“I don’t think Bucky likes me,” Tony said quietly, watching
a crab skitter over his toes.
Steve frowned, looking up from braiding some kelp together.
“He likes you, he’s just… Ever since he was attacked by that sea monster, he’s
“We were basking and he almost drowned me, Steve,” Tony
sighed, then bent down, hand dipping into the water to scoop up a starfish. He
flipped it over to look at its mouth. “Not to mention all the times he decides
I’ve been hogging you and just… takes you.”
“He’s getting better about that! And he didn’t mean to almost drown you. He didn’t know
you couldn’t breathe underwater!” Steve insisted, and then scowled and smacked
the brunet’s hand when he started poking lightly at the starfish’s mouth. “Quit
it. You’re freaking it out.”
Tony obediently tossed the starfish back into the water,
curling his toes into the sand. “If you say so, Steve.”
Steve sighed. “He is
“I believe you,” Tony lied, shifting his feet so the
sucker-marks that curled around the back of his left leg weren’t as visible.
Steve noticed anyway, and his face twisted into something
“Well,” Tony mumbled, leaning his elbows on his knees as the
blond was yanked under the surface of the water. “At least the noise you make
every time doesn’t stop being funny.”
It took several minutes, but eventually, Steve resurfaced.
He lifted his hands to shove his wet hair out of his eyes and sighed loudly,
annoyed. “Sorry. Bucky, say you’re sorry.”
Bucky surfaced so just his eyes were above the water. He
glared at Tony suspiciously.
“Say you’re sorry,”
Steve repeated icily.
Bucky ducked back under the water before popping back out
just long enough to blurt out, “Sorry, I guess.” Then he disappeared under the
surface again, probably to sulk.
Steve made another annoyed sound and rolled his eyes, then
looked up at Tony earnestly. “Listen, okay, we’re friends. I’m not going to
stop being your friend just because Bucky gets jealous sometimes. Do you
Tony curled his toes in the sand again, nodding. “Yeah.”
“I’m a person and I
get to decide who I spend time with. And I wanna spend time with you.”
“Okay,” Tony agreed obediently. He stood. “Would you be
offended if I said I have to go now? I have to get ready for a business trip.”
“No,” Steve answered, swimming closer to him. He put his
hands on Tony’s shoulders, stretching up, and placed a chaste kiss to his lips.
“See you soon.”
“Yup,” Tony agreed. “Won’t be more than a week.”
“’kay.” Steve smiled at him before flopping backward into
the water, splashing him.
Tony squealed, skittering backward. “Steve!”
“Adorable,” Steve said, grinning at him, then yelped and ducked
under the water when Tony threatened to throw a rock at him.
“Jerk!” Tony yelled at the water, but he was smiling.
Steve’s smiling face poked out of the water. “See you in a
Bucky frowned. “Maybe his trip got extended. He said that
“Maybe,” Steve mumbled, laying his head on his arms.
Bucky sank in the water so just his eyes were visible,
staring balefully at the rocky little cove where Tony always met them—met
Steve, anyway. It was going on the third week.
Steve sat up suddenly, turning to scowl at him. “You really
hurt him last time, you know?”
“I’m sorry,” Bucky
muttered, more sincerely than he’d ever said it to Tony’s face. “I didn’t think
I had him that tight. I’ll apologize when he comes back.”
Steve wasn’t finished. “He thinks you don’t like him!”
Bucky grimaced. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Tony, he just… he just didn’t know
how to deal with humans. Especially when Tony had very blatantly stared at his
left arm—he was already self-conscious about how it looked, he didn’t need
someone judging him for it.
“I’ll apologize when he gets back. For real this time,” he
snapped, then ducked under the water petulantly so he couldn’t hear what Steve
said next. He curled his tentacles anxiously. He would apologize.
He wouldn’t apologize.
Bucky snarled as he crawled up the beach. Sand was getting
in his suckers. He hated dry sand. It was itchy and gross. He was chafing. He
hoped Steve appreciated what he was doing! And he hoped that Steve kicked
Tony’s ass when he dragged him back down to the beach! Who the hell says ‘I’ll
be back in a week’ and then just fucking leaves
for six months?!
Tony’s house was locked up tight, but there were lights on.
Bucky muttered to himself and squeezed one of his tentacles
through the keyhole, slapping around until the tip of it caught the deadbolt
and unlocked it. He fell through the door with a yelp and dull ‘splat’ as his
tentacles spread out to try and catch him but didn’t do it fast enough. “God
fucking damn it.” He paused when he saw what looked like an aquarium nearby,
emptied of fish and water. He sneered at it.
He’d barely crawled his way through the living room when he
heard footsteps. He stopped, curling down into the floor, tentacles shifting
and changing color to match the wood beneath him.
Tony came stumbling out of a hallway, wild-eyed. “Bucky?!”
Bucky would have asked how he knew it was him, but how many
people with tentacles did Tony know? “You said you’d be back in a week,” he
said accusingly. “Steve misses you.”
“I miss Steve,” Tony blurted out immediately, looking
confused. “But—you should be happy. Because I’m not hogging him anymore? You
don’t—you don’t like it when I spend time with Steve.”
…Maybe he would apologize anyway. But only for making Tony
think Bucky didn’t like him, not for accidentally hurting him!
“It’s not that I don’t like you spending time with Steve,”
Bucky told him icily, and did not expand that he was suspicious anytime Steve
spent time away from him. “And anyway that doesn’t matter. He’s been waiting at
the cove every week for six months to see you and what—you just couldn’t be
“I can’t,” Tony
said, and if Bucky hadn’t been so angry he might have noticed the way the
human’s eyes went round with fright.
“You can’t or you’re just tired of us? The novelty wore off
of actually knowing mers?” he spat, and waved around at the human’s big ugly
house. “What, are you looking for something new now? Something more
Tony took a step back, hurt. “It’s not—I want to come see Steve-!”
“Good,” Bucky snapped, reaching out a tentacle to wrap
around the brunet’s wrist. “If we leave now he’ll probably be there.”
Tony stumbled a few steps, clawing at the tentacle around
his wrist. “No-! Bucky, I can’t—Let me go!”
“Do you know what all you’ve even put Steve through?!” Bucky
asked, dragging him out the door and to the stairs carved into the rock leading
down to the beach.
“Let me go, Bucky,
I—” Tony shuddered as he heard the waves brushing up against the sand, tugging
more insistently. “I can’t, I can’t—BUCKY
Bucky yelped as Tony tore his wrist free, falling forward,
but he caught himself this time. He turned, frowning in confusion, and made a
concerned noise when he saw Tony curled up on the ground. He shuffled over to
him. Tony was trembling and making the same terrible noise that he’d made when
Bucky hadn’t known he couldn’t breathe underwater, like he was drowning. But he
couldn’t be drowning, they hadn’t even made it close to the water—
Tony gasped in a big breath, then went back to that terrible
Bucky began wrapping his tentacles around the man, trying to
uncurl him. “Tony, you need to breathe!”
“I can’t-!” Tony choked out, tears clinging to his lashes.
Bucky got the unsettling feeling that Tony wasn’t just
talking about being able to breathe.
“They… drowned him?” Steve asked, brows furrowed together in
confusion. “But you said he was still alive.”
Bucky held his hands out helplessly. He didn’t really
understand the explanation he’d been given. “They drowned him but they made him
breathe again afterward?”
“Yeah, well,” Bucky muttered, crossing his arms with a
scowl. “I guess they only had him for three months. He tried coming down after
he got home because he knew you’d be worried but as soon as he saw the water he…
like an anemone, when you scare them? Just—” He gripped his hands together into
a ball. “—Schlp. There he went. He
did that when I was trying to bring him down.”
Steve’s lips moved silently, copying the noise Bucky had
made. “I never would have described anemones like that but okay.”
“You know what I meant,” Bucky snapped.
“Okay, but, how am I supposed to see him if he won’t come
down?” Steve asked, frowning, and crossed his arms. “I’m glad he’s okay. …Ish.
But I’d still like to see it with my own eyes.”
Bucky did not say that seeing him with his own eyes probably
wouldn’t help him decide that Tony was okay. Instead, he silently held up the
three buckets he’d dragged down the stairs with him.
“…What… what are you even planning with this?” Steve asked
suspiciously. “You’re not gonna try to carry me, are you?”
Bucky rolled his eyes. “I can’t carry you; we’ll both fall
down the stairs. But I can keep you wet. Do you
think you can make it up the stairs?”
Steve turned to squint at the carved stone steps. “…If you
keep me wet enough, I should be able to.” He yelped when Bucky immediately
threw one of the buckets of water on him. “I’M NOT OUT OF THE WATER YET YOU
Steve was tempted to tackle him into the sand because he
knew how much Bucky hated getting sand in his tentacles but he was too worried
about Tony to follow through.
“Oh,” Tony said, hopeful and sad all at once.
Steve looked up from where he was sprawled out on the wood
floor in a large puddle. “Sorry about your floor.”
“What are you—That’s not going to be comfortable!” Tony
exclaimed when he noticed Bucky dumping a bucket of water into the empty
“Well he’s gotta stay wet somehow,” Bucky reasoned. Steve
wasn’t like Bucky, who could do well out of water for a time because of his slimy mucus. His scales and
gills dried out. His chest was already heaving with effort.
“What happened to your wrist?” Steve asked, concerned.
Tony moved to hide his wrist behind his back, then stopped.
It was too late anyway. He looked down at his wrist, frowning, and rubbed the
bruises from Bucky’s suckers gently. “Bucky was trying to take me to see you.
I—I panicked. I couldn’t get the right words out and I couldn’t say the right
thing. So I just. Um. Yanked.”
Steve held his hands out and made a quiet noise when the
brunet obediently offered him his arm, thumb trailing over the little round
“It didn’t hurt that bad,” Tony insisted.
“Yeah, because you were a little busy trying to breathe,”
“ACK!” Steve exclaimed when Bucky’s tentacles wrapped around
him and lifted him off the floor.
Tony couldn’t help a smile. “That’s never not going to be
Steve yelped as he was dropped into the aquarium. It was
true—it wasn’t comfortable. His tail curled up at the end awkwardly and the
glass dug in under his armpits. Still, he already felt better with his tail
submerged, and he felt almost normal when he splashed water on his gills. He
accepted the bucket Bucky handed him and shoved his head into it, taking a few
deep breaths so he could wet the insides of his gills as well.
When he pulled his head back out, he saw Tony hadn’t moved,
and was instead chewing on his bottom lip anxiously. “…Even this amount of
water bothers you?” Steve asked sadly.
“I can’t, um—I can’t even shower,” Tony admitted quietly,
shoulders hunching with shame. “I just. Use a damp washcloth. To get clean.”
“It’s not your
fault they made you fear the water,” Steve insisted when the brunet’s shoulders
hunched even more.
Bucky couldn’t help but curl a tentacle over Tony’s
shoulders, he looked so sad. “Yeah, that’s on them. Any human would be afraid
of the water after drowning.” When the human didn’t look convinced, he grumbled
and muscled him down to coil the rest of his tentacles around him.
Tony let out a slightly hysterical giggle. “I’ve seen porn
“Well, if you want me to fuck you with my sperm tentacle,
you have to say please.” Bucky smirked when the human choked. “And then don’t
be mad about the mess. I know Steve was mad the first time I came in him.”
“It was slimy and everywhere!” Steve exclaimed indignantly.
“And inky. Oh my God. You stained my
scales. The other mers laughed at me all week!”
Tony giggled again, flustered. “Oh my God.”
“Don’t laugh!” Steve whined. “This asshole wasn’t even
“Why would I be sorry? Everyone could see that you were
mine.” Bucky loosened up his hold on Tony when he felt him relaxing. “Plus it’s
not like I’m the filthy one here. You’re the one that asked me to ink on your
face while we were above water.”
“Shut up!” Steve shrieked, flushing pink, and shoved his
head back into the bucket.
“He’s just embarrassed because he doesn’t want you to think
he’s a deviant,” Bucky whispered, smirking.
Tony tilted his head. “Is he? A deviant, I mean.”
“Well, octo- or squid-mers and fish-mers are kind of odd couples.
We’ve been more accepted in recent years,” Bucky added thoughtfully. “The older
folks might think he’s deviant. I don’t know why. Who would willingly pass up
tentacles? I can have one in his mouth, one wrapped around his dick, and
another inside his—”
“Yup,” Tony cut in quickly, squirming. “I can see how the
older generation would find that deviant.”
Bucky looked at one of his tentacles, twisting it this way
and that. “Also the texture is way different than a dick. It’s squishy. I mean,
I squeezed it through your keyhole.”
“Yeah, I saw the video, that was kinda gross not gonna lie.”
Steve lifted his head from the bucket. “Yeah, it takes a
little getting used to, but Bucky’s really good with them.”
Tony buried his face in his hands. “Can we talk about
literally anything else because I didn’t actually plan for that to be anything
but a joke.”
“A shame,” Bucky sighed. “But if you ever change your mind—”
“I’ll let you know,” Tony squeaked, cutting him off.
They eventually got Tony to be willing to come close to the
aquarium after a couple weeks. But that might have mostly been because it took
Bucky a hell of a lot more effort to carry a fresh bucket of water to Steve to
“I’ll probably never be able to approach the waterline
again,” Tony admitted miserably instead of accepting their praise. “Just
thinking about it—”
“Hey, no, that’s fine,” Steve hurried to say. “You bought a
bigger tank just for me. I don’t mind coming up here. Especially since you
rigged that basket so we don’t have to climb the stairs anymore.”
“Not that Steve actually minded the stairs,” Bucky added in
a drawl. “‘Buck, look at my triceps! Buck, look at my shoulders!’ I wanted to push
him down the stairs but he would have just crawled back up saying ‘extra
Steve stared at him, disappointed. “Why must you constantly
embarrass me in front of Tony?”
“I think your biceps are amazing, Steve,” Tony offered.
Steve pointed in Bucky’s face smugly. “HA.”
“Don’t encourage him!” Bucky exclaimed, betrayed. “I have to
go home with this guy! I hear enough of him being a smug asshole without you
“…I find it hard to believe that you are not also a smug
asshole,” Tony said after thinking it over. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be
Bucky opened his mouth, then closed it thoughtfully. “…Well.
You’re not wrong, I suppose.”
“The sex is good too,” Steve added helpfully. “I’d stay for
Tony snorted. “A ringing endorsement.”
Steve hummed, smiling, and ducked his face into the bucket
to wet his gills before he sat back up. “Would you ever get in the aquarium
Tony’s grip immediately tightened around the glass, knuckles
going white. He closed his eyes, visibly trying to ground himself as his breath
caught in his throat. Steve would have touched his hand, but he was wet and he
didn’t want to make it worse for Tony.
Bucky frowned, concerned. “Hey, you don’t have to get into the aquarium. Steve was
just wondering. I mean you made really good progress already, you can stand
next to it!”
“I just… I really miss hugging you, is all,” Steve admitted
Tony’s hands were shaking, but he eventually wheezed out, “I
When Tony curled up on the ground trying to wheeze in a
breath after trying, Bucky’s tentacles curled around him, Steve gaped at him.
“I didn’t believe you.”
“Why wouldn’t you believe me about this?!” Bucky snapped.
Steve curled his hands into a ball. “Schlp. There he went.”
Bucky’s lips twitched with the want to smile, but this was
really not the time to laugh.
Tony did eventually get in the tank with him. There was
barely enough water to keep Steve’s tail damp, but Tony was already shaking
when Steve wrapped his arms around him, so he didn’t say anything. He’d missed
this—Tony always felt perfect in his arms. He ignored how slight and fragile
Tony felt, ignored the thought that maybe Tony didn’t eat enough or was so
anxious all the time living by the ocean that he could hardly keep food down.
Instead he curled his arms tighter around him and lifted his tail so Tony’s
pants stopped soaking up the minuscule amounts of water, so he’d stay drier.
“’m sorry,” Tony mumbled into his shoulder. “I used to be
able to swim. Now I can barely sit in an inch of water.”
Bucky curled his tentacles over the side of the tank. “Don’t
be sorry. It’s not your fault that other people hurt you.”
Steve stroked a hand through his hair. “Besides, this is
fine. I… was starting to think I might never see you again.” He pressed his
nose into Tony’s hair and took a deep whiff. He still smelled the same, human
scents that Steve couldn’t name that made up a scent purely Tony. “I don’t know
what I thought had happened to you, to be honest.”
“Whatever you think of will probably never be as bad as what
actually happened,” Tony croaked, shivering.
No, Steve and Bucky agreed silently. They supposed not.
They got Tony up to three inches of water. He still trembled
with fear, but seemed to do alright if he was clutching onto Steve or if Bucky
had his tentacles wrapped around him.
“You know we’d never let anything happen to you, right?”
Bucky asked one night. “I know I was an asshole when we first met—I didn’t know
you couldn’t breathe underwater. But after I learned that you couldn’t, I
wouldn’t have let you drown.”
“Yeah, you’d just grip him too tight,” Steve muttered into Tony’s
shoulder. The bruises around his wrist had healed, but here were still some
vaguely sucker-shaped prints on the back of his left leg.
Bucky glared at him. “What if I just wrapped one of my
tentacles around your neck?”
Tony giggled just a touch hysterically. “It’s hard to focus
on being scared when you two are bickering like an old married couple.”
“We wouldn’t survive marriage,” Bucky said. “Or, well. Steve
wouldn’t survive marriage. Because I’d murder him.”
“How do you know I wouldn’t murder you, huh?!” Steve
exclaimed, clutching Tony tighter. “Tony could be my new husband then!”
Bucky scoffed. “Don’t be stupid, Steve. I’ve seen the way he
looks at my tentacles—”
the brunet added, glaring at him. “I bet he’d love to have my tentacles in him.
Besides, I can survive longer out of the water than you.”
Steve scoffed back at him. “Please. Tony could make a nice big tank for me. And even if he didn’t,
I’d figure something out.” He gave the human a pat on the butt, making him
squeak in surprise. “My husband would need me, after all.”
“You guys are too much,” Tony giggled, hiding his face in
“I think we’re just enough,” Steve teased, smiling, because
the brunet had stopped trembling as much. “Don’t worry, Tony. I’ll let you know
when I’m going to kill Bucky so you can at least say goodbye.”
“What!” Bucky squawked indignantly.
Steve tilted his head. “Although you really should try out
the tentacles at least once before he dies. It is certainly something.”
“Listen you piece of shit,” Bucky began, crawling up the
side of the tank and looming over the blond. “If anyone is getting murdered here it’s
gonna be you for your smart mouth!”
“Boop,” Steve said, poking his nose, because he was
ridiculously unafraid of everything.
Bucky snarled. “Steve!”
Tony threw his head back with a bark of laughter. Even
though he really missed the sound Steve made every time Bucky yanked him under
the surface out of jealousy, he much preferred this bickering to Bucky mulishly
glaring at him from under the water.
“That’s it,” Bucky snapped, and then Tony yelped as a pair
of tentacles wrapped under his arms and lifted him from the tank. “This is mine
“Noooo Bucky come on!” Steve whined, making grabby hands.
Bucky dumped an empty bucket onto his head with a clang.
Tony laughed again. “I missed that noise.”
“I will make sure he makes that noise often,” Bucky
promised, cradling the brunet in his tentacles. He smiled smugly at Steve when
the blond pushed the bucket up and glared at him balefully. “It’s the same one
he made when I first penetrated him.”
Steve slung the bucket at Bucky’s head with an angry
screech. “Stop embarrassing me!”
Bucky tipped backward from the force, stunned. “Ow! What the
Steve reached out to try and grab Tony back. “He was mine
“Hey!” Tony laughed as he was tugged up against the tank,
but Bucky’s tentacle around his waist held fast. “Come on, I’m a person! I only
belong to me!”
“…No,” Steve and Bucky told him, then began tugging again.
Tony squawked, then went back to laughing. “You guys are
“Tenacious,” Steve corrected, giving a mighty tug that
brought his feet up off the ground.
“Yeah, that,” Bucky agreed, then jerked back, more tentacles
flying up to wrap around Tony for a better grip.
The squabble eventually ended with Steve and Bucky violently
making-out in the tank. Tony clutched his chest because those kisses looked
like they hurt.
(They did hurt, but just the right amount, he learned later.)
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Exploration in Form.
There are so many beautiful backdrops in San Francisco and one of my favorite places is an are known as Lands End. I was lucky enough to connect with a very inspirational photographer and collaborate on a shoot with this wonderful scenery as a backdrop. A lot of Photographers and Instagrammers have been inspiring me to photograph the male form in all its simplicity. I must say it has been a very creative release for me. 10,000 steps shared under the sun. Ruins, clay mud, giant rocks and the ocean mist riding on the back of the wind, we weren’t able to take more than five steps without being inspired to take more photos. It was a great day. I hope you can all enjoy this journey with me. Thanks Nick.