A dinghy was beached at the edge of the tide. The ship sat on the horizon off the small island Chris had rowed to, to catch an afternoon of privacy.
Phichit laid stretched out across the white sand, adorned in red coral jewelry and the gold that Yuuri had gifted him. They matched his colors splendidly. Phichit had his chin cupped in his palm, tail aimlessly flicking from side to side now that he had been permitted to move it. “Hurry up.”
“You can’t rush beauty.”
“I’m the beauty though.”
“You absolutely are,” Chris replied, continuing to layer color on the canvas before him. He was not quite the practiced artist that Minami was, but he had gotten a few tips from the deckhand in exchange for snacks suitable for birds. If he could say so himself, the result of the portrait that he was painting was rather stunning.
A mermaid on a beach in summer, adorned in well-crafted jewelry, the sun lighting up the golden markings on his skin and shimmering off his scales. After the mirror incident, Chris still wanted to show Phichit how stunning he looked. Phichit was overjoyed at the suggestion of a painting, delighted to pose against a beautiful natural backdrop. Chris would take any excuse he could get to be able to capture an image of the mermaid.
“I’m drying out,” Phichit complained, shifting a hand down to touch the scales fading up his abdomen. They had sunken in, no longer sleek. He had spent too long in the sun, his tail rough and skin parched. “I need to get back in the water soon.”
“Don’t move, darling, I’m nearly finished.”
“No, Chris, I think I really need to get back in the water, look!”
The ship cook set aside his paintbrush and looked where Phichit was gesturing. Between his tail fins, a crack had formed, splitting the scales of his tail. As they watched, another splinter appeared, traveling up the length of Phichit’s tail, scales flecking off. The mermaid shrieked.
“Get me back in the ocean, now!”
Chris knocked over the easel as he rushed to grab Phichit, lifting the mermaid into his arms and sprinting for the water’s edge. He did not make it.
Phichit screamed, clawed nails sinking into Chris’s shoulders. The sun flashed off his scales, making Chris screw his eyes shut lest he be blinded. When he opened them again, Phichit thrashed in his arms, yelling. His tail had split in two, fins withering in until they vanished, plastered like markings against his skin. His skin.
Phichit continued shouting, but for a different reason altogether, mixing the shouts with laughter. “I’ve got legs!”
He did. Beautiful, shapely legs, with ten wiggling toes. His colors remained, skin stained gold and scarlet in the same patterns as his tail.
“You’ve got legs.”
“I know!” Phichit cried in amazement, kicking them. “And they move!”
“Did you know this happens?!”
“Hell no!” Phichit shook his head wildly from side to side. “We were told to never let ourselves get dry as kids!” He clung on when Chris gingerly set him down in the sand, the cook’s hands supporting his waist. He buckled immediately, needing to be caught and picked back up. The second time he managed to hold his own weight, despite wobbling knees. “Oh. Oh wow. I’ve got legs.”
Chris cleared his throat, eyes directed down Phichit’s body. “…You also have a dick.”
“I have a dick?!?”
Phichit looked down between his new legs and screamed. “How the hell am I supposed to walk?! Is it supposed to be this huge?!”
Chris felt like buckling too.