VII

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"For fuck's sake, Lance," Keith grumbled. "Not right now."

He looked disappointed for a second, before transitioning quickly into an impish grin. "But you don't know how. And I," He pointed to his chest for emphasis, "can teach you!"

Keith checked his watch. "It's 1 in the morning."

"You're up anyway."

"I don't want to be."

"But you are,"

The boy sighed at the last statement.

"You might as well do something!"

There really wasn't any way Keith could argue with that. Besides- it was unlikely he would've gone back to sleep in the first place. He sighed, shaggy raven hair tickling his temples. The boy thought about all the sailors sucked into this ocean -all by different circumstances, of course- never to return. He thought of his father, taken by the same sea that had provided for him and his family for so long. He thought of his mother, a naiad-like creature at the mercy of the wind and waves, taken from him and given back by the same hand.

"Let's go."

***

It was actually rather comical to see Keith tailing Lance, goosestepping along the seawall with his arms outstretched in the twilight. Lance was, of course, bringing up the rear in case Keith stumbled and to yell out directions.

It was uncomfortably quiet for a few minutes before Keith initiated the conversation. 

"So," Said Keith, trying to phrase his next question in the most eloquent way possible.

"So what?" They stopped for a minute, Lance's black eyes staring at him inquisitively.

"What happens when you, like, dry off or whatever?"

"You're gonna have to be more specific."

"You know what I mean!" Keith huffed. "Like, do you grow legs like in books?"

Lance stopped, swirling his tail in an attempt to tread water. "'like in books'. Whoever said books were always right?" He stated with the notably added flair of air quotes.

"So you don't know?" Keith chuckled, transitioning to a sitting position, his legs dangling over the concrete wall.

Lance babbled in frustration before managing to choke out; "Of course I know!" before adding under his breath "...sorta."

"What was that?" Keith gestured at his ear, smirking softly, almost unnoticeable in the twilight. "I couldn't hear you."

"It was nothing important. Come on, let's go."

Keith chuckled. "No no no no no. We're gonna have to make a deal."

Lance sighed at that, shifting into the more neutral position of floating on his back. "What?"

"You teach me to swim, and I see if you have legs."

"Fair enough," groaned Lance as he drifted slowly with the current. He suddenly popped back up. "Shake on it." He reached out a single webbed hand to Keith.

"Deal." They shook, Keith noting how strangely warm his hand was.

"In fact," Smirked Lance as he grabbed his friend's arm with a newly acquired fervor. "Let's start now."

The lights in three other houses came on as Keith sputtered and cursed as he was dragged by the waist out to some undisclosed location along the shoreline. The villagers would dismiss it as a bird attempting to grab a fish too large for its beak, or some dumbass seal going for a midnight swim. Neither of which was, incidentally, too far from the truth.


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