The merman is in the middle of the room in a shallow pool of water. The water is still around him, like glass, and he barely moves as Arthur steps towards him. The high lights illuminate him, casting him in warm shades and reflecting off the surface. His arms are tied above his head, arms stretched upwards, muscles taut, and gleaming gold rope wrapped all around, binding him to a pole. Matching tassels fall against the bump of his bound wrists, laying flat on his skin.
Arthur’s cheeks feel warm and he might be giddy.
The merman looks up slowly, drawing his chin up from where it rests on his chest. He stares at Arthur, sullen, lashes casting a shadow on his cheeks as his low-lidded gaze meets Arthur.
“Oh.” Arthur breathes out. “I understand why he said I would like you.”
The merman has a scarf wrapped around his mouth, sliding between pale lips. It is bright red, contrasting with his white skin and Arthur wonders if this was the merman’s first time on land.
He shivers, just a little, and the merman’s keen eyes narrow.
Arthur steps forward, to the edge of the pool. It isn’t deep, just enough to keep the merman calm and lucid. Too far from water and they panic, turn feral and they flail and writhe until they pass out.
The merman watches him, hair framing his face. It isn’t wet, anymore, and it falls in soft curls around his chin.
Arthur toes off his shoes, setting the expensive leather away from the reach of the water. He takes off his suit, next, and when he’s finally unclothed, he steps into the water. It is deeper than expected and eventually it settles around his waist as he wades towards his merman.
He touches the length of his tail as he approaches, eyeing the multitude of gleaming scales under the rippling water. There is delicate chain around his fin, with a little anchor-shaped lock keeping him tethered to the sandy bottom. Arthur dips a little bit, grabs a handful of sand and deftly rubs it onto the merman’s tail gently.
The merman twitches, eyes narrowing further, and he jerks away but Arthur just tsks.
“You should be nicer.” He lets the rest of the sand fall as he slides his hand upwards, letting his fingers splay over smooth scales. “I am, after all, quite nice, you see.”
The merman wrinkles his nose and Arthur, avoiding the other’s slit, presses his fingers into the edge of tail and flesh. He presses down just a little bit more, letting his thumb stroke the soft skin.
Arthur eyes the merman, catching sight of the string of pearls looped around his hair, caught in his curls. Those are his only adornments and Arthur has to appreciate how well Francis knows him.
“You were caught off the cliffs of Dover.” He says quietly. “I know your kind, though, and you hardly stray from Halifax. Now how did you end up so close to my childhood home?”
The merman watches him warily, nostrils slightly flared and lips pulled back in a slight snarl. Arthur just stares at him, hand coming up to hold his jaw. The merman jerks, sending water in the air but Arthur holds firm and, with his other hand, slides two fingers into his mouth. He presses back his lips, his thumb coming to press against the sodden fabric.
He makes a displeased noise, eyeing the filed edges of once-razor canines. “Only a fool would try to convince Francis that his aesthetic sense leaves something to be desired. Though, I suppose it did not help that you nearly snapped off his finger.” Francis is his friend but Arthur can’t hold back a smirk. He removes his fingers, some lingering wetness cooling along the ridges of his fingerprints.
The merman is flushed now, revealed gills a furious shade of red and Arthur is grateful for the bindings because he could be dying right now. But he’s charmed, terribly so, by the tempest in those deep eyes and by the red spreading down the expanse of the merman’s lean body. He kisses the corner of his mouth, lips warm against right where the fabric slides into his scowl and the merman turns his face away.
It’s fine, though. Arthur isn’t looking for affection. He doesn’t expect to find it in the half-feral heart of a beast though he wouldn’t mind it. He has an itch, however. It is a terrible itch, festering beneath his skin and rotting away everything else until Arthur satisfies it.
“I think I’ve always loved your kind.” Arthur says, drawing his fingers down the other’s chest. “You know, one of your folk saved me. As a boy, I fell off a boat. I could not have been more than five or six. I had not yet learned to swim.”
Arthur doesn’t mention that he never learned to swim, after that. Because even months later he still remembered the hazy, soft white edges of that endless expanse of shadow hidden under the barrier of foam-tipped waves. He remembers bubbles and pressure in his chest, being terrified and kicking his legs until wiry arms wrapped around his chest. There was a flare of light, a thousand colors, and then he was on shore with his mother’s Shalimar soaked blouse and her tears in his hair.
People thought he was mad for years and thought he lost too much oxygen. But he learned folklore and myths and could weave stories and recite long-forgotten legends because if he could prove the existence of one mythical beast, he could find others. Maybe it was an obsession. Arthur tended not to prematurely judge.
Thanks to the shrinking of the world, it became much easier to find his merman.
It became much easier to find brothels that catered to men and women with too much money and an unsteady grasp on morality and few qualms about anything else.
He doesn’t know where to begin but he knows, more than anyone ever has the right to know, really, what he might like.
Arthur kisses the bluish-green edge of the merman’s gill, lower lip catching on the flap of skin. The merman doesn’t need them right now but that doesn’t mean he can ignore them. The skin tastes metallic under his tongue, like the gills rusted over as they dried, and Arthur kisses, again and again, making his way down the line of the merman’s neck to the slope of his shoulder.
He keeps his hands on his thighs, turning his head to kiss one of the bound arms.
“I would untie you. But there is a reason you are as you are.” He laments. “You terrible, murderous thing.”
The merman still refuses to look at him, even though his chest is rising and falling rapidly, breath harsh.
Arthur is hard, now. He presses against the merman’s side, shuddering at the feel of those scales against his cock, groaning when he rubs another way and feels the rough edge of them touch his sensitive skin.
He strokes lower, now, smoothing his hand over the iridescent scales, blue and purple and silver, wondering at the strength of it and keeps kissing the edge of the merman’s collarbone.
He stops at the edge of the merman’s slit, idly petting the fainter, smoother scales. The merman jerks against his bonds, thrashes almost, and Arthur presses close, whispering and cooing into his ear.
“Hush now.” His fingertips search out the slit of scale, dipping just so beyond the edge, feeling smooth muscle, just inside, fluttering. He kisses the merman on the cheek, at the corner of his mouth. Arthur then presses his nose into the merman’s hair, tasting salt on his tongue and thinking he can almost hear the thrum of the ocean. “I am being quite gentle. I doubt you will find a patron who will humor you as much as I.”
The merman suddenly seems to laugh at that. If you can call that harsh, hoarse sound in the back of his throat a laugh. He looks over at Arthur then, mouth still parted by the scarf. His eyes are amused, bright, and Arthur’s breath stalls.
There is intelligence set deep in those eyes right alongside derision and Arthur thinks Francis knows him too well because there is no docility or sweetness in that gaze. Or resignation.
“You would love to kill me.” Arthur might just be mad. He is grinning.
He slides two fingers into the slit of the merman’s cloaca and the merman writhes, head tipping back to bump against the pole. He draws his tail up as much as he can, the muscles in his stomach bunching as he curls inwards, whine deep in his throat.
Arthur pulls them out, dreadfully slow, making sure to linger along the walls of smooth muscle, dragging out the wetness within. The merman jerks again, this time tail snapping straight and when Arthur finally removes his fingers, there’s a curl of grey dissipating into the water, drifting around the surface, out of the slit.
He’s harder, now, if possible, ache spreading down and up and he moves up to partly straddle the merman.
Arthur drags his fingers up the slit, eyes half-lidded. He circles the area, presses his thumb down hard on the cut of scale, letting it slip in just barely. He switches back to two fingers, letting his thumb act as a an anchor as he continues to draw out more of the fluid by thrusting his fingers in and out slowly, purposefully.
The merman’s face is flooded with red, eyes closed, and he turns away, hands balling into fists above him.
Arthur hooks his other thumb into the corner of the merman’s mouth and drags his gaze back to him. He smirks, jagged and sharp and the merman glares at him, nostrils flared.
He holds his gaze, slides in one more finger alongside the other two and groans when the merman clenches around him. Arthur uses his weight to keep the merman pinned when he tries to buck him off. Arthur has one hand on his dick, keeping in time to his other hand. The merman writhes, head thrown back, flush creeping down his neck and Arthur chases it with his mouth, tongue and teeth and the merman gasps, warmth and wetness soaking Arthur’s fingers and then he comes, swearing.
The water around them is smoggy for a moment before it filters away, the silted dregs of the fluids swirling around them as both breathe heavily. The merman breathes harshly, gills fluttering uselessly. He doesn’t look at Arthur and Arthur tries not to think about it, just kisses his gills once and dips his hand a few times in the water before standing up and shaking them dry.
He doesn’t even put on his clothes and, instead, unearths his cell phone from the depths of his jacket.
Arthur doesn’t wait for Francis to finish speaking, voice curt as he says, and “I’ll double whatever you pay to keep him.” He hangs up and glances back at his merman.
“I’ll bring you something nice next time.”