by Chris J

Request: Lance/Nick. An AU with someone as a selkie or a merman or some kind of sea-creature.

Lance hated the ocean, hated the cursed turn of events that had abandoned him there, virtually penniless. He'd been prosperous once, until his partner -- in business, in everything -- had taken their life's work and disappeared back inland, leaving him behind.

He hated the ocean and he hated the people who lived there, grizzled boat-dwelling men and gossiping hags and their little brats who never missed a chance to get underfoot. One week they talked about him and his pitiful excuse for a hovel. The next it was the French widow's slowly rounding belly, many months after her husband passed on. After that, perhaps the stranger who'd been seen up and down the shore these past months since Lance had come to reside at the seaside.

The stranger was at least interesting to hear about, when Lance had scraped together enough coin to sit by the fire at the tavern and listen to the gossip. Gossip and folktales, more and more as the night passed its middle and tongues loosened. Like how the stranger had been the one to drop seed in the French widow, for one.

Or how the stranger wasn't a human at all, how he'd come from the sea, shed his skin and taken human form. Lance scoffed at many things, but he never scoffed at that, not after seeing the things he'd seen. Not after dealing in powdered unicorn horn and dragon teeth and other such things for as long as he could remember. He knew what was real and what was not, and how much truth there was to legend.

He hated the ocean but he did spend a lot of time watching it, watching the waves roar in and move out again, from the clifftop near where he'd made his home. The very same spot where he and his partner had set up shop, before Lance had been left behind.

He could watch much of the shoreline from where he sat, and so he'd seen the man they spoke of, the man they called only Nikolas for lack of knowledge of his parentage. Or an acknowledgement that he had none on land to speak of.

Lance watched him sometimes and though about how he belonged-didn't-belong. Of the sea but not marked by the sea, like everyone else here had been. He was tall and strong and Lance was not surprised to hear of his dalliances with the French widow, or with the tailor's wife, or with the blacksmith's son. But Lance had never met him like that, only watched him when he walked the shore below the cliff and looked longingly out at the water, in a way Lance never had.

Maybe the next time Lance saw him, he would approach. Maybe the next time he would approach and introduce himself and sit on the stretch of rough sand with him and hear about his life. And maybe he would share his own life with Nikolas, his own longing to go in the other direction, back into the land, then into the mountains, back to his own home.

And maybe he could even convince Nikolas to come with him, to places far from the sea, but where Nikolas might still find something he wanted. Needed.

For Lance remembered the last time he'd seen his partner, before he'd stolen off into the night, never to return. And he'd been wearing a brand new sealskin cape.

For LJ Ficlet Request Meme, for . February 27, 2004

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