Ficlet of FishTank and Enki
Still without a title. This was getting long so the part 1 in full is here. I broke them 500 words at a time. It took me another 1.5 K to fix it. This be the part 2 in full to finish out the ficlet. Thanks to @gumnut-logic for the read on the final part.
Just a quick edit - it’s on AO3 now in full - https://archiveofourown.org/works/36699559
Again - [Part 1 is here]
Close yourself off. He says it a few times, looking between himself and the two dolphins.
Gordon didn’t answer.
Then finally, a low, “I can’t.”
“He won’t let me. He thinks he’s helping.”
Okay. Re-assess. Situation: one brother in pain, who reached out to their telepathic dolphin friend to wake his hibernating bear of a brother; one dolphin who’d gotten a taste of their brother’s pain, thought he was dying, and now won’t let him sever the link for his own safety; two bystanders. One human, one cetacean.
Drugs – slowly working, maybe.
“Okay, Gordon. I’m going to go check on him.” Virgil stripped off his shirt as he spoke. “Can you—Jesus, stop!”
With a sudden surge of desperation, Gordon had slid himself out of the chair, and started crawling toward the edge of the boat. Virgil went to reach for him in shock, but as he did so Gordon’s eyes burned when they met his. “No. M’going.”
“Okay, okay, but let me help you.” One bad idea after another, but Gordon’s ire deflated with Virgil’s assurance that he wasn’t going to pull him back. He wouldn’t, couldn’t do that to Gordon. As much as he itched to wrap him up in blankets and protect him, he’d never take away Gordon’s autonomy, his will. It was a sure-fire way to squash his spark.
He had to trust.
“Here’s how this is going to work.” He exhaled thickly. “I’m going to pick you up. It’s going to be hell. But I’ll get you in the water, I promise. Then I’ll be right there, okay?”
He knelt beside him, helped him turn, and slipped his arms under Gordon’s back and behind his knees. As he lifted, Gordon’s arm came up around his neck. It was silent save for low moaning from the water, and as Virgil glanced down at his charge he noticed Gordon biting at his lip, his eyes squeezed tight.
“You don’t need to hide it from me.”
Virgil crossed to the edge of the boat, carefully knelt at the edge where Tethys waited, and lowered Gordon to the surface of the water. As the tides took his weight, Gordon slid his arm to Tethys’ dorsal fin and let the life vest do the rest to keep him afloat. Virgil didn’t take his eyes off him, or his hand from his side, where less than gracefully he quickly rolled out of the boat to avoid losing contact with his brother, his own life vest helping him tread water.
A flutter, a light butterfly of movement danced over his heart. “Where’s Neith?” He asked, recognizing the feeling, but not seeing her nearby.
Tethys responded with the impression of others running their fins over his head and it reminded him of the embrace of his siblings. She was with family, with the pod, he realized. Then, he felt the blazing surge of love of hurt that came from the instinct to protect. He thought of Alan, how there were still things they kept from him, not because he couldn’t handle it, but because they didn’t want him to have to.
They weren’t sure what they would find when they came here. So they kept her away.
“I understand,” he told her.
“Enki didn’t want her to see him like this,” Gordon also answered.
Or you. He figured out between their responses.
She and Virgil took opposite sides of Gordon’s weight, and with gentle pushes over the waves the four of them came together, in a series of overwhelming explosions behind Virgil’s eyes. For just a moment, when he passed Gordon over to Enki, his fingers met the shedding skin and the touch flooded his mind with excruciating knives searing fire into his spine.
He lingered there, gasping.
“Don’t,” Gordon pleaded. “I know what you’re thinking.” He shook his head stiffly, and Virgil felt pinpricks up his neck. “It doesn’t take anything away. It just makes you suffer too.”
“I don’t want you to feel what I feel. Or him.” Virgil sharply withdrew his hand, his mind, and Gordon sighed a thank you. He began muttering to Enki to please let him go, let him take it away. But the dolphin was stubborn.
Tethys slipped past them to swing around to Enki’s other side, so she and Virgil were flanking the two. The agony waved through them. He didn’t need to be connected to feel it, and he and Tethys took turns whispering comfort as they let the water and the company soothe them.
Virgil clung to his little brother, who floated on his back but kept a constant connection to the aching dolphin. Low in his throat, Virgil hummed, feeling the baritone vibrations rumble through their muscles, through Gordon, and Enki, and Tethys.
“Have you felt any more relief yet?” Virgil asked, wondering if the medication had settled in deeper or whether it had just taken the edge off.
That was a lie.
Enki cried near them, this time an ache he felt in mind, and Tethys sent him a gentle prod.
“They want something.”
“What is it?”
He was reminded of the feeling of stepping into the sea, that transition between worlds, the brush of waves on sand where the two places connect. They were standing on the brink, and the water was so inviting. He ached for it. A clicking whistle of hope vibrated over the swells, and he wondered if this is what Gordon heard in the call to the ocean.
“She wants you to come to the water,” he said to him once the image faded. “Deeper?”
Gordon frowned, then suddenly his eyes swung wide. “That’s why he’s so open. Shit. Enki, m’sorry.” Gordon closed his eyes, and Virgil could feel the shudder run through Gordon’s body, then fall calm with a deep sigh. Enki too had silenced, but the change was abrupt when Enki’s head bobbed in the water and his fins flapped at the surface, the energy flowing back through his body.
He felt from Tethys a wave of joy. “What happened?”
Gordon’s voice was light. “Did you know dolphins have a faster healing rate than humans? They are clearly sensitive to pain but can brush off a shark attack like there’s no pain at all.” He glanced up at Virgil to make sure he was following because of course Virgil didn’t actually know. He was no marine biologist. “There’s a theory that they can produce a natural painkiller.”
“So since we got here-”
“Since we got here, his mind was open so I could step in. To get away from – all this. It’s like a giant hug of morphine.”
“He was trying to help all along; just not in the way we thought.”
Gordon nodded. “He still thinks I’m dying, though.”
Virgil held him tight and safe. “Gordon,” he whispered. He threaded his fingers through his hair, where blond had turned dark at the tips with the tickle of the water at his neck. “Then I think you need to explain to them now.”
“Yeah,” he breathed out. “Okay. I was in a – um – boat crash,” he said. “A few years ago.” It was hard for him to speak about, to find the words that were going to make sense to them. He skipped words like hydrofoil but tried to explain to them that it was fast. Really fast. Faster than they could swim, faster than even anything in their ocean home.
When it crashed…
He skips that part, jumps instead to waking up broken.
He traced the line of Enki’s spine, similar yet different to a human’s, using the word ‘foundations’ in place of bones and vertebrae. He explained if Enki’s foundations were broken, he’d be unable to move.
Virgil felt Tethys ask about his back, if that was why it sounded different to them.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s the way I healed. Eventually.”
The next phrase is not clear when they send it to them, the pod scattering and coming back together, but they have gotten decent at translating by feeling. Not broken now?
“No,” Gordon admitted. “Not broken.”
“But not pain free either,” Virgil added. “Not fixed completely. I help when I can.”
We help. Their concern encircled.
“Yes,” Gordon murmured.
They remained there suspended in the balance, their minds weaving, leaning into each other’s with a pillowing touch of relief. Where the breathing of the sea took their minds to a lulling space of peace, and where Enki gave Gordon the gift to escape the rebellion of his own nerve-endings by letting him into his heart. Where Virgil’s hum met the vibration of cetacean whistles.
Hushed tones. “You all help.”
End Note: I have a habit of naming vox delphini stories after Lights & Motion songs, so I am thinking “as the world goes away” for this one.