acatwhowrites: (C.A.P♡relaxed)
A Cat Who Writes ([personal profile] acatwhowrites) wrote2015-08-02 02:45 pm

The Tides

title: The Tides
players: Kim Joonmyun/Suho, Do Kyungsoo/D.O.
word count: 5080
rating: PG-13
warnings: kind of kidnapping and false imprisonment
summary: To Suho, living on land felt a lot like being a fish out of water.
a/n: Written for exoments. I tried to make it all ambiguous, but I'm sure there are mistakes dealing with coastal life and its animals. There aren't many seals in Korea, but let's pretend otherwise. The point of view kind of changes between paragraphs, but it's nothing drastic. It shouldn't be, anyway.

When Kyungsoo was a little boy, his dad used to tell him stories about the ports he visited as a navy sailor and waters he fished in later, as a fisherman. The British isles were said to be best for fishing in fall. Kyungsoo's dad was one among many who made the voyage from mainland Europe, where he called home at the time, to the islands.

Early evening, another fisherman called to him to pack up the remaining nets and call it a night. He did as told; he didn’t mind. It was warm out, and the air was pushing the rotten fish smell that he would never become accustomed to back to sea.

He walked off the docks down the shore along the Atlantic.

In the fading sunlight, he caught sight of a body in the distance hopping along the bluffs. A sudden fear griped his chest. He scrambled down the cliff faces, hugging the wall as his feet slipped over uneven steps.

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

He came to an abrupt stop, losing his balance and falling back on the rocks.

A girl, completely naked in the warm evening air and seemingly not caring in the least for modesty, stared down at him from a very short distance away. She was absolutely breathtaking, with long, long blonde hair and skin so pale the moon had to envy her. She appeared younger than him by a few years.

“Who are you?”


“You do not speak?”

“Of course I can speak. My name is...” She suddenly stopped, tilting her head to the side and then looking back towards the sea, as if it spoke to her.

He took a step towards her, and the girl leapt away. She was surprisingly fast among the craggy rocks. He followed the her to the bottom of the cliff steps before realising he was alone. The only living creature he saw was a lone seal shuffling down the shore into the breaking waves. It looked back once, barked, and dove into the water.

“And I swear to you, Kyungsoo," his dad chuckled, "that seal laughed at me.”

Other sailors shared their stories of the mythical creatures with Kyungsoo's dad, then Kyungsoo, swearing up and down they had not been drunk when they saw the man or woman slip out of their seal skins to dance on the beach or seduce a villager, leaving them the next morning.

“Is there any way to keep them on land?” Kyungsoo asked curiously. He was seven and terribly lonely. His mom died from suicide that year. The sailors laughed and clapped him on the back.

“A lady take your heart, boy?” they joked.

To keep a selkie as a human on land, he would have to hide its skin. As long as they could not turn back into a seal, they would stay on land. Some even had human families. Many became depressed and neglected those families, but Kyungsoo promised himself that he would make his partner—human or selkie—the happiest living thing on land.

He returned to the beach after helping his dad pull in the nets and wrap the fish one evening. He rolled up his pant legs and waded into the gentle pull and push of the waves and waited. Day after day, he returned to the beach and waited.

"I waited, too, you know," his dad commented a later evening, after finding his son wading in the rising tide. "I would stay up for hours, watching the stars, freezing my butt off on those rocks." He shook his head. "I never saw her again, that I know of. It's hard to tell seals apart, but I think I came close, just once."

Months passed, and he had left England to follow the work. He returned, once, and sat on the end of the dock where he worked, with his feet in the water, just dozing in the cool breeze and fading sunlight. Something nibbled at his feet, and he swished them back and forth a bit to deter the fish. The nibbling came again, however, and he leaned forward to peer into the water.

"A whiskered face stared right back at me. Seals look a lot like a mix of a dog and a cat; I'd never seen one up close. It barked at me and nudged me, like it wanted to play."

"Did you play with it?"

His dad shook his head. "My boss called for me, and we left the next morning."

Kyungsoo leaned against his dad's side and looked out across the water. The surface sparkled, sunlight dancing across the small swells. Maybe, somewhere, his dad's selkie was still waiting for him.

Kyungsoo first met a selkie in his own backyard when he was 22-years-old, but he didn't know it at the time.

The selkie first met a human when he was 23-years-old. Old for a seal, young for a man, middle-aged for a selkie.

He climbed out of the water, stashing his pelt among the wet rocks, and scrambled up towards shore. It was barely morning, dawn still stretching into the sky and trying to reach the remaining night.

He wasn't alone, though. A human boy sat on the flat plane of a boulder, knees to his chest and arms pillowing his chin. As the selkie approached, he made a bit of noise, disturbing the calm early morning.


"Hello!" Humans had a strange language, but the selkie rather liked it. It felt nicer than the chirps and barks he was used to, a simple seal language that carried too much meaning for such short sounds. The boy looked kind of concerned, though, heavy eyebrows drawn over his nose and thick lips pulled into a frown.

"What happened to your clothes?"

He looked down at himself, totally bare, as usual, and back to the human. "Is it strange?"

"Yeah. Did you come from a shipwreck or something?"

"Or something," the selkie laughed. "May I sit by you?"

The boy shrugged, novelty of nakedness gone. "Suit yourself."

"Thank you." The selkie settled beside him, shivering a little at the coldness of the rock on his naked bottom. He couldn't wait for the sun to come out and heat the beach. He loved sunbathing. "Do you like the beach?"

"I guess. It's quiet."

"You shouldn't come so early. It's too close to the night." When he boy looked at him curiously, he added, "It can be a bit dangerous."

"Do you live around here?"

"Yeah. My whole life."

"I haven't seen you around."

The selkie laughed. "You just haven't looked!" Anyone could find him or his friends and family if they dared to pick a path among the water and algae-slick rocks. Their beach was all soft, white sand without broken glass bottles or tangled fishing line.

He leaned forward a little to see the boy's face better. It was a nice face, he thought, kind of soft with large, round eyes that kind of shimmered with the reflection of the see, reminding the selkie of the black nacre of the oysters he liked. "You have pretty eyes."

The human's face turned pink for some reason, and he turned away from the selkie. He mumbled a "Thank you," and the selkie smiled. The pink must be a good thing.

He scooted a bit closer, because the pink tinge to the boy's cheek kind of looked like the late sunset. "My name's Suho. What's yours?"

His reply was soft, almost taken by the sea breeze before Suho could catch it. "Kyungsoo."

Kyungsoo liked to sit on the beach whenever he could. Since almost drowning when he was eleven, he didn't go into the water any more than he had to, but it kept bringing him back to sit and watch the waves, even when he was done working and could get away from the it. Occasionally, a dolphin or a fish would break the surface with an arcing leap. Sometimes, a waterbird would divebomb at an impossible angle and swoop up again with a silvery, floppy dinner in its beak. Crabs investigated his feet, buried in the sand, and scuttled away when he'd wiggle his toes.

Since meeting the weird naked boy, Suho, he sat at that same spot every night the weather allowed, but he never came back. There's no good reason for him to return; it's not an easy area to navigate, Kyungsoo only knew it because he was born and raised nearby, and if the boy had been shipwrecked or got caught by the tide while swimming, there was simply no reason for Kyungsoo to see him again.

He could hope, though, because a small, childish part of him—almost buried by a sailor's cynicism—wanted to believe the boy had a special reason for being on shore that night, when Kyungsoo had heard singing and laughter while lying in bed.

Kyungsoo crept back to the beach just as the sun slipped behind the water of the horizon. The sand still held some warmth, and he wasn't too uncomfortable while he waited on a sun-heated boulder out of the reach of the tide.

Some hours later, he heard something splash down the beach towards his left. Soft barking prickled his curiosity, and he rolled to his feet and crept along the rocks until he reached the largest boulders that formed a sort of natural semi-circle surrounding a portion of beach free of rocks and litter. Raising his head, he watched as a seal shuffled onto the sand. It sniffed the air, looked around, and barked, louder this time, over its shoulder. Replies echoed back, and the beach was soon swarmed with seals.

Kyungsoo could only sit in amazed silence as they covered the shore, barking and chirping to one another in merry conversation.

Then strange things happened.

The seals, one by one, then in random numbers, stood on their flippers. Their heads were tossed back, and layers of skin and blubber fell to their feet like a lady would shed her dress. Humans stood on their own two legs, naked as newborns, and gathered the skins, piling them away from the grabbing fingers of water and laughing as the breeze dried their skin and hair.

Among the dozens, Kyungsoo saw the boy he'd met earlier, pale as the moon, being dragged to dance with a group of giggling girls. His seal skin sat at the end of the group, the first to be placed aside, and Kyungsoo got an idea.

When the barest of reds painted the sky beneath the navy blue and indigo, the selkies retrieved their skins and returned to the water, chatting and singing.

Only Suho remained, looking more and more panicked as the beach showed no signs of his own seal skin. He was so certain he'd kept it safely away from the water...

He looked to the ocean and felt the pull of its currents. His friends were swimming just off shore, waiting for him and chasing some shrimp.


He started and looked over his shoulder. The human boy, Kyungsoo.

"Are you okay? You're out here naked again."

"Ah...yeah." Suho looked down at himself and nodded, feeling more and more unsteady on his feet the longer he stayed out of the water. "I-I think I'm fine. I just lost something."

"You lost something? What is it?"

He shook his head and shrugged a shoulder, as if it was nothing important, but Suho knew since he was a pup what would happen if someone hid his pelt. "It's just something precious to me."

"Well, I can help you find it."

He looked back to the water—a couple heads bobbed on the water, silently waiting—and shook his head again. "I don't think we'll find it, even if we look."

The look on Suho's face was like a punch to Kyungsoo's gut, but he fought the guilt and offered a small smile. "It's getting dark; we won't be able to find it tonight. You could stay with me, if you'd like. I live by myself." He turned and pointed up the sheer rockface. "I live up there, just a short walk."

Suho smiled, finally turning to Kyungsoo fully. "That's very kind of you; thank you." A brisk breeze blew off the water, making both boys shudder. Kyungsoo wore a thick sweater and pants; he couldn't imagine how Suho felt.

"C'mon." He stepped aside and held out his hand. "You can borrow something to wear."

The selkie took his hand a bit shyly, looking over his shoulder towards the dark waters before allowing himself to be pulled onto the craggy rocks surrounding the pristine beach. Kyungsoo followed after him, blushing dark when Suho would trip and pitch forward to catch himself on the rocks, stretching his thighs and pushing his ass out.

Above the rocks, calf-high grass cushioned the walk to Kyungsoo's family home. His dad died from pneumonia years earlier, so Kyungsoo lived alone with the ocean for company.

He pushed open the front door to the modest house and ushered Suho inside. The selkie's hair shone dully in the lamplight, crusted with sea salt. "Take a bath, first. You'll warm up faster and get the salt off." He told himself he was being a gracious host. If he'd just walked out of the ocean, he'd at least want a shower.

Suho didn't seem to care one way or the other, following him with mouth slightly agape as he was lead through a spacious living area down a short hall to a tiled bathroom. It was small but functional, with a bathtub and shower head, toilet, pedestal sink, and a mirrored medicine cabinet. Kyungsoo leaned over the edge of the tub to turn the handle up, demonstrating that turning it up, towards red, increased the temperature, and that turning it down, towards blue, lowered the temperature.

He left the selkie with a folded towel after pointing out the shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Closing the door, he waited until he heard the splash of water and soft gasp before slipping outside and jogging back to the rocks leading down to the beach.

It wasn't all that hard to see with the moon and stars fully on display, sky cloudless and a deep violet. Kyungsoo found the seal skin he'd taken tucked among a trio of rocks that were piled as if making a small shelter. He tugged it out and bundled it in his arms; his eyes rolled a little from the smell of salt and blubber, but he figured putting it in a bag would lessen the smell.

Returning home, he peeked down the hall to make sure the door was still closed and paused upon hearing soft singing. It was a soothing, melancholic tune, almost a lullaby. The sound of movement in the water threw Kyungsoo into the kitchen and to the back door, where a closet stood unobtrusively. On the floor of the closet, Kyungsoo stored his dad's old steamer trunk. He packed the seal skin beneath the old knick knacks, letters, and maps and tossed some sprigs of lavender over everything before closing the lid and pushing it back in place and started a fire in the stone hearth in his living room.

Suho's voice filtered from the bathroom, calling his name.

He grabbed some clothes from his dresser and knocked on the door. "Are you done?"

"I think so. My fingers are wrinkled."

"I'm coming in; I have some clothes for you."

Suho barely fit in Kyungsoo's clothes. He was a lot broader in the shoudlers but not much taller. He kept picking at the fabric and squirming. "It's itchy."

"Sorry. You'll get used to it."

They never found Suho's pelt.

He woke up late in the morning wrapped in scratchy cloth on a soft bed. He got dressed in different clothes that sat on a chair beside the bed and found the human in the kitchen, poking at something inside a black potbellied thing sitting in the middle of the far wall.

They ate breakfast—eggs and rice, which tasted a lot better than they looked—and Kyungsoo answered Suho's many questions. He said the sheets were light and made of a common material called cotton, the mattress was older than he was, and the black thing was an oven. The selkie enthusiastically absorbed the information while struggling to mimic the position of Kyungsoo's fingers and wrist using the eating utensil.

"It's a spoon."

"Why not just pick it up with your hands?"

"You could, I guess, but it would take a long time to finish anything with rice." Suho got the feeling he was being laughed at, but it wasn't unkind, so he laughed, too.

Neither of them talked about how long Suho would stay with Kyungsoo. They fell into a routine that became familiar and automatic and didn't question it. Kyungsoo opened his clothes closet to the selkie, pointed out where the food sat in the kitchen, and tried to teach him to read, but that turned out to be hopeless, so Suho paged through books with pictures and pointed out what he recognised among the photographs of marine life and fishing boats.

After a week of lazing about the house, Kyungsoo took Suho to town. He'd only meant to keep Suho, who expressed a seal-like curiosity, from wandering off, but when he took the selkie's hand, Suho's fingers slipped between his and stayed there.

The markets, single cinema, hardware shop, and bars left Suho open-mouthed and in awe, but he stopped upon seeing a sign set in concrete and engraved with sea turtles. "What's this?"

"An aquarium. It keeps fish and sea animals." He started walking again, pulling Suho's arm lightly. "We can visit sometime, if you'd like. It's too late, today."

Kyungsoo worked long hours on a fishing boat, but when he'd come home smelling like fish guts and sweat, Suho would smile and ask him how his day was.

"Exhausting. It's good to be home."

The aquarium turned out to be a great and horrible idea. Suho looked in amazed silence at the massive tanks, touching the glass with his hands and watching the animals swim listlessly.

"Why...why would they do this?"


"This!" Suho turned to him with watery eyes. "These boxes!"

"They're tanks."

"They're prisons." He sounded absolutely incredulous.

"It's so humans can see them. Enjoy their beauty."

"But we—They are all in the water! All you have to do is go into the ocean, and everyone is right there!"

"Few people want to go swimming with sharks."

Suho scoffed. "Sharks are harmless unless to humans unless provoked. They prefer smaller prey."

Kyungsoo lead him towards the mammals. Suho hurried to the tanks of seals. He barked, and a smiley seal paused its lazy spins to approach the glass.

A small crowd formed as they saw a human and seal barking to one another. An elderly lady beside Kyungsoo leaned towards him, voice low and conspiratorous. "Is that young man talking to seals?"

"I believe so, ma'am. They're his favourite."

"My nephew Chanyeol believed he could speak to dogs for the longest time. It was rather precious. He'd come inside, sometimes, crying, 'Auntie, I didn't think she'd be offended!' and show me the bites on his arm or hand..." The lady cackled and shook her head, patting Kyungsoo's arm as she shuffled with the crowd to another display.

When the novelty wore off, without Suho even noticing his audience, Kyungsoo sat on the slatted bench behind him and leaned back on his arms. "What's he saying?"

"He's lonely, but it's not such a bad life." Suho placed his hand on the glass. The seal pressed its nose over where his palm rested.

Pages were torn from the calendar as months passed, and the weather grew warmer. Nighttime still sat in a chill that kept Kyungsoo and Suho both inside, primarily, but there were nights where Kyungsoo would pull out a heavy blanket, and they would sit together on the rocks to watch the stars.

During the day, Suho walked to town and sat in the aquarium. Sometimes he talked with the seals and fish. Sometimes he didn't speak at all.

He'd return to Kyungsoo's house and be greeted with a heart-shaped smile. "Where'd you go today?"

"The aquarium."

"You really like it there, huh?"

Not really. "I like talking to the animals."

Kyungsoo would laugh, kiss his cheek, and say something like, "Alright, little mermaid," and look at the back door.

There was a storm off-shore, sending gusts of wind inland and rattling the windows. It would blow itself out before even reaching the beach, so Kyungsoo didn't close the storm shutters. The flames in the fireplace danced with the wind that whistled down the chimney, the only light lit that night. Kyungsoo watched the fire; Suho watched Kyungsoo.

Like turning a grain of sand to a pearl in an oyster, time had created something between Suho and Kyungsoo in the small seaside house on top of the rocks. Brief kisses to temples and cheeks lingered on lips while laced fingers slipped up the back of a shirt to caress smooth skin.

Suho broke through their reveries. "You have pretty eyes."

"So you've said." A corner of his mouth twitched up.

"And I'm saying it again," he shifted onto his hip, "because they are very pretty." The admired eyes close when Suho kissed him, opening for the briefest moment when they breathed just to close tightly as they found an angle that drew them closer.

Kyungsoo stood, taking Suho's wrist and heading for the bedroom they now shared. The firelight didn't reach around corners; their only light was the moon.

A small noise caught in Suho's throat as he's lifted beneath his thighs and dropped onto the mattress. It squeaked, creaking more when Kyungsoo crawled over the selkie. Kisses were pressed to his cheeks, jaw, and throat, leaving an itch Suho couldn't even scratch away, because his hands were held down. It was a nice sort of itch, he decided. Unfamiliar, but he didn't think he minded.

Kyungsoo released his hands to work the buttons of Suho's shirt open, so Suho sat up to shrug it off and grabbed the hem of Kyungsoo's sweater. He was more fit than anticipated, but Suho wouldn't expect anything less from the son of a fisherman. Days spent tossing and hauling nets weighing in excess of hundreds of pounds really built muscle.

There was a break where they sat and stared at one another, taking in the mussed hair, flushed skin, and pink lips, swelling from kisses. Kyungsoo licked his bottom lip and chewed it a moment, simply observing with a kindling of something in his eyes. He traced Suho's collarbone with his fingertips and tucked some hair behind his ear. "Is this okay?"

Kyungsoo leaned in first, touching his lips to the corner of Suho's mouth softly. The selkie turned to meet him again, and there's an undercurrent of desperation, silent pleas of please love me and please accept me that threaten to drag them away like the morning tide.

Suho didn't protest to being pushed down again. Kyungsoo again trailed kisses all over his jaw, up to his ear and down his neck, biting a little and seeing what drew a reaction. His eyes should be closed, Suho thought, but he saw the window over Kyungsoo's shoulder, the waves of the ocean rising and falling to step onto shore just to decide it wasn't worth it and returning to open water.

"Hey." Kyungsoo's hands were warm on Suho's cheek and rolled his head to face Kyungsoo. "Look at me. Only look at me."

The selkie smiled.

Kyungsoo sat up in bed in the early morning. He was tired, so tired, and Suho laid beside him, sound asleep and facing the violet waters of the nighttime ocean, his back towards Kyungsoo.

Late in typhoon season, Kyungsoo woke up alone. The bed was cool, and Suho's borrowed shoes were missing from the porch. He didn't let himself panic; Suho had to come back.

He ate breakfast alone.

He repaired nets that needing mending, took stock of the food he had in his icebox and cabinets, and made a list of what he'd need.

Lunch was a cold ham sandwich.

It always smelled like salt, living so close to the water, but he tossed some more lavender into the steamer trunk and left some dried stems and flowers in a small linen bag tied with twine on a low shelf in the closet.

After a late dinner, Kyungsoo was putting away the leftover portion when he heard soft footfalls on the front porch. Suho opened the door, toed off his shoes, and closed the door behind him without looking up from the floor.

"Suho?" Kyungsoo set the spoon and bowl onto the table and approached cautiously, touching the selkie's shoulder. "Suho."

"Hm?" The selkie blinked, looking no more awake and barely alert, as though muddling through a dream. "Yes?"

"Look at me."

Suho faced Kyungsoo, and his heart shrank behind his ribs. The beautiful, deep eyes were a duller brown, like tarnished copper. Purple clung beneath his eyes, as if someone tried wiping away ink but merely smudged it.

"Where were you? The aquarium isn't open today."

"I went to the beach."

"It's dangerous to be out there so late." Kyungsoo touched his cheek, nearly flinching at how cold it felt. "You even told me that, remember?"

"I know, I was just lonely."

Guilt clenched his heart in its fist. "Are you hungry?"

Suho shook his head, staring at Kyungsoo's chin. "No, thank you."

Kyungsoo couldn't reply. The guilt clawed at his chest to sit heavily in his throat, so he didn't say anything. He retracted his hand, and Suho watched the ocean.

Kyungsoo stared at himself in the mirror over the bathroom sink. He was lonely. He knew he was.

His eyes accused him, You had no right. What had possessed him to think it would be okay to take something as precious as someone's freedom to relieve his own loneliness? You're cruel. He worked all year around. Taking days off couldn't forgive his long absences. He was turning into his dad, on the water more than he was on land.

Maybe that's why his mother died.

From loneliness.

The smell of salt and lavender prickled his eyes with tears, turning them pink, and he couldn't look at himself anymore. He dropped his head between his shoulders and watched his tears dribble down the bowl of the sink.

The seals found Suho sitting on the white beach, legs crossed and elbows on his knees, squinting across the sparkling water while the breeze tossed his hair like the grass above the rocks. They call out excitedly, shuffling out of the water and swarming around him to sniff his face and nudge under his arms and sprawl across his legs. He's forced back and tried to stay upright with his elbows in the sand but gave in and stretched out over the sand without much fuss.

His clothes were soaked, but he felt warmer beneath a pile of seals than he did sitting in front of a fire wrapped in a blanket that smelled like lavender and soap.

Clouds hang heavy in the sky. Some were gainsboro, a dirty white, and others were darker, blown across the endless cerulean and hinting at rain.

Suho ran his hand along the back of one of the seals until the short, thick fur sat completely smooth against its body. It felt foreign to him; he was used to wearing such a coat but never really acknowledging how it felt to his human hands when he'd set it aside to sing and play.

After lying silent for so long, the sudden grunts and growls from the seals frighten Suho. They move closer to him, facing the rocks and hitting the sand with aggressive flippers.

Kyungsoo hopped off the rocks to stand at the far side of the beach, but Suho could only stare at the seal skin—his seal skin—draped over the human's arms.

Suho sat up and tripped over a stray flipper in his haste to stand. He pet the pelt lightly, scratching the spotty a fur a little to be sure it was real before taking it in his hands. It smelled faintly of lavender.

"I am so sorry." Kyungsoo's eyes were pink, and his face showed wet tracks leading to his chin.

For the first time in months, Suho smiled. His lips turned up at the corners and pushed his cheeks towards his eyes to make little crescents while parting to show brilliant white teeth, and he laughed breathily. The seals made a commotion behind him, calling him back to the water.

Suho held his seal skin to his chest with one arm and cupped the human's cheek in his other hand to kiss him, tasting salt.

Kyungsoo sat on a rock and watched Suho rip the sweater and undershirt over his head, tossing it off one arm to shimmy out of his pants and underwear. The shoes were kicked off—he never wore socks—and the tops landed nearer to Kyungsoo's feet.

As the selkie shuffled down the beach towards home, he looked back once to Kyungsoo, barked, and dove into the water.

The human gathered his clothes and climbed the rocks to his empty house.

When the selkies shuffled up to shore, stripping away their seal skins and starting to sing and dance. Kyungsoo watched from a safe distance away, a pile of dry clothes beside him. The selkies didn't mind him, anymore. Some of the younger ones tried to get him to come dance, but he refused and waved them away with a grin.

The guardian changed last, tossing his skin alongside his family and friends', and climbed the rocks to greet Kyungsoo with an ocean-cold kiss that sent hot shivers down both their spines.

"Hello," he greeted with another kiss to Kyungsoo's cheek.

"You're dripping on my clothes."

Suho smiled against Kyungsoo's lips, taking the bottom one between his teeth and pulling just the slightest bit. Salt water slipped down his face, hitting Kyungsoo's mouth and dotting his jeans like raindrops.

"So take them off."

Kyungsoo lived on land, and Suho lived in the water, but the tides brought them together.