Jason’s memory of the first time that he had gone through one of the merfolk Waterways was both fuzzy and not-so-fond. That had been quite the traumatising experience.
Jason had, after all, gone through the Waterway clinging just to the very end of Perseus’ tail. Even then, he had only just barely been able to hold on.
Truth be told, Jason liked to think that the entire ordeal had been quite the turbulent experience for the both of them. He still hadn’t wrapped his head around how close he had been to getting catapulted to gods know where—and left to drown there without any help.
Thankfully, Jason never had to go through that terrifying darkness again.
Sure, there was still no light in the Waterway, as Jason and Perseus sped through it, but he was able to keep the fear at bay. Perseus was right there with him. He felt as though no harm could come to him in the seas for as long as Perseus was present.
Travelling the Waterway was now quite comfortable. Jason wasn’t about to admit it, but he rather liked feeling Perseus’ strong arms wrapped around his torso. He loved the fact that their bare chests were touching in the cold waters of the deep.
As they made their way through the depths, Perseus felt like a furnace to Jason. The merman radiated heat to him like a camp fire would on a cold night. It was comforting. It felt like love. It felt like home.
Jason snuggled into the space between Perseus’ neck and Perseus’ shoulder. It was the most comfortable place to be. Despite himself, between Perseus’ warmth and the steady beating of Perseus’ strong, muscular tail, Jason found himself inexorably slipping off into slumber.
When next he woke, Jason felt a rocky outcropping under his bare bottom and a merman lying atop him. He opened his eyes and almost instantly regretted it, the sparkling light streaming through the water was near-blinding.
When his sight had finally adjusted, Jason looked around him for a moment and realized that they were in a very beautiful and very familiar cavern.
The bright light was coming in from a hole in the cave roof, caught and magnified by the crystals clusters intermittently set into the cave walls. This was the place where Jason and Perseus had instinctively Mated each other. Jason felt emotion swell in his chest, and he looked up at Perseus with a smile.
“You built a Waterway to this place?” said Jason, through the link that their minds shared. Jason could have tried to talk, but both he and Perseus knew that, for the moment at least, it was an exercise in futility. Jason found it rather difficult to speak with water rushing over his vocal chords.
“I did,” said Perseus, his fingers finding their way to the firm muscle of Jason’s arms. “I never thought I could do it, but I decided there would be no harm in trying. It took quite a while for me to tune the spell just right, but in the end, I managed it.”
Jason had to admit, he was impressed. With each passing day, he realized how well-trained in the arcane arts his lover was. It was profound. “This place was once protected from spells like the one that I cast. But it has been so long forgotten by my people that the magic has faded enough to allow those persistent enough to pierce the barrier.” said Perseus.
“How long did this take you?” said Jason, staring at his Mate with wonder. He looked around and though his range of motion was limited by the merman lounging atop him, he noticed an emerald archway affixed to the wall. “And how can we know that none of your people will find your Waterway and use it to find us?”
“I thought you would ask that,” said Perseus with a sly grin. “You have always been far too curious for your own good,” he said.
“It did not take very long,” said Perseus, with a tender smile. He pressed a gentle kiss to Jason’s cheek, and smirked at the blush that blossomed. “Did you not notice that I had drilled a hole in the side of your ship?” he said.
Perseus bared his teeth in a savage grin, his merfolk teeth on full display. There was no glamour to soften their appearance. Filed points slotted into the gaps between opposing teeth. Perseus was not a vegetarian, by far. He and his people were made for tearing flesh from their enemies—humans, in the distant past.
“You did what to my ship?” said Jason, his eyes widening in utter disbelief. At first, he thought that surely, Perseus was merely joking. How could his ship still be floating if there was a drilled hole in the side?
Jason narrowed his eyes and looked at Perseus. That single look was all he needed to tell that it was most definitely not a joke. His jaw hung open, and his mind remained silent. He could not even fathom the words to describe the outrage that he was feeling.
“I drilled a hole into your ship,” said Perseus, a light quip to his voice. Jason was beginning to think that the merman rather loved seeing him this distressed. He could sense, from the bond that they shared, that Perseus found his outrage rather adorable. He couldn’t even begin to imagine how that could be the case, but according to his bond with Perseus, it was.
“Of course,” said Perseus, placing a hand over his mouth. Jason frowned. It looked like the merman was just barely containing his laughter. “Do not look at me like that, Jason,” said Perseus, “The hole is not meant to let water into the ship. That would simply be… stupid.”
Perseus shook his head and sent a chuckle along his mental link with Jason. Jason scowled at him. He wasn’t amused in the least. Perseus certainly found the situation humorous, but not Jason. “I placed one of those emerald frames into the side of your ship,” said Perseus cheerfully, pointing at the emerald archway that Jason had seen earlier.
Jason sighed when he felt Perseus’ cheek against his. “Once we leave here today, I will destroy the old Waterway I used to take you here, and I’ll spend the next few days linking this Gate to the one at your ship.”
Perseus traced fingers down the side of Jason’s face. “I know what this place means to you, and it certainly means a lot to me,” said Perseus, “I would like it if, no matter where we went in the world we had a way to get back to this place where it all began.”
A smile pulled on the corners of Jason’s lips. He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to Perseus’ lips. “Okay,” said Jason, cocking his head sideways, “Thank you for that.” Jason frowned for a moment. There was no way that a Waterway was the singular reason that Perseus brought him back to the cavern. It simply did not make any sense.
“However,” said Jason, looking into those sharp green eyes. “Why is it that I get the feeling that the Waterway is not the only reason that you brought me here today?”
Perseus grinned at Jason, the sight ever so slightly unnerving. Between the savage gleam of Perseus’ teeth, and the glint of mischief in Perseus’ eye, Jason had to admit that he had suddenly become a little bit nervous. “Come to the surface with me,” said Perseus, “I’ll show you there.”
Jason thought about the proposal for a moment. A thought crossed his mind. “Race you there?” said Jason, with a sly grin of his own. He decided to put aside his reservations about the look that Perseus had given him. He trusted Perseus, and he was sure that if anything was going on, he would sense it through their Mate bond.
“Surely you jest,” said Perseus with a scoff. Jason frowned at Perseus for underestimating him, though he understood why. “You’ve no hope of winning against one of the merfolk. Much less the son of Poseidon. Even with the gift that I gave you!” said Perseus.
“Put your gold where your mouth is, Perseus,” said Jason with a grin. “The usual bet?” he said. “Let it be known that if you agree, I plan on taking that ass of yours tonight,” said Jason with as much bravado as he could manage in his body. If Perseus was going to underestimate him, he was not going to go down without a fight.
“Of course,” said Perseus with grace. “I shall give you a head start. To compensate for my natural proficiency in the sea. Of course, that is fair, right?” said Perseus as he bared his teeth in a savage, challenging grin.
“You have thirty seconds, Jason,” said Perseus in a taunting tone of voice. Jason watched as Perseus rolled off of him. He felt a sharp tug at his arm as Perseus tossed him into the middle of the cavern, with just enough force that he stopped right under the opening in the roof. “Try to get as far as you can, my prince,” said Perseus, “I don’t want you to feel too bad when I fuck your ass tonight.”
Jason stuck his tongue out at his Mate and raised his arms above his head. With a single stroke and a kick of his legs, he was off toward the surface.
Jason kept going for a little while. He thought he was doing pretty good when after two minutes or so, he still hadn’t seen Perseus swim past him. “I bet you are regretting giving me a head start now, love,” said Jason,through their mental bond.
Jason took the moment to look down, just to check where Perseus was. He was surprised to find that Perseus was still lounging on the rocky outcrop that he and Jason had been on. “Of course,” said Perseus, with dry amusement, “I am very much regretting it.”
Jason scoffed through their mental link. “Showoff,” he said with a smirk. Jason turned his eyes and his thoughts back to the surface. Jason thought he had made a lot of progress, but it seemed that no matter how hard he tried, the surface was approaching very slowly.
Just as he was about to complain about foul play, Jason heard his Mate’s voice reverberate in his mind. “Your time is up Jason, son of Jupiter!” said Perseus with a loud whoop that Jason could hear through the water, “It is now my time to shine!”
Jason found himself tumbling backward through the water when no more than a few moments later, Perseus shot past him, leaving behind a frothy trail of bubbles.
Jason spent a moment admiring the bubbles. He even reached out to pop a few that came his way. For a moment, all was well in the world—other than Jason’s bruised pride, of course. In the next heartbeat, Jason realized there was a powerful current in the area, and he had drawn much too near it.
The vicious current that had propelled Perseus at inhuman speeds to the surface wrapped itself around Jason’s arm and pulled him with all its might. Jason found himself tumbling gracelessly toward the surface.
Jason’s mind was a whirl of emotions. He felt exhilaration, panic, fear, and joy all at the same time. He did not even notice that halfway up to the surface, he had passed out.
Jason blearily opened his eyes to see Perseus looking over him with concern. The sun was shining down on him, warming him with its light. “Did I win?” he asked, rather shakily, as he reached up to touch Perseus’ face.
Perseus huffed at Jason for a moment before smiling tenderly. “Keep thinking that, captain” Perseus quipped. “If it helps your wounded pride, I don’t see what’s wrong with a little self-delusion.” Jason swatted at his Mate. There was no need to add insult to the injury of his utter failure at beating Perseus to the surface.
Jason realized that he had been floating on his back. He straightened himself and began to tread the water. He looked around, puzzled by the sight of white sandy beaches all around him, the shores not too far off in the distance.
Jason was utterly confused for a moment, until he realized that they were likely in the middle of an atoll. Far below, the image sharp despite the depth it appeared to be, was the yawning maw of the cavern. The crystal-clear water was the same colour as Perseus’ eyes, and Jason could not help but gawk at the beauty.
“So,” said Perseus with a grin, “Will you let me show you what I want to show you, now?” Again, Jason saw a glint of mischief in Perseus’ eyes and felt the nervousness return because of it. Nevertheless, he nodded at Perseus.
As nervous as the look that Perseus flashed him made Jason, Jason decided that it was far more prudent to get things over with. “Good,” said Perseus, baring his teeth at Jason.
The merman raised his arms above the waves of the pool of water that were around him and Jason. There were very few openings to the greater ocean beyond the boundaries of the atoll, so the waves were quite small and created by the wind, mostly.
Perseus began to sing in an ancient merfolk tongue, the sound lilting and somewhat haunting. Jason looked at his Mate with awe, unable to describe the soulful beauty of the song.
Perseus moved his arms and his hands in time to the beating of the song. All of the waves that rippled through the pool around the two of them suddenly became still. At first, Jason thought that the entire pool had frozen solid, but it hadn’t.
Jason looked down at his arms and his legs as he was treading the water. The flat surface did not even ripple as he moved. He felt as though he was swimming through glass.
Perseus’ song came to a crescendo and drew Jason’s attention back to his Mate. Perseus dipped his arms in the water and raised them again, rivulets streaming off of his arms.
A few feet in front of Perseus, something began to rise from the depths. Jason swam a little closer to take a better look, but even then, he could not quite tell what it was. After a minute or so, he realized what the object was. It was a throne made of water as clear as glass. It seemed as though it was made of something solid, but it wasn’t.
Even though the throne held its form, its surface rippled and splashed. It was beautiful. It was majestic. “What sorcery is this?” said Jason with awe.
“A throne fit for a king,” said Perseus with a grin. Perseus lowered his arms, but the throne did not follow them. The throne remained where it was, regal and strong.
The small waves from earlier returned. The surface of the water was not eerily flat anymore. “If you are to be king upon Olympus when we take it back,” said Perseus, “would it not be best if you knew how to sit upon so regal a throne?”
Jason had to admit, Perseus made a good point. He had been wondering what it would feel like to sit upon the watery construct. His suspicions of foul play were thrown aside as Perseus gestured toward the throne. “Be my guest, my prince,” said Perseus, “Your throne awaits.”
Jason swam up to the throne and pulled himself up onto the seat. It was so strange, propping his arms up on something that shouldn’t have been so solid and yet was. Liquid water should never have been so rigid.
Jason reclined in the seat, turning his face to the sun. Warmth flooded his veins, and he felt more alive now than he ever had in the last hundred years. His wings, snowy white an resplendent, unfurled from his back to the pleasing sound of a gasp that slipped from Perseus’ lips.
“Your wings,” said Perseus, with a slight hint of awe and envy in his voice. “They have become more magnificent in the years that we have been apart than I could have ever imagined. I must admit,” said Perseus with a smile, “I am somewhat jealous.”
“Adoration from a loyal subject, already?” said Jason with an amused smirk. “That is so very sweet of you my dear. Now, come hither and worship at my throne, son of Poseidon,” he said as he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“I could certainly get used to a chair like this,” said Jason, pleased at the way that the back of the chair caressed his sensitive wings.
“Oh, Jason,” said Perseus, a hint of playful malice creeping into his voice. Jason’s eyes grew wide as he looked at his merman lover approaching the throne. “So innocent, so naïve…”
“So… trusting.” Jason felt a shiver run up his spine. There was only one reason that Perseus would ever sound like that, and as excited as the prospect made Jason, he balked at it. “Too late!” said Perseus, as he whipped his hands forward.
Tendrils of water launched up from the surrounding atoll and lashed around Jason’s wrists, ankles, and midriff. “I do believe that I have a bet to collect on,” said Perseus with a grin. “I intend to have that sweet ass of yours before we get back to the ship, so sit back, relax, and enjoy…”