Disclaimer: I donít own Yu-Gi-Oh! Only Yugiís parents are mine. The ending of Sea of Rage presented many possibilities that resulted in this story being written.
Chapter One- Shifting Views
Seto saw a blond human conversing with Princes Yugi and Yami but he didn't hear what was being said. His eyes were locked on the blond and all he heard were his thoughts about said human.
'He looks exactly like Joey. If he were human. But, I thought he died. I have to meet him.'
Seto's thoughts stopped long enough to hear the blond say, "You two want to go swimming tomorrow?"
"Sorry. Mother and Father want to discuss our wedding outfits tomorrow."
"That's okay. I'll go swimming tomorrow anyway. Maybe we'll do it together another time."
"Sounds great. Goodnight."
"Night, Yug. Nigh, Yami."
Seto slipped down below the waves and headed for the Sea King's palace. The meeting he hoped for would happen tomorrow.
'I believe I am beginning to see why Yami is interested in humans because I am starting to feel the same way. And it's because of that blonde. The resemblance is uncanny.' Seto shivered at the thought as his mind went back in time.
Six Years Ago
"Catch me if you can Seto," a blonde merboy called back as he raced among the coral. His brown eyes sparkled with merriment as his pale yellow tail propelled him through the warm South Atlantic waters.
Seto eagerly chased his friend. He had gotten away from his lessons and met up with Joey earlier that afternoon. The two of them frolicked and played together, exploring their home while making sure they didn't stray far. However, once their game of tag started, they paid no heed to their surroundings.
Finally, Seto tagged Joey's fins and the two merboys collapsed on the bottom, winded but happy. As Seto's sapphire eyes took in his environment, he sat up with a start.
"What's up, Seto?"
"We've wondered too far!"
"Oh no! My mom's gonna kill me."
"Not if we don't tell them. Let's get going."
Before the pair could begin their trek back, a shark came into view. And it spotted them! Terrified, the merboys began to swim as fast as their fins could go. Seto prayed that they could outswim or outfox the shark and get away. A scream caught the brunette's attention. He looked back and cried, "Joey!"
The shark had caught up to the blonde and had the merboy's fins in his mouth. Seto swam back, grabbed Joey's wrists, and started to pull.
"Seto, it's too late. Get away."
"No, I'm not leaving you. You're my friend. I won't let you die."
The shark's razor-sharp teeth engulfed half of Joey's tail. The blonde gave an ear-piercing scream before saying, "Leave me, Seto! I don't want you to die because of me." Yanking his wrists free, he pushed the white-tailed boy back. "Go!"
Seto looked into Joey's pleading eyes. What he saw there made him realize what Joey had known when he got caught. His friend was as good as dead. There was nothing he could do to help.
Shoulders sagging, Seto stared as his friend with teary eyes. "Goodbye Joey," he whispered before swimming off. He kept glancing back as he swam, but he stopped before Joey's upper half vanished into the shark's maw.
"Seto, what took you so long? Where's Yami?"
Gozaburo's demanding voice jolted Seto out of his thoughts. "What?"
"You heard me. What took you so long and where's Yami?"
Seto's fabricated story came rushing back to him and he hung his head. "I...tried to save him. He got caught in an undertow. Before I could pull him up out of it, his struggling pulled him free, but his increased speed put him in the path of a grove of jagged rocks. His body was...completely...destroyed." Seto buried his face in his hands, giving him an apparently distraught face. He even squeezed out a few tears.
Gozaburo patted his son's shoulder sympathically. "I'm sorry that you lost your mate, but cheer up! A rumor's been going around that Princess Mai might be breaking off her engagement to Duke. This could be your chance. Many merfolk would leap at the chance to be your beloved."
"Ah, but you're still mourning. I'll leave you then and I'll tell the king about the unfortunate news." Turning on his orange tail, the elder Kaiba left.
Seto could care less about Mai and Yami. All he cared about was the Joey lookalike. Was it possible that Joey had been resurrected as a human? Maybe. And what a handsome human! Tomorrow promised to be an exciting day.
Chapter Two- Conversation
Early the next morning, Seto slipped out of the palace and headed for the meeting spot. Along the way, he thought back to his encounter with Mai last night:
"I've heard that you might be breaking up with Duke."
"It's nasty rumor. I assure you Duke and I will be getting married as planned."
"I wish you luck then. Good night."
Mai still had Duke, disappointing Gozaburo to no end. Seto, on the other hand, was elated. He had another someone on his mind.
Breaking surface, he hid behind a rock and watched for a sign of his human. The sun rose higher and higher and still no sign. Where was he? Maybe, he had the day wrong or maybe the blond decided to swim another day.
A gold flash caught his attention. Looking at the beach, the object of his mission was there, running across the sand, discarding his shirt, and hitting the water. Seto stayed put and watched the blond swim about for awhile. He swam so well, Seto was sure he had been a merman before. He had the grace of a dolphin and the beads of water that rolled off his body made him look all the more handsome.
Diving underwater, the young merman considered his options. What was the best way to approach the blond? He could swim on the surface backwards and bump into him. A classic situation, but it never failed to work.
A tug on his fins jolted him out of his planning. Looking back, he saw the grinning face of the blond. Startled, Seto headed up and broke surface. The human followed soon after. Panic seized Seto. He hadn't planned on revealing his tail in the first meeting, but the point was now moot. He had been caught.
Jou couldn't believe his luck. Last night, Yami revealed to him that he was a merman prince until a wish on his puzzle made by Yugi changed that. Jou sensed that merfolk existence was supposed to be a secret and that Yami trusted him to keep it. And keep it he would for he'd never break a promise to a friend. Since then, however, Jou hoped that he too would meet a merperson. He had even dreamed of meeting a gorgeous blond mermaid with a shimmering green tail.
That dream dissolved when he spotted a brown-haired boy peering at him from behind a nearby rock. Jou couldn't believe the handsomeness of his face. He nearly drowned out of shock. He wondered why this boy was watching him, so he kept a close eye on him, unbeknownst to the brunette.
When the brunette dived underwater, Jou caught sight of a white tail surfacing before it vanished beneath the waves. Jou gasped. It was a merboy that had been watching him!
'Is he still here? I want to meet him.' Diving down, Jou, to his relief, saw the boy below him. His back was to him and he appeared to be in deep thought. Jou grinned. The merboy stayed. Here was his chance. Acting quickly, he reached down and tugged on the billowing fins. The merboy looked back and a startled look came to his face before heading up. Jou followed suite. On the surface, the blond took a moment to regain his breath before saying, "Hi, the name's Jou. Nice to meet ya."
The merboy appeared stunned for a moment before answering, "I'm Seto. Nice to meet you as well."
"So, any reason for watching me?"
"You looked like a friend of mine that died when I was a child. I thought that he might have survived and that you were him. Apparently, I was wrong."
"I see. Well, I'm glad you were watching me. As you can guess, I spotted you earlier. Yami told me that he used to be a merman and I hoped to meet one of your kind."
"Yup. And it looks like I got my wish."
Seto was still shell-shocked by this turn of events. While he imagined having a similar conversation, he still experienced some disappointment. For one, the name. It was Jou, not Joey. Two, the subject of merpeople was brought up. He didn't plan to mention it until Jou got suspicious of ocean-only meetings.
"So, Seto, um can you become human, too?"
The question surprised him. Nevertheless, he said, "No. I can't. Yami told you it was his puzzle that changed him, correct?"
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, he did."
"Did he mention that he was engaged before he knew Yugi?"
"No, he didn't. Why do you ask?"
"Just wondering." So, Yami didn't tell everything about his ocean life. Makes sense. He no longer wanted to have anything to do with the life he had led under the waves, despite the bond he had with the sea via his emotions. Seto, on the other hand, immensely loved his life in the sea, yet he found himself curious about life on land. Perhaps Jou could tell him about his life on land and he could form an opinion from that.
"Jou, perhaps you can tell me how you humans live. I would very much like to hear that." Seto's voice contained a note of interest.
"I don't think it's very different from your life."
"Just tell me. Please."
"Well, in my town, we have a royal family that rules over us to make sure that we feel safe. There's a market, where we buy various things, like food. That's social life. Private life varies. Mine's not so good."
"Is it really?"
Jou nodded. "My parents are in the process of splitting up and it looks like my little sister and I are going to be living apart from each other."
"That's too bad. Where will you be living?" Seto prayed Jou would be staying in his village.
To his relief, Jou says, "Here with my dad, who doesn't give a care about what happens to me."
"So, if you were to become one of my kind, he wouldn't notice you were gone?" The moment those words were out, made Seto realize that he was falling for the blond. He was falling for a human.
Jou shrugged. "Probably. I'm lucky I've got Yugi and Honda as friends. They've helped me through a lot."
"You were right. Your life's not too different from mine. There's also a royal family and a market. However, I'm an only child and I live with my father. And he's been pushing for me to find a mate and marry by the time I'm sixteen."
"Anyone you want to marry?" Secretly, Jou hoped it was him.
'You,' Seto thought, but he simply shook his head, slightly disappointing the blond.
"That's rough. I wish I could help you."
"I'll manage. I've got to go. It was nice meeting you, Jou."
"Likewise, Seto. See ya later."
Nodding, Seto slipped down and headed for the palace, where he would stay for hours in his room, savoring their first conversation and wondering when the next one would be.
Chapter Three- Shadow Magic
Jou swam to the shore, grabbed his clothes, and hastily threw them on before heading for the palace. He needed to talk to Yami. He had a brilliant idea. Deep down, he knew Seto was falling for him and he wanted to make that love possible. Hopefully, Yami knew how to make it happen.
He knocked on the palace doors and was greeted by a servant who led him to the princes' room, where he left Jou alone. He knocked twice, paused, then knocked a third time- Yugi's and his special signal. He opened the door and blinked when he saw the dark void of the Shadow Realm before him.
"I guess Yug wasn't kidding when he said he was going to teach Yami how to play a Shadow Game."
Knowing both boys were in the Realm, Jou entered the portal. Various sounds came from all around him. The voices of the Shadow Monsters. To a novice it would be scary, all alone hearing those voices. But, Jou was an experienced Shadow Duelist. Summoning his growing power, he called his favorite monster, Flame Swordsman to his side before continuing on.
"All right. Now, try to bring back a monster that was destroyed earlier."
"Right. Even the ones I summoned."
Those were Yugi's and Yami's voices. Rushing forward, Jou saw the two teens in the midst of a tutoring duel.
Yami, his brow furrowed in concentration, had Earth-based Big Shield Gardna in defense mode before him. Yugi stood across from him with Dark-based Dark Magician Girl in attack mode in front of him.
"I choose the spell Monster Reborn. Return to the field...Dark Magician!"
'Whoa! Yug's favorite monster!'
"Good call, Yami. My Dark Magician Girl loses the three hundred point boost she had."
"Yes, I remembered that. Go, Dark Magician, attack Dark Magician Girl." There was a blast of dark magic and the girl magician was no more.
"Okay! That's enough for today. You've learned one more spell to add to your list."
Big Shield Gardna vanished, but Dark Magician remained as the two turned and saw Jou there.
"Hey, Jou. How did your swim go?" Yugi inquired.
"It was interesting. Actually, I need to talk with you, Yami."
"What is it?"
"Is there a way for a human to become a merperson while only in the ocean?"
"I'm afraid not. Why do you ask?"
"I met a merman about my age and-"
"You fell in love with him."
"Who is he?"
"Seto!? As in Seto Kaiba?"
"I don't know if his last name is Kaiba. He has blue eyes, brown hair, and a beautiful white tail."
"That's the same one. Why would you fall for someone like him? He only cares about power."
"He seemed more interested in my life."
"Hmm. It is possible that he's changing."
"You really care for him, huh Jou?" Yugi asked.
"I think I know how to make it happen."
"Wait. We're not talking about another item set like the puzzles, are we?"
"Nope. Shadow Magic. Dark Magician, is there a monster that can do what Jou asked earlier?"
"Only one. The Cure Mermaid," the magician answered.
Nodding, Yugi called, "Cure Mermaid, appear!"
A blond girl with a red tail appeared on Yugi's left and bowed to the prince. "How may I be of service, your highness?"
"My friend, Jou, wishes to be a merman, but only in the ocean."
"And if you can," Jou cut in. "Can you give my friend Seto the ability to be human when he touches dry land?"
The mermaid smiled. "Of course I can." She began to chant a spell in an ancient language Jou didn't understand. What he did see was the girl's right index finger emitting a light blue glow. She moved the finger forward and tapped Jou's own right index finger with it.
"The spell I chanted was for your changes. The light is for Seto's. Simply touch his finger the way I did yours."
"Cool. But, how would I change back?"
"The same way you wished for Seto to change."
Jou was excited. He wanted to find Seto right away, but was unsure where in the ocean he lived. "Yami, do you know how I can find Seto?"
"I believe he's still staying at my father's palace. Stick to the shore and go south about four adult humpback whale lengths."
"Thanks," Jou sprinted out of the Shadow Realm, the Flame Swordsman heading back to where he was when Jou summoned him.
"Uh, Yami. Do you realize that Jou doesn't know how long a humpback whale is?"
Yami blushed. "Oops."
Both boys were silent for a time and then their eyes widened simultaneously at what Jou had wished for.
"Jou must be crazy to ask for such a thing," Yugi stated.
"And you weren't when you made your wish?" Yami teased.
"Sure I was. I was crazy about you."
"And I about you," Yami added as he and Yugi shared a brief kiss before leaving the Shadow Realm.
Chapter Four- The Proposal
Jou dashed to his house, grabbed a cloth bag, and stuffed some clothes into it. He reasoned that the spell would not provide clothes and he needed something to hold the clothes he was currently wearing.
Shouldering the bag, he sprinted out of the house before his dad realized he had even been there. From there, he headed for the shore and ran along it for a good hour or so until he was exhausted.
Panting, Jou looked at the water, wondering how close he was to the undersea palace. 'I don't know how long humpback whale is. Last time I get instructions from a former merman. I wish Seto was here right now.'
"Jou! What are you doing here?" a familiar voice exclaimed. Jou blinked as the blue-eyed merman came up into the shallow water. 'That was fast,' Jou thought before answering.
"Looking for you. Yami said you were staying in his father's palace."
"He's right. And you're not too far away now. I wish you could see it."
"I've got some surprises for you. Just watch." Setting the bag down, Jou stripped down to nothing, shocking and confusing Seto. What was he doing? He watched as Jou shoved his clothes into the bag he brought and stashed it in a hollow hole under a rock.
Taking a deep breath, Jou prayed the spell would work as he took his first steps into the cool ocean water. At first nothing happened, and Jou was ready to lash out at The Cure Mermaid on his next trip to the Shadow Realm when Jou suddenly fell forward into the water. Spitting out the water, Jou looked behind him and saw that his slim white legs were gone and a sparkling green tail was in their place. It worked! He was a merman.
Looking at Seto, Jou noticed that the brunette was staring at him, mouth agape.
"H-how did you do that?"
"A Shadow Monster used her Shadow Magic so that I can become a merman when I'm in the ocean."
"Yeah. There's this place where Yugi and I play games with real monsters and magic. It's called the Shadow Realm, so naturally the magic possessed by these monsters is called Shadow Magic."
"You gave up your humanity for me?"
"No, I didn't. As soon as I touch dry land, I'll become human again. Which reminds me, hold out your right hand."
Confused, Seto obliged, wondering what Jou was up to. He watched as Jou extended his right index finger on his hand, a blue light emitting from it. The light spread from Jou to Seto and was extinguished when their fingers separated.
"What was that?" Seto demanded.
"Now, you can be human when you touch land."
"And revert when I return to the sea?"
"Well, then. In that case, come. Let me show you that palace."
"As soon as you show me how this tail works."
Seto smirked. "Gladly." Without warning, he grabbed Jou's hand and dragged him into the deep water and pushed him under before joining him.
"What was that for?" the green-tailed boy demanded once Seto was underwater and once he remembered that he didn't have to hold his breath.
"Rule one of the ocean: Sink or Swim. You have to learn to swim on your own or you won't go very far."
Jou paid strict attention to how Seto's tail moved. Imitating these movements, he was rewarded with moving forward. Jou smiled. What a cool feeling! Getting into the swim of it, Jou performed barrel rolls and somersaults before stopping in front of Seto.
"Lead the way Seto," he requested.
As the brunette took the lead, Jou took the time to examine his surroundings. He was amazed at the ocean life that he usually sees from a boat on the surface and at the ones he had only heard of but had never seen. And he was doing what most men could only dream of. He was swimming on the bottom of the ocean and he didn't have to hold his breath.
"We're here," Seto's voice interrupted his thoughts. Looking forward, the blond gasped. The castle glittered on the horizon, displaying gold and pale green with tall spires and elegant turrets.
"It's beautiful. This is where Yami used to live?"
"He did. Oh, and don't mention Yami. I told my father that he died and he told Yami's family. Chances are the royal family won't be in the mood to talk."
"Why didn't you tell the truth?"
"Merpeople are not supposed to have contact with humans, let alone fall in love with one. It threatens our peace and safety. As for loving one, the punishment is death."
"Yami was lucky then."
"Oh, yes. Extremely lucky. Just like I am now."
Seto led Jou to the palace courtyard where he surmised his father was at. He hadn't seen his father all day, despite the fact that he had been in his room until twenty minutes ago.
Seto had been correct in his assumption when he saw Gozaburo looking at the brightly colored sea garden. He glanced up when he saw his son appear.
"Seto, there you are. I was told by one of our maids that you left the palace early this morning."
"Yes, father. I went out for an early morning swim and I also made a new friend. This is Jou. Jou, this is my father, Gozaburo Kaiba."
Jou moved forward, unsure how merpeople greet one another. Uncertainty turned to relief when Gozaburo held out a hand. Jou took it and received a warm, albeit, unfriendly shake.
"Pleasure," the merman said gruffly. Releasing Jou's hand, he quickly circled him and added, "A bit scrawny, aren't you?"
Jou didn't know what to say to that. He never considered himself skinny, nor did anyone else he knew. He glanced down briefly. Did his new tail make him look skinny?
Seto moved in front of Jou, feeling a sense of deja vu from last night coming on. "Father, how can you say that? He's not at all scrawny." He threw Jou a tender look over his shoulder before turning to look at Gozaburo again.
"Why, son. Would you be considering marrying this boy?"
Jou looked at Seto in surprise while the other boy continued to stare at my father. Did Seto love him? He recalled Yami's image of this merboy and compared it to the boy in front of him. There was no doubt: Seto had changed and he was the cause.
"Well, I don't approve. From the looks of him, he doesn't look like he has anything wealthy or any power to offer. That is why you must marry: Wealth or power."
"What about love?"
"Love won't leave you well off in life. Itís not important."
"It's important to me! Come on, Jou. We're leaving."
"Come back here, Seto Kaiba! Come back here!"
Seto ignored his father's call and grabbed Jou's hand so he wouldn't lose him in his wake. An electric jolt shot through the brunette's hand from Jou's touch. His failsafe method! It had just let him know that Jou was the one he was to marry. The jolt was even more shocking than the one he received from Yami.
"Uh, Seto? Where are we going?" Jou's voice cut into Seto's thoughts.
"There's a cave up ahead that I discovered a few days ago. No one, but me, knows about it. That's where we're going to talk."
Jou followed the merboy to a rock blocking a cave entrance, almost completely concealing it from view. Seto tugged on the rock to open it enough for them to slip through before it closed again. Jou gasped at the beautiful coral and flowers that were in the cave.
"I've never seen coral or flowers like these before," Jou exclaimed as he moved to examine the flowers more closely. The petals seemed to shimmer blue, green, and purple at the same time, giving it a colorful contrast to the naturally brown stem.
"Nor will you. I can't explain it, but they only grow in this cave and nowhere else." Seto sat on a flat rock in the center and gestured for Jou to join him.
"So, what are we going to talk about?"
"Well, first of all, I want to apologize for my father's behavior."
"Were you like that?"
"I'm afraid so. Royal power was the reason I wanted to marry Yami. But when I saw you, my perception changed. I now see that love is also a reason to marry."
"We could get married."
"My father won't allow it."
"Forget about him. Yugi's dad will do it."
"Of course. He is the king and the king in my town performs all the wedding ceremonies. I think it's time for you to truly see my world."
Seto smiled. See the humans' world? Sounded good to him. He could picture the look on Yami's face when he showed up as a human. Maybe he would stay long enough to see how a human's wedding is done.
"Tell me, Jou. When do the princes plan to marry?"
"The end of the week. Why?"
"I may stay on land long enough to see how your weddings are done. It may convince me to have a wedding on land as well."
"Are you proposing?"
"Are you asking me to marry you? 'Cause if you are, then I accept."
Seto fumbled with his words. He did want to marry Jou, but what could he use for an engagement token? He sighed as he absentmindedly ran his fingers across his hairline. His running fingers bumped against something smooth and metal. His eyes widened. He had forgotten about the silver hairpin that he used to keep his bangs out of his way.
Glancing at the ground and rocky walls, all he saw were the coral and beautiful flowers that grew there. Inspiration struck as he plucked a flower from their rocky perch. Removing the pin, he wrapped the stem around the pin's apex until it resembled the one like Yami's sans the pearl.
Turning to Jou, he said, "As proof of our engagement, I present this flower hairpin." With this pronouncement, he placed it above Jou's right ear.
Jou stared at his boyfriend in speechless silence. Seto's hair fell differently with the pin gone and brown bangs fell above his eyes, much like his own. He was touched by Seto's gesture. He couldn't have picked a more perfect flower for the hairpin.
Jou kissed Seto's cheek. "Thank you."
"My pleasure. Now, let's get to the surface and trade our tails for legs."
"Sure. My turn to teach you how to walk."
Chapter Five- Human
Gozaburo scanned the ocean, looking for his disobedient son. Seto had the nerve to choose some nobody for his mate. And for love of all reasons! He was going to find Seto and talk some sense into him.
Suddenly, he spotted him as well as that green-tailed boy he seemed so fond of. He watched the two of them swim off hand-in-hand for a minute before following them. If he could discover something wrong with that scrawny merboy, he could use it as a club against Seto.
He followed them a good distance when the couple swam up. The elder merman followed until the teens broke the surface! Gozaburo froze. His son had just violated merfolk law and went to the surface. That merboy, Jou, was a bad influence. Gozaburo had a good spot to watch the next shocking surprise of the day.
"Are you sure this will work?" Seto inquired.
"Hey, I became a merman, right? Look, you go first and if there's a problem, I'll pull you back."
Seto nodded as he pulled himself out of the ocean and towards the warm, dry sand. Like Jou's transformation, nothing happened at first, but then a swirl of pink magic surrounded his tail. Seto stared in amazement as his tail unraveled to reveal two legs that were the same shade as his skin. He was human now.
"All right, Jou. It worked. Now get over here and teach me to walk."
"Okay. Here I come."
But instead of crawling out, Jou dived deep, then came leaping high out of the water and was heading for the deceptively soft ground.
"Jou!" Seto cried. Without realizing it, Seto lurched to his feet and sprinted toward Jou's landing and caught the merboy, who was laughing hysterically, in his arms.
"What in the Seven Seas were you thinking?" Seto scolded. "You could have been killed!"
"Hey, I taught you stand and run. See?" He pointed at Seto's legs.
Seto looked down and saw that he was, indeed, standing. He replayed the last few seconds and realized that Jou was right. He had been running. And what a feeling it was! Feeling the wind cut around his body, run through his hair, and feeling the sand under his feet as he moved. If that was what running was like, then...
Jou's tail suddenly began to thrash about and brought Seto back to reality. Jou was still a merman and his tail was getting dehydrated! Quickly, he put Jou on the sand and the tail split into two legs.
Jou took a deep breath and sighed. "That's better." Standing up, Jou retrieved his stashed bag. He pulled out his clothes and tossed the bag to his mate.
"Put those clothes and shoes on. Then, I'll take you to meet Yugi."
Seto didn't bother to say that he already knew Yugi. He watched Jou put on his clothes first and followed his example. When he was finished, the two boys began their trek to Jou's town.
Gozaburo floated in shock at the scene that had just played before him. His son had crawled onto land and his tail had turned into legs. Human sorcerery, no doubt. Jou's changed to a human confirmed it. Jou was no merboy: He was a human. His son had fallen for a human!
'When Seto returns to the sea, the spell will be broken and I will make sure that he never goes near that human again or he will have to die.'
"Why didn't the sea break the spell you placed on me earlier? The sea has the power to reverse human magic placed on any ocean being."
"Because it was Shadow Magic. It's quite different from the magic that made Yami human. The spell will never be broken." Jou paused before adding, "That's okay, right?"
"Of course. As long as we're together, that's fine."
Jou nodded slightly as they lapsed into silence. He afforded a sideways glance at Seto and congratulated himself on the outfit he had chosen for Seto. A pair of black pants with a short-sleeved black shirt under a navy blue windbreaker. It was a bit somber compared to his blue jeans, white shirt, and green jacket, but it looked good on him.
The feel of the cloth rubbing on his skin was a new sensation to Seto, yet it felt comforting and soft to the touch. He wasn't sure why humans wore clothes. Maybe it was so they could attract a possible mate. He would have to ask Jou about that some time during his stay on land.
As they passed through the kingdom's gate, Seto gazed in amazement at the bustling activity. So many humans! And he was among them! His eyes took in everything as he was led through the marketplace and up to the golden white palace that presided over the town.
A guard at the door nodded politely to Jou and allowed them to pass. After asking a passing maid about the princes' whereabouts, Jou headed for the throne room where a white-robed man stood outside the door.
"Shadi, can you tell Yugi and Yami that my friend and I wish to see them?"
"One moment," the man replied. He disappeared into the room and came back a few minutes later.
"They will meet you in the courtyard shortly."
As the pair entered the courtyard, Seto said, "Everyone here seems to know you, Jou."
"Yeah. I hang out with Yugi almost all the time. I'm practically like another son to the king.Ē
"You sure are!" a cheery voice replied from behind.
"Hey, Yug. How's the wedding plans?"
"Pretty good. We might be married two or three days early."
"Uh, Jou? Who are you hiding?" Yami asked, even though he pretty much already knew who it was.
"Oh, yeah. Meet my friend and soon-to-be husband." Jou stepped aside to reveal the brunette. Seto was disappointed to see that Yami seemed indifferent of seeing him as human, but he hid it.
"Seto." Yami nodded.
"Well, Yami, it appears we're more alike than we thought."
"Yes, so it seems." A shimmer to the left of Seto drew Yami's attention and he inclined his head towards it. "Where did you find that flower in Jou's hair?"
"In a cave that's known to only Jou and me. Rare coral and flowers grow only in that cave."
"When will you marry?"
"When I'm sixteen as originally planned and possibly here."
"By the king."
"What does your father have to say about your engagement?"
"He doesn't approve. But I don't care. I love Jou and we're going to be married."
"Good for you. Your attitude towards marriage has changed." Yami was amazed at how fast Seto's values had changed.
"Yeah," Jou jumped in. "And once we are wedded, Mr. Kaiba can't do anything about it."
Chapter Six- Complications
Three Days Later
"As this kingdom's ruler, I declare this union binding."
A cheer went up from the crowd as the king finished his declaration. Yugi beamed at Yami as he moved the hairpin to the left and the two princes sealed their vows with a kiss.
The wedding was an amazing experience to the business merman. An ocean wedding is not as elaborate. It's simply the two mates, their families, and the king. Here, it appeared, the entire kingdom was involved.
Seto was further struck by the fact that no one thought it strange that Yugi fell for a boy. It might be the fact that Yugi was a prince.
Seto had been human for four days on that wedding day. He found that only the ocean could trigger the change when Jou suggested he experience a bath. He enjoyed it immensely. The bubbles provided a curiosity to the merboy and he explored them deeply before he was forced to get out of the tub. Yugi's palace was quite plush and Seto considered himself fortunate that Yugi's parents allowed him and Jou to stay for awhile even though Jou had a home.
"Earth to Seto. Anyone there?"
Seto blinked and his eyes focused on Jou's concerned face. "I'm sorry, Jou. What were you saying?"
"I was saying that if you're ready, we can get started with our first actual Shadow Game."
The recollection of Yugi's and Yami's wedding faded away and brought Seto to the present. Two days ago, Jou gave Seto lessons on how to play a Shadow Game. They even watched Yugi and Yami play a game that ended in a stalemate. Yet, it had been a very exciting game.
"Let's do it, Jou."
Jou grinned as he recited the spell that opened a portal to the playing field. As they walked through, Jou felt a surge of anticipation go through him. He was about to play a Shadow Game against someone who might present a challenge before Jou won. Ryou and Honda played so simple, it was a snore playing against them. Yugi always beat him, but at least he was challenging. Hopefully, Seto could provide a decent challenge for him to really play before eventually defeating him.
About an hour later, the game was red-hot and intense. Both boys would take shots at one another along with magic and trap spells. But now, Jou had two monsters while Seto had one. Both were down to their last lifepoints.
"All right, Seto. This is where it ends. I offer up Alligator's Sword and Tiny Guardian to bring forth the powerful Red-Eyes Black Dragon!"
Seto gaped in amazement at the huge dragon that appeared in place of Jou's monsters. Its' wings were spread wide and its' eyes gleamed a menacing red as it screeched its' battle cry.
"Red-Eyes, attack Seto's monster and the rest of his lifepoints!"
The dragon complied, delivering a devastating final attack of the game. Seto's monster was reduced to ashes and his lifepoints hit zero.
"I win!" Jou exclaimed.
"You're good, Jou."
"Thanks. You were good yourself. A lot better than Ryou and Honda. You really gave me a fight."
"That good, huh?"
"We may be able to take Yugi and Yami on if we tag team."
"When I learn how that works, we probably will."
As the couple exited the Shadow Realm, they ran into the married princes.
"Hi, Jou! Hi, Seto!" Yugi exclaimed cheerily. "How did the game go?"
"Great. Seto put up a good fight, but I won."
"Good. Maybe Yami and I can take you on in a tag team one day."
"Exactly what I was thinking."
"Before we forget," Yami cut in. "The king has agreed to wed you and Jou."
"All right! When?"
"Two days after our honeymoon."
"I'll be sixteen by then," Seto added.
"Jou, would you mind if I return home for a little while?"
"Not at all. Just hurry back."
"I will." Sharing a brief kiss with Jou, the brunette left the room and headed for the beach.
Seto set the bag on the sand and took in a deep breath of the salty ocean breeze. It would feel a little weird to be a merman again after being human for four days. But the joy of his impending marriage was so great that the only way he could express it was by swimming.
Stuffing his clothes in the bag he brought and stowing it, he ran for the water and leaped into the deeper part of the shallow water. The contact with the ocean instantly transformed his legs back into his foam-white tail. He immediately began to flex those muscles and re-orient himself with his home before he began to swim. He performed barrel rolls, loop-de-loops, twirls, corkscrews, and anything else he could think of until his joy was sufficiently satisfied. His marriage brought on thoughts of Princess Mai's and decided to stop at the palace to wish her well.
As he approached the castle, Malik came out and headed for him, a grim look on his face. "Seto, your father wants to see you. He says it's urgent."
Anxiety gripped at the merman as he headed for the guest room assigned to his father. Was this about his behavior a few days ago? Or was it about Jou? Anxiety turned to firm determination at the thought of Jou. Seto loved him and intended to wed him as planned. It was all arranged.
He knocked on the door and he received an "Enter" from the other side. Opening the door, he found his father seated in one of the two chairs in the room.
"You wished to see me, Father?"
"Yes. First of all, where have you been the last few days?" Gozaburo, of course, knew exactly where his son had been: on land. But, he didn't want Seto to know that just yet.
"I was exploring this part of the ocean. It's somewhat different from where we live."
Gozaburo inwardly smirked. His son was a convincing liar, he'll give him that. "I also want to talk about that boy. What was his name? Jou?"
"I still say he's not right for you. And it would seem that I was right."
"What are you talking about?"
"He's really a human. I saw it. He placed some kind of spell on you. I saw you crawl onto land and become human."
"Then why did you ask where I had been if you already knew?"
"To see how you'd respond. I'm telling you that if you don't stay away from him, I'll have the king banish you from the sea."
"He can't do that. Can he?"
"You'll find out if you keep seeing him."
"I won't stop seeing him. We're already engaged and we will marry when I'm sixteen."
"You're engaged!? I won't stand for it!"
"You can't stop us."
"I won't have to. You already have by coming back to the sea. You won't be able to become human again!" Gozaburo laughed in triumph.
Seto smiled thinly, cutting his father's laugh off. "That's what you think. The land is still accessible to me. The spell on me isn't human magic. I'm leaving now so I can prepare for my wedding." Seto turned to leave.
"Hold it right there!" Gozaburo declared, grabbing his son's fins.
"What are you doing?" Seto demanded.
Gozaburo looked at him with pitying eyes. "You've fallen for a human and such an act is punishable by death. I'm sorry." Getting a firmer grip by grabbing Seto's arm, the elder man dragged the boy to the throne room and simply swam inside.
"Gozaburo, what brings you here?"
"Your majesty, my son has fallen in love with a human."
"You know what this means."
"Yes. Death by drowning."
Seto was confused. Drowning? How could he possibly drown? "I can't drown," he stated.
"Yes, you can," the king said. "Once I've commanded the sea to turn your tail to legs. Your father will hold you to insure that you die."
Seto paled. "Oh, boy," he muttered.
Jou paced back and forth in the courtyard with Yugi and Yami watching.
"Jou, you're going to wear a rut in the ground if you don't stop," Yugi commented.
"I can't help it. I'm getting worried. He should have been back by now. He's in trouble, I know it!"
"What kind of trouble?"
"I don't...Wait, his father!" Jou looked at Yami. "Isn't it forbidden to love a human?"
The boy nodded solemnly. "If Gozaburo looks to my father for punishment, he'll very likely sentence Seto to death by drowning."
"He can have the sea turn Seto human while on the ocean bottom."
"I gotta go make sure he's okay!" Jou took off in a dead run toward the beach. He ran until he spotted the hollowed rock hole with a bag strap peeking out. In a flash, Jou discarded his clothes in that bag and jumped into the water, instantly changing to his merman form. He took a second to adjust before heading for the palace as fast as he could.
'Hang on, Seto. I'm coming.'
Chapter Seven- Two Worlds
Seto couldn't believe this was happening. He had been caught falling for a human and now he was going to die for his choice.
His father held him around the chest and had his tail wrapped around his son's, preventing a possible escape. The king floated before him, arms out to the sides.
"Mighty ocean, hear my call. One of your children dares to love a land walker. He has forsaken you and thus deserves to die. Split his tail into legs and drown him to death."
No sooner had he finished saying this, then Seto saw the blue swirl of the ocean's power swirl up his tail. It went halfway up when it met a pink swirl: The Shadow Magic. The two powers duked it out and then, it seemed like the two combined as it took on the Ocean's blue color before changing his tail to legs. Seto desperately took in oxygen before his gills disappeared. He knew he couldn't hold his breath forever, but hopefully an escape would present itself shortly.
He got his chance when he felt his father's scaled tail slide off his smooth legs. Reacting fast, he moved one leg back and kicked the tail behind him. The motion caused Gozaburo to release his hold, but Seto soon realized that he couldn't swim without his tail. Jou never showed him how.
'I'm really going to die. Jou, I'm sorry, my love.'
"Seto!" a familiar voice cried. Seto looked up and saw his boyfriend swimming frantically towards him.
"Hang on! I'll get you to the surface quickly."
Jou's appearance shocked the king greatly. He didn't even bother to stop Jou as he swam out of the palace with his mate. Turning to Gozaburo, he said, "What is the meaning of this?"
"You said your son was in love with a human. That boy that just left was not a human."
"He is a human. A human who can use magic to become one of us. He even cast a spell on my son to turn him human on land."
"I will not hear such nonsense. Get out of my sight at once!"
Gozaburo left, fuming. He failed to separate Jou and Seto and now the king called him a liar. If word of this got out, his company's rep could be ruined.
Seto gasped as his head broke the surface. He took in several deep breaths as Jou pulled him towards the beach. As soon as they hit the shallow water, Seto pushed himself to standing and moved to the dry sand.
Jou, still in the water, looked sadly at Seto. "I'm sorry the king turned you human. I guess I'll have to teach you how humans swim."
"Maybe not," Seto replied. "I think the Shadow Magic reacted in an effort to protect itself and it made me human."
"The sea's power met the Shadow Magic halfway up my tail. My theory is that the sea lost in the power struggle, but the Shadow Magic made it seem that the sea had won the fight. Let's see..."
Seto walked into the water and waited that short time before his legs vanished and were replaced with a tail.
"You can still change! That's great!" Jou cheered.
Seto smiled as the two of them crawled out to land and became human. He had cheated death with Jou's help and still retained his merman form. Their lives would be interesting ones, but at least they would have each other.
Two Days Later
"I declare this union binding and legal."
Cheers and clapping were heard from Jou's friends as the two boys sealed their vows (and Seto moved Jou's flower to the left). Their wedding wasn't very big. Just the royal family, Honda, and Ryou. The intimate crowd was a relief to Seto. He never did like the idea of being married before the entire kingdom. Apparently, neither did Jou and he agreed to a small wedding.
"Are you ready, yet?"
"One second, Seto." Jou threw open his bedroom door, a bag slung over his shoulder. He flashed a grin. "What's the rush?"
"Your father makes me nervous."
"I told you. He doesn't care about me. That includes who I hang out with or who I fall in love with."
"So you've said."
"I think you just want to get our honeymoon started."
"You've caught me red-handed."
Jou grinned again as the couple strolled out the door and toward the ocean where their love had first begun.