Rayan looked everywhere with his serious and careful eyes.
What did humans consider valuable? No matter how much he looked around, couldn’t figure it out.

He had flatly told Erich that since he would be accompanying him, he didn’t need to know anything, but he changed his mind after he thought about it more thoroughly.
He wanted to buy a thing or two Erich would personally like, not just something he himself liked.

The problem was that even though he had learned the human concept about paying price in order to get what you wanted, he didn’t know what humans valued.

“If I had known this would be the case, I would have listened to him when he said he would teach me.”

That day, his heart had fluttered with hate towards learning, after that, he had been thrilled with just the word “festival”, then he had been worried about what to do about Alle, so he hadn’t been able to think about anything else.

“What are you so worried about?”

Suddenly, a voice came over him from behind.

Rayan looked back in surprise.
Yuri laughed mischievously.

“Yuri!”

“It’s been a while, Rayan.”

Rayan hugged Yuri softly.
He felt he was going to choke, but his joy was greater than the discomfort, so he didn’t push him away.
Yuri, who welcomed his companion after a year, had been in the Dolphin Clan Realm, he, who had loved being free, became more faithful than ever once he got married, and rarely visited Atisa and Rayan.
Rayan respected him, however.
Now, being a Guardian was not very appealing, being rather shackling.

He was a little curious.

What was that feeling of love that could even change Yuri??

“Your face has improved.”

“I should be the one saying that.”

As soon as he responded, Yuri rubbed him in his arms.
Yuri, who was much bigger than Rayan, squeezed and hugged him, until breathing became more and more difficult.

“Still cute and lovely.”

Yuri, not realizing he was having difficulty breathing, hugged Rayan, whom he had not seen in a long time, being caught up in his own emotions.
At first, he was happy, but as he slowly squeezed harder, Rayan ended up pushing Yuri away.

“What.
What a cold push.
Rayan?”

“It’s because you hugged me too tightly.”

“Still, it’s nice to see you after a long time.”

Yuri had a gloomy expression on his face.
Even though he knew he was faking it, Rayan went up to Yuri and jabbed him with his hand.

“Would you like to hug me again?”

“…”

“Yuri.”

Yuri, who had been prolongedly furrowing his brows, felt the corners of his mouth twitch..
The twitch quickly turned into laughter.
“Haha~”.
The sound of Yuri’s laughter spread widely.
It was late at night and dark, people passing by were drawn to the sound, glancing past.

“You.”

“Then what, what did you want to ask?”

He looked as if he was going to get angry again, so it was obvious that he turned away.
However, Rayan, who had tuned in to Yuri’s rhythm even though he knew it was a lie before, was harsh this time as well.
He doesn’t know anything about the outside world, though, since he’s very sympathetic.

“Oh… I was going to ask you about what humans value.”

“Hmm.”

When he made up an excuse, Yuri looked at Rayan with a slightly suspicious look.
However, Yuri, who could have never imagined, even in dreams, that Rayan had already been interacting with humans for two years in the Surface World, soon resolved his doubts.

“I don’t know exactly, but I have a rough idea.”

“What is it?”

“It’s something close by from here, but…”

While saying that, Yuri glanced at Rayan for a moment.

“Never mind.
Would you like to go out with me?”

“What is close by?”

“That is for later.
If you go, you will understand.”

“But go out? Where?”

“You will know once we get there.
I’m sure you will be interested in it too.”

Whenever Yuri spoke confidently like that, Rayan would usually be satisfied.

“Ah.
I have to tell Alle.”

He didn’t know if Alle was absent because of going back to his realm.
When Alle was present, he had to stay in a place where Alle could see him.

“Did you cause trouble?”

“No.”

“If you hadn’t caused trouble, Alle wouldn’t be keeping an eye on you, Rayan.”

His point was irrefutable, so Rayan averted and rolled his eyes.
Yuri looked at him with a very funny face and spread his palm.
As the floating water droplets shone, he blew them back.
It was usually a method used to deliver words to distant parties.
But Rayan was not an adult and could not use it.

“Here.
Let’s go.”

He could somehow imagine Alle’s expression of anger after receiving the notice from Yuri but Rayan couldn’t bear to say he wouldn’t go, so instead, he followed Yuri with a half-anticipating expression.

———

Yuri went out of Atisa as if it was a normal thing to do.
But that wasn’t odd.
There was no way Atisa had any of the interesting things he had been talking about.

On the way, Rayan asked Yuri what he had been wanting to ask.

“Are you happy?”

After all, the thing he wanted to ask him the most was about his life with his companion.

‘I like it.’

Yuri smiled broadly.
As soon as he got out of Atisa’s barrier, he shapeshifted back into his original body, but it was strange to see a dolphin laugh so happily obviously, even though he was in the form of a dolphin.

“You were adverse to it at first.”

When his clan decided to marry him off, Yuri went on a rampage, saying that it was up to himself to marry; that his mate would be decided by him.
Then, at some point, he fell in love and first rushed to marry.

‘It’s just… I do not know.
It permeated me from a certain moment.’

“What is it like when you like someone?”

‘Your heart beats.’

“The heart is always beating.”

‘It means you can feel your heart’s existence.’

Well, I can feel it too right now? Rayan stopped swimming and put a hand on his chest.
Thump thump.
He could feel his pounding heart under his palms.

‘Rayan is still young.’

“I’m not.”

‘Listen carefully.
Don’t wander about without realizing your feelings until too late.’

Rayan, who had denied being young, stopped and focused on Yuri, who had opened his mouth while looking at him seriously.
As he unconsciously nodded his head, Yuri slowly chose his words.
His slightly defocused eyes gently curved as if thinking of someone somewhere else.

‘You want to keep seeing them.’

“…”

‘Even though you are together with them, you want to be closer.’

“…”

‘If they’re not there, you keep thinking about them.’

“No.”

Rayan, who had been listening intently as if possessed, denied it.

‘What?’

With dreamy eyes, Yuri, who had been sharing the emotions he had experienced, looked at Rayan with a puzzled expression, but he couldn’t answer him back.
He couldn’t tell Yuri, but Rayan certainly had such feelings.
‘I want you, I want you to stay longer even though we’re already together.
I think about you when you’re not here, it’s a pity having to say goodbye’.
But Erich was a friend.
He had never thought of him that way.

“… No.”

As Rayan once again weakly denied it, Yuri’s eyes changed.

‘Who? Perhaps… Ayla?’

“I said no.
That’s not a feeling of love.”

‘If you don’t know, kiss them.
Maybe Ayla would be happy if it was Rayan.’

Yuri, who had already concluded that the other person was Ayla, laughed and made sarcastic remarks as if the situation was funny.
It hurt his lips to add that it wasn’t Ayla.
Rayan was more concerned about what he had heard earlier than that.
In the end, he couldn’t hold back his doubts.

“Why kiss?”

‘That’s because when you kiss, if your heart flutters, it means you like the other person.’

“No.
I mean… We tangle our tails, right?”

Yuri’s face, which seemed to express that he didn’t understand, became strangely distorted as Rayan continued to speak.
He seemed to be holding back his laughter as if was seeing a naive child.
Rayan tilted his head in wonder.

‘Rayan.
Do you still believe in that? Alle and Ayla… Ah, it’s not something they would talk about.’

As he answered his own question, he nodded his head again.
Rayan.
Yuri lowered his voice and whispered.
Naturally, Rayan tilted his head.

‘Although it is used as a sign of affection, you kiss the one you love.’

“…”

‘I didn’t expect you to believe what others would say to young mermaids.
I’m sure all the mermaids younger than Rayan already know the truth.
Only very young children are fooled.’

The first thing that came to Rayan’s mind was Alle, who had a displeased expression on his face when he told him he had kissed Erich while breathing into him.
He had known the truth, but didn’t tell him.
For a moment, he felt the unfairness at the thought of being deceived, but seeing the laughing expression on Yuri’s face as if he was about to die of laughter, his annoyance soared.

Rayan, who was huffing and puffing at the giggling Yuri, did not smile until he stopped.

So, according to Yuri, mermaids kiss their loved ones just like humans do.
Rayan kissed Erich dozens of times in the past two years to breathe life into him, and he didn’t feel much.
Although his heart fluttered just a little.

“Anyway, it’s not like that.”

‘How do you know that without even trying it?’

“… Never mind it.”

‘No, try it and tell me.’

“Let’s go already.”

‘I wonder if I’ll hear some compliments from Ayla.’

Rayan grabbed Yuri with his hand as he didn’t want to haggle any more with this subject.
Yuri, while murmuring, steadily made his way again.
The place where Yuri was leading him was quite distant.
However, seeing that he wasn’t going up, it didn’t seem like was going to the surface.
He went down and further down.

“Where are we going?”

‘We’re almost there.’

When he urged him, asking how far they were going, Yuri flapped his fins at him, saying they were approaching.
Rayan’s eyes widened as he resigned and followed him, thinking that he was going to take him to a strange place.

‘Look.’

As he examined Rayan’s reaction, Yuri let out a sound of triumph.

‘I thought it would be interesting.’

What he saw before his eyes was a very large ship that had sunk into the depths of the sea.

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