Tamaki’s vision returned all at once, and he could feel a wave of nausea wash over him. Suddenly, he felt cold, a common side effect after depleting one’s mana; it was to be expected. What he didn’t expect was how cold he felt. It was as if he had taken a trip to the icy oceans of the arctic. Just how much mana did this shard drain from him?!
Tamaki reached out and grabbed the shard, and was suddenly aware of the dramatic mana decrease in the surrounding waters as it started to restabilize, as well as the raw energy coming from the shard in his cold, webbed hands. He shivered and the world started to fade. Just as soon he felt himself begin to drift off, he felt a strong arm around him and snapped back to reality; awake , but not exactly clear-headed.
Tamaki’s eyes met with Mirio’s. A strained smile was plastered on his face and he could see the remnants of stress in his complexion. Tamaki frowned. He hated seeing Mirio upset, even if it couldn’t have been helped. He knew Mirio felt helpless watching as his friend became weaker and weaker losing his mana to the shard.
“Tamaki, have I ever told you that you’re amazing?” Mirio said, his voice hushed.
Tamaki could feel his cheeks heat up, in sharp contrast to the cold suffusing the rest of his body. “That’s not true, Mirio… You’re the amazing one. Mirio huffed out a small laugh and shook his head. “Don’t doubt yourself; what you did there was incredible.”
Straightening his octopus arms, he wrapped his free hand around Mirio’s arm. Tamaki looked down and spoke almost too quietly for anyone to hear. “Guide me back?” Truthfully, he felt too weak to swim back on his own.
Mirio’s smile softened, and he brushed away a strand of hair that hung stubbornly over Tamaki’s eye. “Of course. Just make sure to hold on tight, alright?” His voice just above a whisper.
Tamaki nodded. He wanted to curl up and sleep – let himself regain the mana that he had just lost. Unfortunately, he knew he would wake up not knowing where he was which would undoubtedly cause undue worry, so he tightened his grip on Mirio’s arm and wrapped two octopus arms around Mirio’s tail for good measure.
The suckers that clung to Mirio’s tail should be enough to keep him stabilized, so he allowed himself to relax. At least, he should be able to rest his eyes for a bit while they headed home. He focused on the way Mirio’s tail flexed as he propelled them forward toward the direction of class.
As the waters parted before them, he let out a sigh. Why had this particular tracing taken so much out of him? Were his skills declining? Would his magic work if he was ever put to a more serious test?
He only realized his grip on Mirio had tightened when Mirio’s voice started to become clearer, breaking through his stream of thoughts.
Tamaki’s eyes flicked over to Mirio’s face nervously. Would he be mad that he squeezed his arm too hard? But one look at the other mer’s face revealed only relief and fondness, no trace of anger to be seen. Of course he wouldn’t be angry; this was Mirio. Why did he even doubt him? Tamaki had known him for years, so he knew that Mirio wouldn’t get mad over something like this. Stupid, stupid Tamaki. Not only was he an eight-legged freak show of a monster, he was also…
“Tamaki,” Mirio drawled, emphasizing the “i” in his name. “You’re thinking too much, leave some of the thinking for me too!” He laughed.
Tamaki found himself chuckling too, breaking free of whatever bubble the voice in his head had trapped him in. He could see the tiny forms of his classmates in the distance, as well as the red-orange glow from the skies above. Just how far out had they gone anyway? He lost track of distance after Mirio started cracking jokes about mollusks on the way.
As soon as they landed on the soft sand, Tamaki handed the shard to their teacher for the day, Aizawa, not missing the way his steely gaze seemed to be even more scrutinizing than usual. Immediately, a familiar head of periwinkle wove through the crowd of students, making its way toward the pair.