Jason’s first trip to China was in his childhood. Peeking into the windows of each store and every market, he reveled in the unfamiliar daily sights of the beautiful country. The streets were alive with sounds and people, warm spices from the food vendors in the air.
It was at Yiya World's pet store in Beijing that he discovered his interest in animals. Fish, especially. Young Jason had been caught up with his nose pressed to the glass of an aquarium, lost in the details of the underwater world that he almost didn't hear his mother calling for him to leave.
"I'll come back to get you one day." Jason whispered before he reluctantly walked away, a secret conversation between him and a curious Yellow Tang swimming alone in the tank. He wasn't able to get that same fish later on, nor did he even purchase a Yellow Tang down the road.
Jason, now an adult with fame and fortune, found his comfort in a medium-sized goldfish. Ordinary, a little boring considering he has the money to buy three dozen rare species of unusually beautiful fish without batting an eyelash in financial concern. Something about the simple goldfish, its sharply vibrant golden-orange scales and smooth fluid movements in the water captured Jason's attention like no other.
Jason was sure to purchase the finest tank, one with wide space and expensive food available at any moment. There was hired help when he was touring, but nothing brought him more joy than sitting in his pajamas and observing his little goldfish swim around gracefully.
He'd named it Sicheng, a Chinese name in honor of the origin of his fish interest. Fitting, Jason had thought. Now, sitting in front of his tank on a late Thursday evening with all his work completed, he watches Sicheng twirl and practically dances at the attention, racing in rapid little wiggles to the top when food bits appear.
From inside the tank, Sicheng looks with admiration upon his wonderful owner. So big and so strong. Comforting. Sicheng himself is just a little goldfish. Nothing too special and he knows it, but Jason makes him feel otherwise, even if he can't understand it. Despite his fishly insecurities, he knows he makes his owner happy and that's what he gladly lives for. He'll even jump and flip when Jason looks stressed, knowing it'll make him smile without fail.
Really, Sicheng lives a good life as Jason's pet. Day in and day out, he swims happily in his carefully created underwater wonderland, appreciative of the luxurious foods and variety of plants to brush against. All that matters is that he's loved and cared for, a wonderful owner giving him a worthwhile life.
But sometimes he has these strange thoughts, like this evening.
He wants nothing more than to be one with his owner, to be a part of him, but it's such a complicated feeling -- he only has a fish brain and can't ponder the concept too deeply before his head starts to hurt in confusion. Maybe it's intense appreciation, admiration, or maybe he just wants to see the world through human eyes. He doesn't even know how it could be possible.
The human world is strange, full of oxygen and bottled drinking water and tennis balls. For some reason, tennis balls frighten him. Sicheng has heard of The Toilet but he can't imagine being flushed down one. Only the unluckiest experience The Flush of Doom. Cold, dark, dirty water. Sicheng shivers, water lightly rippling outwards.
Bringing his thoughts back to Jason, Sicheng swims up to the top of the tank where Jason's fingers are now poking through the surface. As always, Sicheng gives little head bumps and fish kisses on the pads of his owner's fingers, enjoying the warmth and petting when he stills. The attention is comforting.
He hates when Jason is gone, or even worse, on tour. The lady who feeds him and cleans his tank water is nice, but she's not safe and lovely and beautiful like Jason. Looking intently at his owner, Sicheng says, I wish I could be one with you. Air bubbles trail from his mouth to the surface. For some reason, he's confident Jason understands.
It's almost telepathy, the way his owner smiles knowingly. Their bond is unlike anything else. Something strong and undeniable pulls them together at this moment, unsure of what provoked this change but it's there nonetheless, and it’s a sudden fire.
Jason dips his hands into the tank, cupping them together to form a bowl that Sicheng is drawn to, glady swimming right into his palms. I trust you, he thinks. Everything is feeling like an adventure at this moment, especially when his owner carefully lifts him out of the water. Air, oxygen, it’s so sudden when the comfortable water is no longer surrounding him. Air, air, air. He’s flopping. He’s squirming and he can’t breathe, but-
But then Sicheng looks up at his owner, and Jason smiles a timid smile. Something sparkling in his eyes. Sicheng doesn’t worry about breathing anymore. In fact, he suddenly starts to feel like he can breathe better than ever, even with human air. He’s okay. Jason is making him okay. Everything is… okay.
He enters Jason’s pockets, dark and roomy in the sweatpants. Surprisingly, Sicheng doesn’t mind the lint and stray fuzz that gets stuck to his scales. It’s Jason’s lint. He can feel walking, walking, walking until they’re somewhere else and Jason’s hand once again picks him up tenderly and into the light.
Human lights are so bright, they really are. But Jason sets him onto something cool and refreshing. Trust is running through his fishly body, he feels safe somehow. Glancing at his surroundings, he sees a sink. Large and made of shiny silver metal. Many cabinets, probably dozens. Something shiny and long with a handle. Little boxes. What is this place?
“My little fish.” Jason whispers directly to Sicheng where he lay comfortably on the cool surface. He still can’t figure out what it is. It’s circular, white with colorful decorations around the edges. Watching Jason is fun, breathing human air is fun, seeing his owner grab things here and there from the cupboard and begin to decorate the surface he’s on is fun. Something green, like a plant, is set beside him.
“A bit of parsley,” Jason hums, setting more bits of the plant near Sicheng’s still fishly body. Is his owner decorating him? Making him pretty? What is parsley? He hears a cacophony of sounds suddenly in the large room and he hasn’t ever heard human sounds like this before. Everything sounds different underwater, after all.
Jason sways his body to the strange sounds. “Gotta love some Falling in Reverse, right Sicheng?” He continues moving and shaking his hips to the sounds. Sicheng watches in amusement, enjoying seeing his owner happy, even if the sounds are weird to his own hear holes.
His fish nostrils tingle when a black dusty substance is sprinkled around him, a spicy fragrance with it. He doesn’t know what it is, but he hears Jason softly say, “A dash of pepper, mm mm. Beautiful.”
Jason thinks Sicheng is beautiful? His heart swells. Dances. Sicheng is in fish heaven. The pepper - was that what it was called? - didn’t even bother him. It’s probably like fish food, right? Continuing with his staring, Sicheng can’t help but watch Jason as he plugs a single nostril with his finger, quickly breathing in something white through some sort of little straw. He doesn’t know, he’s a fish for God’s sake. But whatever it is, Jason looks happy. So he likes it.
“Whew!” His owner exclaims. “That’s the good stuff. Want some, Sicheng? Nah, I’m just playin’.” In a fit of laughter, he takes the surface that Sicheng lay on and relocates him to a smaller room. Adventure in the human world, Sicheng thinks. With a clink, he and the strange white tray are set into a shiny box. Its loud door closes shut, and he stares out at Jason through a clear-grey window of sorts.
He hears a beep, another beep, and then Sicheng’s tray begins to spin slowly. There’s a sudden heat in the box. Heat, actual warmth. It feels… kind of nice. Jason’s big eyes are looking directly at him through the opaque window and it’s his owner's happiness that brings him comfort, even if he doesn’t know what's going on. He’s just warm, very warm for a while.
Sicheng starts to smell something strange, a fish odor. Sizzling. Is it him? Is he going to smell weird around Jason? There’s no time to be self-conscious, not when he hears another beep and Jason is opening the box’s door.
“Mmm, smells good.” Jason says, eyeing Sicheng on his white tray. “Oven broke, hope you don’t mind the microwave. I sure don’t. Oh, where’s my knife? Nah fuck it, we’re going caveman style. Hands!”
Sicheng isn’t sure what some of the words mean, only watching lazily as Jason picks up two shiny silver sticks with pointy edges. Before he knows it, his owner has a white napkin tucked inside his shirt and is picking him up by his fins carefully, tenderly. Sicheng trusts him wholeheartedly.
“Don’t mind if I do.” His owner says softly with an undeniable excitement, and Sicheng is suddenly closer and closer to Jason’s parted lips. He doesn't know what's happening, what he should be feeling, but he’s entering his owner's mouth before he realizes it, and-
In a single swallow, Sicheng is surrounded by comforting darkness, warmth and love and world peace. Sicheng is so safe here, sliding down the inside of his owner. This is what he wanted all the time and didn’t even realize it - to be one with his owner, this is what he’s desired from the very beginning.
Encapsulated by the gentle pressure of the stomach around him, he hears the heartbeat of his incredible owner, feels the love and the tender affection physically around him. Here, inside the belly of Jason Derulo. He relaxes fully, the slosh of stomach juices making him feel at home as if it's the sounds of his tank. Sicheng even feels the vibrations when Jason speaks. It’s all he ever wanted. One with his owner, a love incomparable to any other. Sicheng is happy here. He knows Jason is, too.