted, wanting a bit of movement. “I would find it problematic.”

“You keep wig-wiggling like that; we’re both going to be experiencing problems.” Saeesar met my movement and drew me closer. “Do what comes naturally to you. We’re still learning.”

I let temptation override me and drifted to the scattering sparks. I had looked for that close intimacy for years, expecting never to feel hands holding me as I found the edge of paradise. What I had not expected was gentle warmth, protection to catch me when I fell, to support me when I rose. Heaven was a pale comparison to the paradise I found in Saeesar’s rhythm. Matching his intensity, I found myself drawn to leaving innumerable marks across any part of him that came within my reach as we wrapped around each other.

His nails bit into me as he found his edge and skimmed along it for what felt like an eternity. Pressure built in my base and the edge I had hoped to ride along with him came crashing down, leaving me sensitive to his persistence and finding the edge again well before the white crescent had created reflections in the watery ceiling above us.

Catching moonshine for breath in that cool river, I smirked at the after-effects of our Mate Claim. A flair of phosphorescent blue marks ran from his neck to his side fins, circling across chest and abs. They glowed faintly in the dark compared to my own lights.

“I’m inclined to apologize, but that was really good.” I ducked, losing count after fifty round teeth marks across his surface.

    “You gonna go all bitey on me every time we do that?” He twisted himself around to try to see all the rings.

    “Uh…maybe? I mean, well? You did say something about being spotless way back when we first met. I think this probably resolves that, don’t you?” I hoped for humour. “Do they hurt?” I pulled up the charm I had thought of to heal Taigre’s wound to spread across a patch on his left side. The blue marks didn’t fade. “Oh, crap.”

    “Panicked singing, Marin Goranich.” Saeesar chuckled, pressing my hand to his skin. He tucked me into his embrace and ran a hand across the overly taut skin on my stomach. “They don’t hurt, and they don’t have the same smell like with Karis and Leviathan. It must be your way.”

“Your marks are red, though. Why are mine blue?”

“I’m not entirely sure. Think Tlanexit might know?”


“You all right?” He asked after the face I was making.

“Tender.” I rested a hand over his to still his caressing.

“Your songs have questions.”

“I look like a pregnant goat. This gonna go down? It’s…I don’t want to make you feel bad and say it hurts, but my skin’s stretched, and it’s pretty sore. Won’t mention what else is sore. That comes with the territory of a mini-jack and Clydesdale.”

“Might take a couple days?”

“What did you do?”

“Mate Claim?”

“That’s the stripes.”

“I mean, our fluids are sticky, if that’s what you’re asking about?” A dawning light flashed through his eyes. “This isn’t normal for humans?”

“Not even normal for land beasts, at least not livestock I’ve been around.”

“It’s that way with most Antomnous. Those that lay eggs and those who birth live young both have this kind of consistency. I am just much larger than you and should have taken care not to have you deal with all of me.” Saeesar’s fins told me he was ashamed.

“Husbandry lessons on merpeople. Not what I thought I’d be doing in my twenties, but here we are.” I rubbed at the bridge of my nose.

“Humans are not hermaphroditic by nature, yes?” Saeesar’s question caught me off-guard.

“Hermaphroditic?” It had been a long time since I heard that word.

“Able to switch their reproductive ability and sex-marking characteristics to fill in an empty niche or for purposes of courtship?” Saeesar’s fins were comfortable to lay into after our enjoyment of each other.

“No. Not that I’ve ever seen. There are those who are mentally born to the wrong physical body. I heard of them from my father when he met someone of two-spirits when he went to a trading post. But they can’t physically transform themselves. Clothing, hair styles, modified voice pitch, those types of things are what help them designate who they are.” I pushed at the side of my stomach, willing that tautness to abate. “Kraken?” Trepidation pattered around my heart as I fully understood where Saeesar was going with his line of questions.

“Sharpear Enope has a capacity. He and the male children sometimes have glands that females utilise, but otherwise, I’m not sure of any of the other Kraken.” Saeesar’s relief was almost palpable.

“Alright, so this is just gonna be a bit inconvenient with our love-making and not have me producing a million tadpoles, then, right?” I blanched at the sudden imagery.

“I- I don’t think so?”

“Is this the way of it with all Antomnous couples who mate outside of their clans? Having to figure out what version of screwed you are after-after ehem, screwing?”

He squeaked in a give-or-take way. “Haven’t heard of this ‘screwing’, but the imagery is enough for me to understand. Yeah. That’s pretty much the way of it.”

“If I was to do this to you…?” I let the statement hang.

“Some females of the Bet-tah clan can become male with the right motivation, but I already am male, so, no, I don’t think we would have the potential for children if I was instead to have you in me.” Saeesar stuttered, his fins going fluffy and flustered. “Humans give live birth, and Bet-tah lay eggs, and I can’t lay eggs, so I don’t think we have to worry then?”

“Probably something we should have talked about before I went all bitey on you, but that’s reassuring. Not doing things again until my stomach stops hurting, though, yeah?”

Saeesar nodded mutely, his fins going from fluff to pin-straight to fluff again as waves of embarrassment and shame switched places. I leaned into his hold, curled against his chest, and listened to water pass through his gills. “Wasn’t saying it to make you feel bad. Just setting up a bit of a boundary so I don’t get myself hurt. I didn’t think I’d ever find someone to-to-to.” I coughed. “To enjoy an evening with. And I did. I enjoyed this and want to again.”

He held me tighter, nuzzling his face into the top of my head. “Never thought I’d be so thankful for a storm as I am now.”

Chapel Orahamm (C) 2022-2023. All Rights Reserved.

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