labcoatgirl: (come home with me)

[from here]

She had always been too curious for her own good. Always wanting to know more about the world around her. Exploring farther and farther from home. Betty's home was the ocean, endless forests of coral and fish and creatures....

But like all sea bound creatures, storms were a real danger. This one came up suddenly, the ocean fairly boiling with foam. The mermaid found herself unable to seek shelter in time, tossed by the huge waves this way and that, losing all sense of direction....

Morning broke softly the next day, faint rays of sunlight lighting on the slumped figure on the sand. The waves now gentle as they lapped in and out around her. She had been broken on the rocks near to shore and lay there, unconscious and bleeding from a gash to her forehead.

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Bruce had been out on the boat fishing with a crew that was wary of the stranger to the area, but willing to give him a chance since he seemed capable of holding his own. When the storm had whipped up, they'd thought it would break not only him, but the keel of the boat. They'd managed to limp it back to shore through the massive swells, but that left them without work the coming morning.

The beginnings of dawn found Bruce with a borrowed net slung over his shoulder as he worked his way along the sand, shoes tied together and flung over the other. He paused to take in the beauty of the place, a rare chance to appreciate the world around him but it wasn't to last. That gaze upward from his feet immediately landed upon a prone form tossed among the rocks that jutted out from the sands. He glanced around, there wasn't a soul about, nor wreckage to tell him where the figure had come from, but he instantly dropped his net and started running across the sand. No one here knew, but he was well-versed in medical practices and would leverage them every way he could as he kicked up sand behind him, heading toward Betty.

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At first, it seems like it's a person. Long dark hair streaked with bits of seaweed, a few red streaks on the sand near her head. But where the surf meets the sand, there are shimmering scales that disappear into the water. Where the end of her tail is hidden for the moment. As the tide goes out, it will eventually reveal itself.

She looks pale, almost dead. But she is still breathing when he reaches her.

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Bruce's feet splash in the receding tide as he comes right up next to her. He drops to his knees and he's too worried about that stain in the sand next to her head to realize that there's something amiss about the remaining half that's in the water. He's too afraid to move her at the moment as he checks her pulse, and is relieved to see that she's breathing.

He looks around, he doesn't have a first aid kit on him, but he pulls off his shirt and folds it up to hold it to her head. He has a white undershirt on at least, so his tanning skin won't get burned as the first rays of sun break over the horizon.

"Hey." He gives another glance around, this beach was secluded, the reason why he'd come to avoid any disagreements from local fishermen, but now it was making the task of finding her help more difficult. The best he can do right now it try to get her awake. "Hello?"

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Her head lolls in his hands. It's plain to see that the wound to her head must have been the one to knock her senseless, but the wound itself is superficial.

Her eyelids flicker slightly at his voice, slowly opening to reveal strikingly blue green eyes underneath. Even slower to focus on the blurry face above her. It was a nice voice though, a friendly one coaxing her awake.

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He still doesn't know how long that head wound has been bleeding, and he'll need to get her proper medical attention at some point. For now though seeing her eyes open was a welcome sight. More welcome than he thought possible, even. With her eyes open, and even though her hair is waterlogged and full of debris, she makes an angelic figure and he gives her a shy smile.

"Hi." He should be asking her questions, like what day of the week it was, or what her name was, but he's momentarily struck dumb by the sight before him.

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He had a nice face too, an honest face. She smiled...her mouth forming the word "Hi" in return. A wet cough steals her voice, she's not able to speak till the coughing subsides.

The glittering scales cover her body, catching the sun as the tide is going out further.

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He leans back to give her room, and just in case she does more than cough. If she has a stomach full of salt water, or even a lungful, it could easily be more.

It also gives him a chance to give the rest of her a look over and that's when he pauses. For a moment he wonders if it's a trick of the light, perhaps salt had crystallized on her while she'd been on the beach, but an awkward moment of staring and he starts to realize it's not salt. The scales sparkle beautifully, and his eyes wander as he blushes, down to the receding waters that lap where her legs should be, but aren't. He shakes himself out of his awe and wonder, he can address this later, but she's clearly in need of help, regardless of what she is. Once she finishes coughing he's back to holding the shirt over her forehead.

"I'm Bruce. What's your name?"

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"....Br-uce..." her voice manages, still looking up at him. This was the first human she had seen this close before. She winces when he presses the shirt against her head wound, feeling the world spin around her. Her eyes slip closed, "Bruce..." and she passes out again.

The sun is drying out her scales quickly, more so than usual. If left on her own on the beach, she wouldn't make it. But if someone else found her...who knows what they might do with her?

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"Yes, h-hi..." And then she's out again. He takes a breath, this is no time to panic, he has to stay very, very calm. Her scales are already looking poor, and with the sun rising, they're not going to get any better. He bites his lip, not quite certain what he should do, but then indecision is replaced by action. Quickly, he soaks his shirt in the ocean and drapes it over her tail. Any number of fishermen would do goodness-knew-what with a mermaid if they found her. Quickly he's picking her up in his arms, making certain that shirt stays over as much of her scales as possible as he carries her.

His borrowed net will either be washed out to sea, or he'll have to come back for it later, but right now the life in his arms is more important. The sand makes her added weight difficult to carry, but he's quickly heading into the shady mangrove and for the dumpy little shack he's been calling home since he arrived.

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She's quiet in his arms, cold yet warm at the same time. Her tail trailing off the side of his arm. It's a long tail, faintly white and green in the right light. The wet shirt helps keep her moist as she's carried away from the dry sand.

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The shade should provide her some protection, but now he's regretting that his shoes are still over his shoulder and not on his feet. The sand here is thick with roots and debris that poke at him uncomfortably. He tolerates it though, because he knows he has to get her somewhere relatively safe before anyone comes around.

It takes a while but eventually he reaches a point in the trees where the sight and sound of the ocean is all but gone, and there, in the middle of nowhere, starts a path of worn rocks jutting out from the swampy ground. It's a relieving sight for Bruce, and once his sole hits the rock, he's making up time as he heads for the shack.

When he'd first found it, it had been almost beyond the point of repair, but some work had shored the walls back up to serviceable, though the roof still needed a bit of work. The platform it was on made it almost like a tree house as it rested on the remains of a wide root structure from some tree that had met its fate, probably at the hands of the original occupant.

Porting in fresh water was difficult, but he had a feeling the rippling pools of salt water around the base of the trees would be more suited to his guest's needs. He didn't have a tub, but once inside he placed her on the floor gently and ran outside to get a bucket and some old, ratty towels. Water was brought in, and his stained shirt was replaced with sopping fabric that did a better job of keeping her drying scales moist than his threadbare clothing.

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She curled in on herself, shivering slightly till the soaked towels were placed on her. It seemed to help stabilize her condition.

When he next went out for more water, it was then that Betty came around fully. Her hand moved across the hard wood beneath her. A confused expression crossing her face. What was it? Where was she?

By the time he comes back, the spot he left her in is empty save for a wet spot on the floor. The mermaid struggling to slide across the floor towards the table that served as a makeshift laboratory. She was already smelling one of the beakers in her hands, looking up in surprise and shielded fear at his entrance.

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Bruce pauses when he opens the door, soaked up to his waist thanks to a spilled bucket on the way back, and the one in his hand now sloshes as he stands in the doorway. He very nearly drops it as he sets it down.

"Please! Don't touch that!" His demand, however one might call it a demand, is more begging and pleading in tone than anything as he trips over himself on his way to prevent her from further inspection.

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She shrinks back at his tone, the beaker of liquid hugged close to her. Her blue-green eyes watching him intently. It's plain that she's skittish of him coming closer.

Slowly, though, she holds out the beaker to him with both hands.

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He realizes he's frightened her and backs off, but when she holds out the beaker he approaches, just as wary as she might feel, and takes it. He handles it gently and puts it up on the table, sliding it out of reach before going back over to the wet towels and bringing them back over to her.

"I'm sorry, I don't want you to get hurt." He glances back up at her forehead. "Again."

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A look of confusion fills her eyes and she puts up her hand to her forehead...and comes away with blood. Now she's worried, she's hurt. And drying out too. It was hard to move on land.

Wait, what was he doing with those wet things?? Instead of holding still for him, she brings her tail around for a resounding SLAP, knocking him over.

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He should have expected something like that, and her tail is incredibly strong. He tries to take it with a roll, but that just bumps him into the far wall of the small little structure, setting the hanging pots and pans clattering for a moment.

"Ow." He stays where he is for a moment, his head covered in a dripping towel. A hand reaches up and rubs at the back of his head as he wills away the dull ache there, and mumbles under his breath. "No good deed unpunished."

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She really should just run for it (or slither as the case may be) but something stops her. She hurt him....and doesn't want to see him hurt. Before he can stop her, she's in front of him, holding one of the dripping towels carefully to the back of his head.

And suddenly very much in his space. Returning the favor he did for her on the beach.

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It's his turn to shy away from her attempt to help him, and he ducks from her touch, a hand quickly dabbing at the spot, to find only salt water on his hand. He tries to scoot back, but he butts up to the wall again, and very slowly reaches up to pull the towel off his shoulders and hold it out to her.

"Here. You, you're drying out." His heart takes a little leap again as he looks at her face. She's so incredibly beautiful, it's little wonder there are tales of sailors jumping into the ocean in pursuit.

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She finds it hard not to stare at him either. Though she's a little less shy about it. A smile slowly coming to her face as she realizes...he is just as scared of her.

The mermaid takes the towel with both hands, setting it in her lap. She seemed less skittish now, content to sit there with him.

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Now that she's not fin-slapping him, he takes a moment to sit upright, a shy smile on his face. It's completely reflexive and he's not quite certain why but he can't help smile back.

"H-hi. Sorry, about all that. And bringing you here, but you were up on the beach and I..." His eyes glance down at her tail and he quickly blushes. Was it rude? It was hard not to stare. "I couldn't just leave you there."

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Her smile stays, listening to him talk. There was something very....nice about him.

"Hi." She was repeating what he said, but it seemed as if she understood. Whether it was words or tone, it was hard to say. He was staring at her tail. The mermaid obliges by moving her tail slightly side to side, as if to convince him it was indeed real. And then wrings out the towel over the drying scales to wet them.

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It's not until she wrings out the towel that he realizes he should get the bucket he'd left at the door.

"Wait here." He puts his hands out, motioning for her to stay still. He stands slowly, sidling by her and then retrieving the bucket as it sloshes while he brings it to her. "Here. We're not too far from the beach, but none of the fishermen will find you here. You were hurt pretty bad. Did you get caught in the storm last night?"

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She dabs at her forehead with the towel, that bump still ached slightly. But he was bringing something else over, something with water. Reaching for the bucket, she up-ends it over her head with a sigh of relief, completely soaked.

"....yes." It's a quiet answer, as if not sure if she should speak it.

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And...now his floor is completely covered in water. Not that it doesn't do that every time it rains anyway, and it'll drain down between the slats. There's something about the action though that amuses him, watching a mermaid completely douse herself in water.

"I almost got caught in it too." And now he's moving for the first aid kit, bringing the white and rust-colored tin over. It rattles gently as he sets it on the floor, sitting next to her. He's already soaking himself, so he doesn't care if he sits in the water. He pulls out some waterproof medical tape, gauze and a tube of antibiotic salve. "Here, let me put this on your head, it'll help."

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Her eyes are on him everywhere he goes, curious at the tin in his hands. There are more things inside. Without asking, she picks the tape out of his hands, turning it over in her own. It wasn't something one saw in the ocean. The roll was smooth and round, like a perfectly formed seashell.

He might have to do without the tape till the end, she's finding it fascinating at the moment.

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"Okay." He looks uncertain, a wary glance at that tail again before he leans forward on his knees. "Let me just dab this on..." He puts the balm on a piece of gauze and leans in to dab it gently on her head.

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Oh no. He was coming close with something in his hand again. Betty quickly puts a hand up to catch his wrist, uncertain. They hold that position for a moment before she lets his hand go.

Trusting him not to hurt her. Her eyes are worried though, was her trust misplaced? Her heart said no.

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He looks quite nervous when she grabs his wrist, but he doesn't force it anywhere until she lets go. He continues his approach slowly, and then with the gentlest touch he can muster, he tries to spread the antibiotic over the cut on her forehead.

"There."

--------------------

A small smile. This wasn't so bad. In fact, it was helping her head feel better.

"...Bruce?" She did remember that, was it his name?

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His smile widens as he finishes putting the balm on, and he folds up the gauze. He can burn it with his own materials later.

"Yes, I'm Bruce. What's your name?" He goes into the box for another piece of gauze.

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She lets him work, still watching him though. He knew how to make others feel better. She wanted to know how to do that too.

There's a slight flush of pink in her cheeks at the question. "...Elizabeth."

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His own face flushes, she has a pretty name, he should have figured. It seemed to strangely human, but then again, he was one to talk. With an apologetic look, he holds out his hand for the medical tape.

"May I? I need it, so this," he wiggles the gauze, "will stay on your head. Just for today. I'll take it off when I bring you back to the ocean tonight."

--------------------

It was the name of a ship that sank long ago.

She looks to the tape and then to his hand. A spark of mischief in her eyes as she puts it behind her back. A teasing smile on her face. Can't get it now, can you?

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He looks dumbfounded when he realizes she's playing with him. He's been a hermit for a while so trying to sort out what to do in this situation takes him a moment before he leans over so he can reach around her.

"It'll help you heal, if you'll let me."

--------------------

She keeps still, quite enjoying her game. And how close he has to be to get to the tape. They are nearly nose to nose. Betty lets him take the tape easily enough, smiling into his brown eyes.

She likes you, Bruce.

--------------------

His ears are joining in with the rest of his face as it flushes red and he takes a moment to catch his breath once he gets the tape. He's painfully aware of how close they were, and he's trying not to pay attention to that little leap in his chest. He likes her too, but he knows he can't keep her here on land, and in the sea....he just can't.

There's a wistful sigh from him as he pops the clam-shell open and starts to roll out some tape, ripping it off the roll and sticking it to the gauze.

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She watches, curiously. Picking up the roll of tape when he sets it down to play with the sticky side between her fingers. And then rolling a piece around her finger. It's almost distracting enough, she doesn't mind him taping up her head wound. But not as distracting as he was. There was a connection between them, as if they had always known each other but been apart for so long.

When he leans in to finish the bandage, she leans too. Right into his lips, her hands settling against his face.

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"Mmph." Well, at least he got it stuck onto the right place on her forehead before she kisses him. He's...not quite sure what to do really, this was the last thing he expected from her but it's quite....nice. His eyes close, she smells of the ocean and it's a comforting smell that's always drawn him to the water's edge. He lingers there a moment, and then he needs to take a breath to calm his racing pulse. He couldn't do this, it would set him off and then where would he be? Where would she be? He sighs sadly, gently removing her hands from his cheeks as he moves to pick up the bucket. While she's under his care, the least he can do is keep her from drying out.

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Her smile fades as he moves her hands. Why was he sad? Why was he keeping her away?

She tries to hold to one of his hands but her drying skin on her hands slips through. Betty looks to her hands, now realizing how utterly dry she feels. Most of the water has run out through the floor boards and dried out.

It was harder to breath too, Betty making a slight gasping noise as she breathed the air through dry gills. Laying back onto the floor was all she could do right now. She didn't want to leave. It seemed...right....to stay here with him.

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Bruce hurries down to the edge of the water, scooping up a bucket full and lugging it quickly back up to the shack. He can see her laying there, trying to breath and he can feel it wrenching his heart. Gently, he starts pouring the water over her, starting at her head and making certain to soak her completely. Perhaps bringing her here wasn't the best idea, but to drag her back to the beach at this time of day? It was highly likely that a boat would pass by, or someone would walk along the beach and see them.

"Hold on, I need to fill the bucket again. I'll be right back." He knew though, he couldn't keep this kind of pace up all day long. Even with dampened towels to help keep the moisture, it would be like torturing her. He rushes out, scoops up another bucket-full, and winces as it splashes on the way up the steps. Every drop feels like a minute more he loses with her.

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She holds still for the pouring water, sighing a watery sigh of relief. It wasn't the ocean, but it was better than nothing. Her worried eyes watch him leaving again. How she wished he would stay.

When he returns, she's gotten to the door, trying to open it from the inside.

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That's it. Regardless of the risks, he knows she can't stay here any longer. He thought he was helping, that he was doing the right thing but here he is again, bringing harm to other people. He drops to his knees, the bucket splashing and nearly spilling as he does.

"I'm sorry. I should have kept you closer to the water. Here, let me soak the towels again. I'll bring you back." He can't stand to see her struggling.

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When he brings the towels over, she gives him a reassuring smile despite her difficulty breathing. He shouldn't be sorry, it wasn't his fault.

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He quickly dunks them into the bucket, and then drapes them over her. What's left in the vessel is splashed onto her and then he's picking her up again. Hopefully now that he won't be lugging her around unconscious, she'll be able to help him. He's still without shoes, but that this point he has to get her to the ocean quickly. A wet towel is draped over her head last as he makes his way out of the door.

"Put your arms around my neck. We're going back to the water."

--------------------

"The water..." Yes, that's where they needed to be. Betty holds around his neck, letting herself be carried. The water was home for her.

There are a few clouds starting to block out the sun, the beginnings of another storm on the horizon. There were a few fishing boats being tied up at the docks but no one on the beaches.

--------------------

Bruce was going right back to where he'd found her, the secluded piece of sand shouldn't have any wanderers around but then again his luck has never been good. It's easier going this time, but still the debris sticks painfully into his feet and hardened as he is, it still makes him wince occasionally.

Finally, he reaches the soft sand again and he loses no time heading straight for the surf. Down the beach his netting is still in the sand, the tide still at its low point though that will soon be turning against him too. He doesn't enter the water in the most graceful of manners, splashing loudly as he bring her right into the water with him. There was no way he'd just put her in the shallow surf in her condition, and expect her to swim off under her own power. He would deliver her right to the waters, taking himself in shoulder-deep.

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She had been quiet the whole way to the water, her grip around his neck slowly growing weaker. Till they enter the water.

The salt water revives her, washing the dry scales off and leaving a glittering surface once again. She squirms slightly, getting free enough to dive into the surf gracefully.

She surfaces near his elbow, a smile that's all for him. Now that he was here, he would stay. Right?

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He sighs in blessed relief as she washes clean, glittering again in the water. Perhaps he hadn't completely messed things up. He smiles back and then quickly leans in to check her bandage. It seems to be holding up well.

"If you can, try to keep that on for the rest of the day. Okay?" He's trying very hard not to melt at the sight of her smile, but it can't be helped. There's something incredible about that look from her that makes him forget he has any problems.

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"Okay," she says in return, floating easily at his side in the surf. Whether she was saying okay to his question or saying she was okay in general, it was hard to tell.

There were men coming up the beach, their voices reaching them. Soon they would be spotted there in the ocean. Betty finds his hand underwater, a question of her own. "Please stay?" She doesn't realize how hard that would be for him. Or how hard she's making it for him to leave.

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"I can't." He turns, they're not within sight yet, but she has to leave or they'll be after her. "You have to go. More people are coming, and I don't think they'll be friendly." Mermaids were hit or miss. Sometimes locals revered them, but more often than not, they were feared. Even though she holds on to his hand, he keeps his open, hopefully making it clear he's not going to hold hers in return even though it hurts.
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labcoatgirl: (Default)
Elizabeth (Betty) Ross

April 2014

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