"You are fine. You are good. Just breath," Ian said, reaching out to keep her upright.

"Just to inform you, that is not me good," she said as she gasped. "This is normal?"

"For beginners, yes. You are almost there," he said encouragingly.

Sonora shook her head, she did not feel, in any way, that she was almost there.

When Ian had suggested it, she'd eagerly gone along with it. She wanted to swim as free at the Atlantians did, but it was much harder then she'd thought it would be. The speed of the air that blasted from the breather was intense. Her instinct was to hold her breath from the onslaught. It took some getting used to, to say the least.

But a couple more times and she had it down. She would have to breathe a whole lot more than they did but she could do it. She and Ian and loaded up on the breathers, and then she dropped down the door to the ocean.

She took her time getting used to it, staying just below the door, slowing twirling around in the warm water. Ian sat on the edge, legs dangling in the ocean, ready to reach in and scoop her up if she started choking.

She used the breather three or four times flawlessly before moving away from the door, and then the building.

Sonora had expected the feeling of freedom and exhilaration. What she had not expected is that swimming in the deep ocean without a mask or tank almost seemed like being naked in public. It just seemed all wrong.

Sonora had expelled all of her air and it was time to use the breather. She maneuvered awkwardly and missed most of the oxygen. She turned to Ian, who hovered a bit behind her on her right and shook her head, then headed back to his home.

Sonora didn't get too far. Ian grabbed one of her kicking feet and held it. She looked at him again, this time with raised eyebrows. He imitated using the breather.

"No," she mouthed as she shook her head again.

But Ian wasn't going to let it go. He tugged on her foot again, this time bringing her right up beside him. He nodded his encouragement to her.

He was right, she knew, she'd been excited to learn how to do this. Still she was frightened, if she didn't inhale properly this time, she would have to race for the door. She turned to Ian, grasping his arm with her free hand.

Ian brought his hand up and laid it on his chest, indicating he was there. He wouldn't let her drown. Then he put the hand around her waist to support her.

Sonora nodded, trusting him. At the same time, she wondered how just yesterday she was more afraid of him then the ocean and now it was the other way around. Instead of swimming from him, she was seeking his comfort.

She raised the breather and tried again. Successful this time, her lungs filled with air and feeling excited about her success, she clapped her hands. Moving away from Ian, she began to enjoy the ocean without the normal cumbersome equipment.

A couple of dolphins swam over, bringing their bit of seaweed to play catch. They seemed careful with her, as if they could tell she wasn't as skilled as Ian in the water. Occasionally, they would push her upward like they were trying to send her home, knowing she didn't belong here. You and me both, she thought, as she reached out to pet them again.

Ian enjoyed the dolphin's company as much as they did his, whistling and clicking at them, then listening as they talked back. She listened to the back and forth wondering if there was any real communication between them, or if it was more like the basic communication of a human with their pet.

With a start, Sonora realized that she had been enjoying her time so much that she hadn't kept track of how many breathers she had left. Showing Ian the one she had in her hand, she pointed to him, hoping he would understand that she was asking if he had any more.

Nervously, she glanced back at his home. They had drifted further away then she'd thought.

When she heard it, she told herself to calm, she knew what it was and there was no danger. But Ian's reverberating voice saying, "Last one" as he held up another cylinder surrounded her again and somehow moved through her like the sound wave of a thousand speakers on full blast. It was terrifying in a visceral way. Logic could not help her, logic didn't enter into it at all.

She trembled with the effort of keeping in the air she had just inhaled but it rushed from her. Telling herself not to panic, she reached for the last breather, but his hand was already putting it to her mouth. Once Sonora had a hold on it, Ian let go, it was better for her to operate it herself.

Somehow though, the hand-off failed and the cylinder fell, sinking much faster then Sonora would have imagined. Her flailing hands reached for it, spinning it once but never catching it.

Ian started to go for it but stopped and looked at her. Watching it drop, Sonora had gasped. The water rushing into her throat felt foreign and her instinct was to cough, and soon. She put a hand on her throat and looked at Ian. His eyes widened, there would only be seconds before she would choke and with that would come more water.

Ian grabbed Sonora, holding her tight against the length of him. His face was set and hard as he eyed the distance between them and the door to his home. He compressed his lips, and Sonora knew he was cursing himself for how far away they had drifted.

Sonora wrapped her arms around Ian, barely reaching around him to grasp her hands together behind him. She trembled as she staved off her desire for air. It was a battle of her will versus her flesh now.

If she had not already been alarmed, Ian's take off would have had a greater impact. It was so fast the force of the water squeezed her body tighter to his.

He swam as the dolphins did, the waving motion giving him a much swifter pace. Even so, the speed amazed Sonora. The dolphins closely flanked him helping to lessen the drag of the water, further increasing his speed.

It was much faster than she had ever dreamed a human could go, even one such as him. He was capable of more than she thought. Still, it was not enough.

Sonora banged on Ian's back with one of her fists, urging him on. They were so close, if she could just hold out a little longer, just a little more.

Her need for oxygen was winning. Her body bucked in his arms as she used everything to fight against it, and failed. Determined to fill with something, her body disobeyed and filled with the only thing available. Water.

Once it started on its path, it would not stop. It continued until her lungs were filled to the top. Sonora screamed her death knell as her drowning body jerked against Ian's with such force he had trouble holding her.

With her last bits of consciousness, she saw Ian's terror-filled face as he looked down at her. He does really care about me. 

Then her gaze strayed to the last air bubbles rising from her mouth into the ocean above her as the light seemed to fade around her.

She felt Ian's large hand firmly clasped the back of her head and his speed increase as he continued his onslaught home.


A/N: A surprise is coming for Sea Bound. I wonder if anyone has guessed? :) Please press the little star if you liked the chapter. 

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