To a sailor, honest or not, the sea was always a threat. Even on the kindest days, she could be deceptive. Still waters and clear skies never lasted long, hiding storms behind the horizon.
It was Yurio who first spotted the flash of color in the water, sounding the alarm. Scales of red and gold hiding amongst the glittering blue of the sea under a bright summer sun. Glimpses of a tail flirting out from the wash of the waves, never permitting a solid look.
“How many are there?”
“I can’t tell.”
“Is it a school?”
“I think it’s only one.”
“They’re not like sirens, they aren’t solitary.”
“Look, there, see!”
“It’s circling us…”
“Well that’s freaking great. Exactly what we need. What kind is it?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen one with a tail like that before. Usually mermaids–”
Chris had to seize onto the powder monkey to prevent him from plunging into the water, nearly knocked overboard by the expanse of Yuuri’s wings. The siren had sprung off his perch on the crow’s nest with a sharp cry, diving straight into the water below.
In the split moment before he hit the surface, it broke from beneath with the vibrant flash of gold on scarlet fins. The mermaid leapt into the air, colliding with the siren. Webbed hands grasped onto Yuuri’s feathers, dragging him down into the sea.
Neither reappeared. The surface settled.
“Yuuri– it grabbed him, he’s gone!”
“I don’t see them!”
Victor came running. He threw off the sash tying his pistols to his hip, ready to leap in after his siren.
The ocean erupted. Droplets of water burst up into the air like diamonds, propelled over the ship with the force of Yuuri’s wings. The siren shot up into the sky, twirling as he flew. His arms were wrapped around the mermaid, waist encircled by its tail.
Yuuri’s forehead was tipped against the mermaid’s, smile split across his face. The sound of combined laughter filled the air, wondrous and uplifting in its power.
Yuuri peaked above the tops of the masts, stilling in his ascent. The two fell back into the water. Yuuri’s wings pushed them across the surface as they rolled in the waves, splashing with abandon. Their chatter barely reached the ship, excited, like that of two friends reunited.
The men on board stared, watching the siren kick up water with his wings, splashing at the mermaid. Who proceeded to grab his shoulders, shoving Yuuri down under the water without any sense of fear. He cackled openly when Yuuri emerged, spitting out sea water with a playful scowl.
“….Your bird’s friends with a freaking mermaid?!” Yurio demanded, spinning to glare at Victor.
“I had no idea,” Victor answered, pouting a bit as he watched Yuuri’s lips move rapidly, able to see it even at a distance but unable to hear the siren’s hushed words.
“How delightful life on board this ship has become,” Chris remarked, leaning forward to try to glimpse more of the mermaid. “He’s quite cute, do you think the tales of them growing legs on land are true?”
“We’re all gonna die,” Yurio muttered. “Drowned by mermaids, eaten by sirens…”
From out on the water, the mermaid shouted out something in shocked delight. His brilliantly colored tail slashed through the waves as he tugged Yuuri back to the ship by the hand, waving enthuastically at Victor. “Hiiiiiiiiii!!!”
Victor blinked, slowly waving back. From down below, Yuuri blushed. The mermaid beside him grinned, sharp white teeth contrasting his dark skin.
“Yep, all dead,” Yurio quipped while Chris and Victor shouted down a greeting.
El’s so grateful Mike insisted on giving her a ride to school on his bike because it gives her a chance to review all the advice she’s gotten from the party over the last couple weeks
But a lot of their suggestions conflict (Lucas: “If you don’t know the answer when a teacher asks a question, don’t make eye contact with them or they’ll call on you” Dustin: “No way, you want to look the son of a bitch right in the eye to let them know you’re not afraid. Then, they’ll call on someone else. It’s a power move.” Max: “No, don’t listen to them, just pretend to be really engrossed in taking notes.”)
She gets her class schedule and it’s still a little surreal to see her name (Hopper, Jane) written down
She can’t believe how many people are at school and it’s a little overwhelming until she grabs Mike’s hand squeezes
He squeezes back right away and doesn’t let go as the walk to their first class
The class is English, which Eleven loves instantly (the teacher keeps talking about all these cool books they’re going to read—apparently one is about grapes and El can’t believe someone wrote a whole book on her favorite fruit)
She writes down everything the teacher says and fills up three pages in her notebook (although she wonders if she wasn’t supposed to because Mike didn’t take out a notebook at all and he keeps looking at her funny)
She has to part from Mike for math class, but Will sits in front of her and keeps passing her funny drawings and notes so the class goes by fast
After the bell for lunch rings, they exit the classroom and Mike runs up to them, panting, and starts asking El a million questions about how math class went
Eleven’s favorite part of the day is definitely lunch because she gets to sit with all of her friends and listen to them joke and argue and laugh
Everything goes smoothly from there until the last class of the day when the teacher asks them to pair up with someone they don’t know and then introduce their partner to the class
Eleven panics for a second, but Mike immediately turns to her, sticks out his hand, and says, “hi, my name’s Mike, short for Michael”
When the final bell rings, Eleven can’t believe after two years of begging Hopper she finally got what she had been asking for: a day of being a normal kid