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you talk to me in siren song (anyone would drown)

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Maybe I was naïve,
Got lost in your eyes

Yuuma dreams of being underwater, of a bright blue world. He is always floating, pulled along by some current through a vast and empty sea, and though the surface is far above him and so is the sun, he has no trouble seeing or breathing.

He is going somewhere, going to someone, and though in dreams Yuuma can call their name, he always wakes with on the tip of his tongue, just out of reach. He fists the blankets, and plays with the pendants he always wears — the golden key his father left him before he disappeared, and the silver fang he bought in a pawn shop last year.

Yuuma doesn’t know why he bought it. He got lost one afternoon, and as he passed by the shop he had a sudden desire to go inside, to rifle through the shelves while the shopkeeper looked on, bemused, until he found the fang tucked away. There’s no photograph in the slot in the back; Yuuma doesn’t feel right putting one in. He gets the sense that the necklace is something he needs, but it doesn’t belong to him.

The name he can never remember when he wakes, the fang that he never takes off, the collection of shark-themed cards in his desk (Yuuma uses a modified version of his father’s deck, but he’s been fixated on sharks since he was a child), the way Yuuma sometimes stops and stands in places he’s never been and feels an intense longing…it’s all connected. All his life, it seems, someone has been missing, calling out for him down deep in the sea.

+++++

One night Yuuma is among the stars.

They spiral around him, leaving colored streaks of light behind them like comet trails, and Yuuma calls out to them not to go, but they all do — all but for one, which lingers near him, until he could reach out and grab it, and Yuuma sees a face for an instant, blue eyes and a sharp jaw — and then the Big Dipper flashes behind his eyelids, and Yuuma wakes up.

He rolls out of the hammock. He’s never dreamed about constellations before, even though his father taught them to him once. Yuuma pulls up a star chart on his computer, the screen glowing in the dark as his heart races.

He’s been going to aquariums and standing on the docks and collecting sharks his whole life, trying to figure out why there is a hole in him, and now he finally has a clue.

There are seven stars in that asterism — Dubhe, Merak, Megrez, Alioth, Mizar, Phecda…and Benetnasch.

Yuuma repeats the name out loud. “Benetnasch,” he says, and the word is sweet in his mouth. What a beautiful name, he thinks. What a beautiful star.

He goes up to the roof and finds it in the heavens above, and he watches it shine until the sun blots it out again.

Who are you?

+++++

Today he’s in love again, lingering in the plaza outside the station and waiting for Kotori to meet him. They’re going to a festival, to eat street food and duel and listen to live music, and normally these are things that Yuuma loves, but today is one of the dreaming days, where the absence in his life is strong.

And Yuuma thinks he must be in love with the void, because without knowing anything about them, without knowing if they even exist (No, Yuuma thinks, they must exist), his heart pounds and his stomach flips and he feels a phantom joy from this place. Maybe that person was here, because Yuuma feels nostalgic just watching the trains go by.

Kotori arrives and Yuuma tries to pay attention to her, but then at the festival he sees the band play, and the guitarist has long hair that reaches his shoulders. He played the guitar, too, Yuuma remembers, and he stands there and listens to the music, tries to fit the face from his starlight dreams into reality, until Kotori drags him away.

Yuuma wins her a plushie to make it up to her, a Duel Monsters one that Yuuma doesn’t recognize — Black something Lancer, maybe, Yuuma is bad with names — but she laughs and makes him keep it.

“You seem awfully distracted, Yuuma,” she says as they grab cherry candy at a roadside stand. “Did you fall in love?”

“No!” Yuuma blushes. “I was up late looking at the stars!”

“Sure sounds like you’re in love to me,” she teases, and she makes him hold her bag while she tries on jewelry at one of the vendors. One of the pairs of earrings is shark-shaped.

Yuuma buys them, even though his ears aren’t even pierced.

+++++

One night Benetnasch is blue.

Yuuma looks up to track the movement of his favorite star, leaning out the window of the attic, and instead of white the star is bright blue against the dark sky. It is the color of the water in his dreams, and and so it must mean something, and Yuuma grabs his jacket off the floor and slides on his shoes. He sneaks out a side window, because there’s a creaky board near the door.

The night is chilly, and Yuuma doesn’t know where to begin looking. He doesn’t even know what he’s looking for, does he? It’s always this way. The clues he has don’t add up to anything, the stars won’t answer his questions, and all Yuuma has are sharks and deep seas and the bone-deep knowledge that he misses someone, someone like a star, who he has never met.

“I can’t even remember your name,” Yuuma complains to the night sky. “Where are you?”

The night remains quiet. Yuuma starts walking.

His feet take him to the edge of the city, where the docks spread out from shore in a network of wood and rope. There are few boats there, and most of them are little more than canoes; these dock are hardly ever used anymore. The city built newer, better ones in a different part of the city, near the beaches where people brought their families to play. These are the docks where Yuuma and his father came to fish, though. These are the ones that Yuuma comes to, to stare down into the water where it looks deceptively shallow, and wonder what exactly would happen, if he jumped off and let himself sink.

Once Yuuma came here for a duel. At least, he thought it was for a duel; once he arrived, he couldn’t remember who he’d come to duel, or why. He just remembered feeling that there was a score to be settled.

Maybe you came to these docks, Yuuma thinks. Maybe you come here when I don’t, and think about me.

He can see the stars reflected on the water’s surface, a bright blue smear where Benetnasch is smiling down on the sea, and Yuuma kneels down by the edge of the docks to skim his fingers across the surface. It’s cold. Too cold for swimming. That’s what he tells himself — and it’s only a reflection, and touching it won’t mean anything — and Yuuma decides that he should go home. Sleep, and hope to dream again, hope that he will remember that person’s name this time.

Then he steps off the dock and lets the water take him.

+++++

A soft touch against his face wakes Yuuma up.

“Wake up already,” someone is saying. A low voice, Yuuma thinks, one he has heard somewhere before. Irritated, but they don’t mean it, not really. He opens his eyes to see that face — blue eyes, narrowed purple brows, every feature sharp — above his own, framed by a sky full of stars.

“You could have drowned,” the boy says. He’s sitting on the rock beside Yuuma, one cold palm against Yuuma’s face; from the waist down he has a thick purple tale like a shark’s, studded with scarlet gems that glitter.

“It’s okay,” Yuuma replies. His eyelids feel a bit heavy, but he doesn’t want to close them and miss the sight of the boy’s face. It’s just right, and Yuuma knows without asking that he’s an aggressive duelist and he walks with his hands in his pockets and the bare hollow of his throat is supposed to be filled with the fang around Yuuma’s neck. “You were here to save me.”

He reaches for the fang around his neck and unclasps it; the boy inclines his head so Yuuma can fasten it around his throat. The silver fang dangles between his collarbones.

“Shark?” Yuuma asks, and there it is, the sweet taste of the right name on his tongue, and Yuuma has to close his mouth or risk repeating it over and over, letting it echo off the rocks all over the sea.

“What took you so long?”

“I didn’t know you were a mermaid,” Yuuma begins, indignant, and he is cut off by Shark’s mouth that tastes of salt, by his hands that seize Yuuma’s shoulders to hold him still.

They lie there on the rocks and kiss, and in between kisses Shark growls into his ear, his wet hair dripping onto Yuuma’s shirt — stay with me, dammit, he says.

There are so many reasons that Yuuma cannot, for he must swim back to shore, go home to his family, live his life away from the water. But Shark is with him here, calling him down into the dark waters of his dreams, and Yuuma wants to sink with him, hands clasped, just to wash away his loneliness.

“Will you bring me back?”

“Maybe,” Shark says, and Yuuma believes him, and when Shark rolls sharply to the side and off the rock, dragging Yuuma with him into the ocean, he doesn’t’ resist.

And then he is under, somewhere ice cold and blue with Shark’s arms around him, and the stars in the sky cannot reach him anymore — but at least he is not alone, at least there is no one to miss –