by Funtails

The best part of being a lifeguard at Mermaid Beach was the ice cream. As Ahmed bit into a cone, seated at the top of his lifeguard station, he wondered how he had ever survived the first fourteen years of his life without any. Truly Australia was paradise.

OK, maybe the best thing about the beach wasn't the ice cream. There were also the boys. Boys playing on the beach, their sleek prepubescent bodies testing their new limits as they entered the last bit of childhood. Boys surfing. Boys building sand castles. Boys making friends with each other in that matter-of-fact way that happened on holiday. Boys playing golf in the putt-putt courses. Boys in shorts. Boys in speedos. Boys in speedos diving for volleyballs...

Yeah, boys were better than ice cream.

But hold on, what was this? A family walked by, Ahmed instinctively knowing from their aura that they were tourists staying over in Millionaire Row. And trailing the little group (mom with her picnic basket, dad with his cooler, and two teenage daughters) was a golden-haired boy lovingly licking an ice cream cone of his own. As the ten-year-old in his red speedo laved his tongue across the milky chocolate, his sideways head tilt gave him a view of Ahmed holding his vanilla cone. The boy smiled and raised his cone in a toast of ice cream camaraderie and Ahmed grinned and toasted him back. He watched the boy follow his parents and sisters to a clear spot a little north, where the youngster finished off his treat with some precision finger licking and wiped his hands clean on the flimsy cloth covering his firm ass. He looked around to see if anyone had spotted him and again he and Ahmed shared a smile.

Boys in speedos with ice cream. Now that's the best thing about this job.

The sun rose higher. Ahmed kept watch from his chair. Like most days, he didn't need to actually do anything. He'd rescued 14 people since becoming a Gold Coast lifeguard, two of whom had been in imminent danger, but most of his work involved making sure no one strayed from between the flags of the safe zone and giving direction to tourists. Today, he kept an extra-watchful eye on the golden-haired kid. He and his mother swam while the father read a book and the two girls sunned themselves in bikinis. Ahmed was struck by the kid's pert nose and smiling eyes and the joy with which seemed to throw his body around in the water. He was like an overactive puppy finding new ways to crash itself into the world at full speed.

On occasion, the golden boy came up on shore to have a drink or sprinkle water on his sisters. Ahmed was in the greatest danger of not doing his job then, as his eyes wandered over the boyish curves of his smooth back, his round, speedo-clad bottom and his graceful legs.

"You're daydreaming, Ahmed!" This was Jason, his supervisor, who was actually the same age as Ahmed. The redhead was walking up from behind, wagging a finger at him. "Knock it off or you'll miss some old lady getting eaten by a shark."

Ahmed liked Jason, but wasn't sure he understood the guy's sense of humor yet. He tried not to look guilty as he turned back to the ocean. Jason came alongside and leaned against the tall lifeguard chair. "Can't say I blame you though, mate."

"What?" asked Ahmed, stunned. Jason was staring straight at the golden boy, who was taking a sandwich from his mother's basket.

Jason looked up at Ahmed, a smile look on his face. "I mean, yeah, it's illegal and I get that. I'd never get involved in any underaged sex. But, still..."

Was Jason admitting that he liked boys too? Was it a trick to make Ahmed confess? Or was it one of the strange jokes Jason made from time to time?

Jason looked out at the boy and said, "A man's programmed to breed, you know, and once the hips grow out, it doesn't matter how young they are, a man's dick is gonna find teenage girls sexy. And putting them in bikinis doesn't help at all. You know what I'm saying?"

Oh, Jason was looking at the girls. "Hey," said Ahmed, his paranoia abating, "I come from burkha country, mate, I know exactly what you're saying."

Jason laughed, "Of course you do. I'm surprised you don't walk around the beach with a permanent erection."

Ahmed smiled. "That'd make rescues kind of awkward, wouldn't it?"

"Not at all," said Jason. "It's good when you can give them an extra handhold."

They laughed as they looked over the beach together. Golden boy was back in the surf already. Ahmed watched the sun glint off his wet hair as he leaped into the breaking waves.

Jason said, "I came to ask if you can cover an extra shift Wednesday."

"That's the middle of the week. Slack time. What gives?"

Jason got a disgusted look. "Huntsmoore's lot is setting up a demonstration at the Esplanade. We're expecting a lot of swimmers to spill over to Mermaid Beach so they can avoid Christine Avenue."

"Jack Huntsmoore? The anti-immigrant guy?"

"Yup, he wants to preach about how you Afghans are going to corrupt our youth and--"

"Shit!" Ahmed leaped down to the sand, already running for the water as he strapped his float can over one shoulder. Someone was caught in a rip. Even in the safety zone that happened sometimes.

Behind him, a woman screamed, "Oh my God! Hans!"

It was the kid out there in the surf. The golden boy. Just as he reached the water's edge, Ahmed saw that the boy was still calm and seemed to be treading the water skilfully. Good. But he didn't have the strength to get back to shore. The rip would take him beyond help soon and then it didn't matter how well he could swim.

Ahmed's brain went hyperfocused as he plunged in. He approached with steady strokes, churning through the distance, the streamlined can dragging behind him. The boy was struggling now, his strength giving out and there was the beginning of panic in his wide, blue eyes. When Ahmed got close, he made sure to keep his body clear in case the boy grabbed at him and offered the kid the float.

Ahmed said, "Take a deep breath and hold this, okay, Hans?"

The kid nodded his head as he took the handle at the side of the float in both hands, his shivery breaths betraying how not calm he was.

Ahmed pressed his side of the can down into the water and towards Hans, placing it deeper in the boy's grip. Satisfied that Hans would not lose his hold, Ahmed gently folded the boy into him, so that they were in a spooning position with one of Ahmed's big brown arms locking him into place. He started kicking, moving parallel to the beachline rather than fighting for the shore. The first priority was getting outside the flow of the rip.

Above them stretched the blue Australian sky without a cloud. On the horizon, little white sails stood happily bobbing. And under his nose, the fine golden hair of the boy reflected the day's brilliance. But in his head, Ahmed focused on the motion of his swimming and keeping his precious charge close and safe.

They made it out of the rip and then Ahmed turned inward. The boy was breathing steadily, his body relaxed.

Ahmed warned him, "Keep your grip on that thing, okay, buddy? Hans?"

"Yeah. No worries." Then a pause and the kid asked, "How come you know my name?"

"That's lifeguarding 101, isn't it? Be prepared. I've got files on everybody who comes to this beach."

The boy laughed, but it turned into sputtering and coughing. Which was bad timing because they were almost back to shore, so it probably looked like he was still downing to his parents. Jason appeared in the waist deep water, helping to take Hans' weight as they lifted him onto the shore where they stood him on two feet.

The boy's mom wrapped him in a towel with a shower of 'Are you okays?' and 'Oh, Babys'.

"He'll be fine," Ahmed said. "He never got into serious trouble."

"Oh, but it was so terrible, though," said the blonde woman. "I saw how fast it was taking him out. You saved him for sure."

"Oh, I think--"

Jason interrupted, "Yes, indeed he did, ma'am. Very good work too."

Still looking a little dazed, Hans turned to face Ahmed. "Thank you. You've done me a great service."

It seemed an odd phrasing for a boy, and his Australian accent even seemed to slip into something stiffer. But the look on his face was adoration and gratitude.

"Well said, Hans." This was the father, speaking for the first time. He definitely had an accent. German it sounded like to Ahmed's untrained ear. The man gave a little bow to Ahmed and added, "Is there anything we need to do now? Should we take him to the hospital?"

"Oh, no," said Ahmed, looking down Hans' still-wet body. "Just let our medical team look him over. They--"

"What he means," said Jason, elbowing him, "is that we're not qualified to give any medical advice and due to legal considerations, we have to leave the decision to you."

The father smiled. "I quite understand. I think I will have my friend who is a doctor come have a look at him once we get home."

The family packed up while Ahmed returned to duty. He kept looking over at the boy. The boy kept looking over at him. There was a twitchy kind of bond connecting them now, growing stronger just from their glances. What was this? It was more than the boy being grateful. It was more than Ahmed feeling proud.

The family waved as they left and Ahmed finished his shift. He took his bike the twenty blocks to the apartment he shared with four roommates and went to sleep.

He awoke before dawn as usual to pray, but he couldn't focus. The images of the previous day's rescue kept flashing before him. Removed from urgency and worry, his mind dwelt on Hans and the way Ahmed had felt connected to the boy in a spiritual way.

Also on how undeniably attractive he found the boy. He was young enough to be cute, but clearly about to become something more substantial--what could be called handsome. His body was smooth and toned, but still very boyish. Nubile, yet innocent.

His attraction to Hans didn't bother Ahmed. He'd grown up in a place where there was no contradiction between religion and the celebration of boys' beauty. Indeed, as he prayed, he smiled to himself. Thank Allah for the blessing of boys.

When prayers were over, he stripped down and took hold of his free weights. He had gotten them from a pawn shop right after escaping to Brisbane at age 14, his mind obsessed with never again being weak. Nowadays, the weights that had seemed so formidable to him as a teen were merely for toning the muscles he had developed.

He showered and studied for his weekend classes then rode into work for his shift.


Twelve hours later he was standing outside a three-story house on Millionaire Row, wearing new shoes, Jason's best slacks and a polo shirt with the Gold Coast Emergency Services logo that they'd dug up from storage. The outfit was less ostentatious than what he'd feared he'd have to wear when Jason had first told him he was to come here for dinner so he could be thanked properly.

The back entrance of the house (on the beach side) was shielded from view by a few eucalyptus trees and stood at the top of a short curving stairway made by laying slabs of stone into the ground as it rose from the sand. The windows facing the sea were all of tall, sparkling glass and the north side of the roof was covered in solar panels.

Ahmed had circled around here to avoid the three reporters in the parking lot. He still had a headache from all the interviews he'd done earlier in the day.

The houses were pretty tightly packed here on the beach, so he double checked the address before he pressed the buzzer and waited. A click told him that someone had opened the door from inside. He stopped into a large foyer with an elegant wood coatrack on one side and an umbrella stand on the other.

"Ahmed!" A smiling boy came running out of the inside doorway and leaped up at him. Ahmed caught Hans and the boy hugged him. "You came!"

I didn't have much choice. My boss said his boss' boss said I had to show up.

He remembered his conversation with Jason that morning.

"A prince!?" Ahmed looked at the water, trying to figure out if his ordinary stretch of beach was secretly some magical site.

"Yup. A real prince. His dad is heir to the throne of some principality or whatnot and the kid is second in line."

"And I have to go have dinner with these people? Like with knives and forks and butlers and frog legs and quail eggs and--"

"Calm down," said Jason, patting his shoulder. "You did a good thing. This is a reward. Relax and enjoy it."

Ahmed gave him a snort. "You know how I am. You know I can't do that."

"It won't be like that."

But standing there now with Hans on his hip, Ahmed felt the trip was worth it just for the feel of the boy's small, warm body molded against his side. Hans' blue eyes looked up at him, their corners lined with a happy squint.

"Hans," said his mother walking in. "Hans, get down from there at once. It's not dignified!"

"Mom, it's just Ahmed!"

Uh-oh. His fears were coming through. This was going to be some kind of stiff, formal event and they would probably stick a medal on his chest the size of a pine cone and--

"Hi, Ahmed," said the boy's mother as she lifted Hans to the ground with both hands. Her Aussie accent seemed to fade into something European. "I'm Christine. I'm so sorry I was a bit incoherent yesterday. I just got so frazzled with relief. Thank you so much for saving Hans."

"It was really nothing. I don't--"

She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek then squeezed his hands in hers.

Okay, maybe this won't be so formal after all...

He looked around. Hans was dressed in khaki shorts and a polo shirt. His mother was wearing a simple white and blue dress. True, the diamonds in her ear were two years' salary for Ahmed, but the earrings were understated and simple.

From inside the doorway came the voice of the Crown Prince. "Honey, I've got the girls all seated. Are we sure our guest knows the right--" He walked in to see Ahmed. "Ah, you're here, Ahmed. Welcome. I'm Anders."

He stretched out his right hand for a shake but Ahmed barely managed to reciprocate since Hans had taken hold of that arm and was tugging him into the house, saying "Come on, I want you to sit next to me."

"Hans," said his father with a warning tone.

"Oh, sorry." He turned to Ahmed and said, "It would do me great honour if you would be seated at my side tonight."

"I, um, I would like that."


There was no butler. There was not even a dining room. They sat under an awning at the side of the house that reminded Ahmed of sails. The fabric stretched over a tennis court where a circular table was set with simple cutlery. The girls were dressed in the same richly simple style as their mother. They smiled as they introduced themselves to Ahmed. The older one was Anna and she seemed to be about 16. The 12-year-old was Adalia.

Everyone served themselves from the food set at the centre, taking from an abundant supply of lamb chops, home-made meat pies, prawns, salmon and beef kebabs.

Hans said, "I made sure mom didn't put any pork on the table because you're Muslim."

"I appreciate the thought, but it wasn't necessary. I'm fine with you eating what you want."

"Good," said Christine, "then you won't mind me grabbing a beer or two."

As she got up, Ahmed said, "Actually..."


"I wouldn't mind a couple myself. You have Four-X Gold?"

Everyone laughed and Ahmed gave a sheepish smile.

There was a lot of talk about the rescue and Ahmed's job to start the evening. Given that he was not much of a drinker, the alcohol made the conversation easier for Ahmed. Perhaps too easy, for at one point he admitted, "It's a really good job for me. I usually can't handle people. I don't like crowds or strangers. Sometimes they give me panic attacks. But when I'm at work that doesn't matter anymore and I can be with people and talk to them no problem because I see myself as their protector so there's no fear."

Adalia in particular seemed taken with Ahmed's speech giving him a moony face. "You're so brave and strong. I'm sure you're the best lifeguard on that whole beach."

"Uhh, well..."

"Yes," said Hans, putting a possessive one-armed hug on Ahmed's bicep, "he's very brave."

Again the alcohol spoke for Ahmed. "I don't know if it's bravery. Sometimes it feels like the opposite of bravery, like I'm running scared in the direction of being brave, if that makes sense?" He saw Hans look up with a puzzled expression and continued, "Like when my brother and I came over, we were crowded into this boat with a couple hundred other folks and the seas were rough and the water would splash in on you like a waterfall and it would feel like you were drowning and you couldn't move because you were pressed in so tight, not even your arms and you try to push people away to make space but there's just too many of them...So now I think about that when I'm at work and I feel like I have to stay ahead of that, so I always want to rush to trouble so I'm in control."

There was silence at the table for a while then Anders said, "It sounds like you went through a lot to get where you are. Maybe you're not brave, but you're certainly resilient and that might be more useful."

Adalia asked, "What was life like in Afghanistan? Did you see people die?"

"Adalia, stop," said her mom. She turned to Ahmed and said, "So what's your favourite thing about Australia? I'm from here, so I'm always interested in making sure people get the best experience."

"I like the ice cream." He looked at Hans and the boy's blue eyes sparkled as they shared a knowing look, remembering their first glimpse of each other.

"Have you had a chance to travel around and see the sights?" asked Anders. "That's what kept me coming back, amazing places like Ayer's Rock at midnight with the stars above and--"

"Dad," said Anna with a disgusted voice. "Don't be colonialist. It's called Uluru."

"Sorry, I know, it's just hard for old men like me to process change."

"You're not old, Daddy," said Adalia. "You're still handsome and your hair isn't gray or anything."

"Suck up," said Anna.

"You don't think your daddy is handsome, Anna?" teased Christine.

While the family bantered, Hans drew Ahmed's attention by squeezing his hand. "Do you really have a brother?"

"Yes. Nawraz. He's older than me."

"Is he as handsome as you?" Adalia asked.

"Where is he?" Hans asked.

"I, um, I actually don't know. I haven't seen him in ten years."

Again the table went silent. Then Hans asked, "How come?"

"We were in a camp in New Guinea for a couple of years after our boat got picked up by the coast guard and it was horrible. Almost like being on the boat. A little less packed, but so many more people. I felt like I was drowning all the time. And then we realized we would be stuck there forever, so Nawraz..."

Ahmed looked around. He had never told anyone about this part of his life, but the connection he felt to the boy at his side was stronger than ever. It had even spilled over to his family. He felt safe in this home. Safer than he had felt since...

"Nawraz paid smugglers to take me from the camp when I was fourteen. They set me up here in the Gold Coast area with papers and I found ways to make money and go to school and get a job. But when I tried to get in touch with Nawraz at the camp, they said they had no record of him. I tried alternate spellings and I looked at photos and I talked to other people who had been in the camp...nothing.

"I'm sure you'll find him," said Hans. "Ten years isn't a long time, really."

"What are you talking about?" said Adalia. "Ten years is your whole life."

"It's not the time," said Hans with a mocking grin, "it's what you do with it. That's why I'm smarter than you, big sister."

"You little piece of--"

"I'm sure everything will work out fine," said Anders in an even tone of voice that silenced the children and brought the focus back to Ahmed.

Hans said, "Dad, can Ahmed go swimming in the pool with me after dinner?"

"You're not supposed to swim until an hour after eating."

"That's not true. Tell them, Ahmed. It's a myth."

Ahmed looked from the expectant face of the cute boy, his eyes hopeful and demanding all at once, to the parents and back again. "Uhm, it's not dangerous, but you could throw up. In any case, you should do what your parents say."

Anders and Christine smiled.

"Besides," said Ahmed, trying to soften the blow, "I didn't bring swim trunks."

"Oh, that's not a problem." Hans' face lit up again. "We keep new trunks in the changing room for when we have visitors. All sizes."

For a moment, all Ahmed could think about was how poor he had grown up. He remembered having only one pair of ragged shorts and two T-shirts he'd gotten from an aid center and realised Hans family kept throwaway clothes just in case someone needed to go swimming for a day. Just that simple difference made him dizzy at how much wealth this family must command.

But there was to be no swimming. The evening continued calmly with Hans asking him questions and the family making Ahmed feel welcome as they relaxed and joked. Despite the gulf he had felt between them, these were unpretentious people unafraid to be themselves. And Hans was sexy and fun and smart. Sometimes he had to wrench his face away from gazing in admiration at the boy while he did some ordinary think like chew his food or cock his head to listen to the conversation.

At 9, they arranged for a car to collect Ahmed's bike from the office and take him home. They said goodbye in the house's second foyer, near the front.

"Can I come spend the day with you tomorrow?" Hans asked after hugging him.

"Uh, probably not. It's a job that I need to focus really hard on. Imagine what would have happened if I had been distracted when you got into trouble."

"Well, can you come back again after work?"

"Hans," said Christine, "maybe it's not a good idea to--"

Ahmed's phone went off, singing the special tone that indicated Jason was calling from work.

"Are you still at the prince's place?" his supervisor asked in an urgent tone.

"Yeah. Just leaving."

"Don't leave. Don't go home! Okay? Whatever you do, you can't go back to your apartment."

"What do you mean I can't go home!"

Everyone in the room froze and stared at each other when they heard him say that.

Jason continued, "After your name came up in the news, somebody realised you have fake documents and now all those anti-immigration folks are calling for you to be arrested! There's reporters at your house and the police will be there soon. Turn on the news and see for yourself."

After Ahmed hung up, he asked Anders where the TV was. The family sat in the kitchen with him watching a reporter from Gold Coast Nine interviewing Proudmoore, the MP leading the anti-immigrant campaign.

"I don't care who he saved," the big, bald man said, his jowled face jiggling with anger. "This is a country of laws and we need to make an example of this Ahmed Zamani, if that's even his real name. I'm calling on the immigration authorities to initiate a full investigation of how this freeloader got a job with the government and to make sure they send him back to where he came from."

Ahmed stared in shock at the man standing in front of the entrance to his building. He barely noticed when Hans took his hand, but he came out of his daze when he heard the boy stifle a sob on the stool beside him.

"Hans?" He turned and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"I'm sorry," said Hans, looking up, his blue eyes wet. "I didn't--"

"You don't have to be sorry, buddy. It's not li--"

"But they're sending you away because you had to save me. If it wasn't for me then--"

Christine made a move toward Hans, but Ahmed was already encircling him with his arms, pulling his wet face to his lifeguard shirt and holding him."

"No, saving you is the best thing I ever did. I'd do it again even if I knew this would happen. Without a second thought."

But Hans just clenched his fists into Ahmed's shirt and cried into his chest as the man stroked his hair.

"I think you should stay here tonight," Anders said.

"Yes," agreed Anna and Christine.

Hans pulled away and looked warily around, as if not believing there was a way to fight this. "Can he? Really?"

"They know I'm here, sir," Ahmed said. "They're already some of them out front. I should leave now and I can be in Sydney by--"

"No," said Christine with a forceful finality. "This house is a diplomatic property. They can't touch you here.."

"That's right!" Hans smiled. "Daddy can protect you."

"I don't know. I mean it would be a lot of trouble for you to go to for me."

Anders stood at the other side of Hans and stroked his son's back. "If we can't do it for you of all people, Ahmed, then we would have no honour."

"Besides," said Christine, "we like you. We're happy to help."

"Uhm, okay then."

"Cool," said Hans. "Mom, can he stay in my room?" He didn't even wait for an answer before saying, "Oh, I should go get some of the sleeping clothes from the guest room, and the extra toothbrushes and the towels..."

He ran off and Christine gave Ahmed a helpless smile. "I think you belong to him now..."

"Dad!" said Hans poking his head back through the kitchen door. "We can go swimming now too, right? Can't we?"

"Yeah," said Ahmed, smiling along at how crazy the night was turning out. "I'll be there in a little while." When Hans had run off again, he turned to Anders and Christine and said, "Thank you so much."

Anders said, "I suspect there'll be a lot for everyone to be thankful for before this is all over."

Anders led him up two flights of stairs to a row of rooms. "This one is yours. That one over there is Hans'. Don't worry about him trying to make you his pet for the night."

Hans opened the door of his room and stepped out, holding a pair of swimming shorts. Behind him, Ahmed could see towels and a bathrobe and other clothes set out on a sofa. "I told you he was going to stay with me," protested Hans.

"He is our guest, son. We cannot impose on him."

After he had changed in the privacy of his 5-star room with its wood-paneled walls and silk sheets, Ahmed followed Hans down to the pool. It was a small affair, squeezed in between the house and the wall, just 15 feet on each side and waist deep. Leading from one corner along the length of the house were two deep swimming lanes.

Hans in his speedos was a beautiful and erotic sight. Ahmed was hard in his shorts and he thanked Allah they were the baggy kind. At first they splashed around in the warm water, then played games like seeing who could find a coin fastest or hold their breath longest. Their moving around lent itself to lots of hand holding and hugs and clinging and the comfortable closeness of Hans next to him kept Ahmed relaxed, despite knowing that the outside world was preparing to bulldoze him.

At one point, Hans got a daredevil gleam in his eyes and he demonstrated his ability to do a backflip into the water from the lip of the pool. Ahmed's admiration of the boy's athletic body gave way to alarm at how dangerous the stunt was and he forbade any more flips of any kind.

"Well then we should race," said Hans.

"Me? You want to race me? The man who rescued you?"

"The pool is different from the ocean. I swim here a lot. I bet home-field advantage makes it an even contest."

So they lined up at the edge of the deep and Hans counted them down. "Four...Three...Two..."

He jumped in at 'One' and was five metres away before he yelled over his shoulder, "Zero!"

Ahmed smiled and eased into the water. He used a relaxed breaststroke and soon caught up with Hans. He kept just ahead, switching to a sideways backstroke so he could look at Hans while teasing him. "You swim with the natural ability of an aquatic do you call it? Like a crab."

Hans growled in mock annoyance.

Ahmed continued after they made the turn at the far end and headed back. "You're graceful like a hippo. Your movement is so natural, like a rock..."

But Ahmed's amusement ended suddenly as he saw Hans' eyes grow wide, just before the finish and the boy gasped and took water into his mouth.

"Hans!" Ahmed swung under the rope separating the swimming lanes and stretched out for Hans. The boy grabbed his elbow and pulled himself almost out of the water, flipping over Ahmed shoulder and kicking his back on the other side to propel himself out of the swimming course.

"Yes!" he shouted, standing with arms raised in the shallow end zone. "Winner!"

"What the Hell was that!"

"Trickery. It's not about how old you are, it's about how crafty you can..." His voice failed as he realized how angry Ahmed was.

"That was stupid!" Ahmed tried to breathe and calm his heart rate, but his head was burning with outrage. "Only yesterday I had to save you and now you go and play a trick like that?"

"That's why it worked! Because--"

But Ahmed was already boosting himself out the side of the pool and grabbing his towel.

"Wait," said Hans, "don't go."

But he was already flying up the stairs, head pounding with a sense of panic. Behind him, he could hear Hans trying to explain himself to his mother who had come outside at the commotion. Good. He would be able to lock himself in his room. He couldn't believe the boy had toyed with him like that!

But he's just a boy. He didn't know better. It was just him playing around.

No. Ahmed couldn't accept that. Hans had taken it too far.

He looked around for the rest of the towels and the bathrobe and sleeping clothes. He remembered seeing them in Hans' room across the hall. With an annoyed grunt, he walked over to the boy's bedroom. It was set up quite well for a vacation room. A framed photo of Hans and his sisters in a Ferris wheel gondola stood on the writing desk. There was a shelf of books and toys at the side of the bed and a Playstation with a worn controller lay under the TV on the far wall. Ahmed started sorting through the clothes, picking up the robe.

"Ahmed..." Hans was at the door, standing there in his red speedos, his golden hair darkened by dampness. His skin was half dry and a towel lay over his shoulders.

By now, Ahmed knew he was overreacting to the prank by most people's standards, but his personal sense of dread had not receded. He backed away from the boy, afraid to say the wrong thing, but still angry. "Just leave me alone, okay?"

"Ahmed, I'm sorry." The boy's cheeks were wet with tears. "Don't go. Please."

Hans tossed the towel into a chair and walked towards him. Ahmed backed away, pulling the robe on like he was donning armour. "I'm not leaving. I just...need to cool down."

"Okay." Hans reached for Ahmed's hand and held it. The man's heart lurched. He liked this boy so much. He felt so connected to him. And having him half-naked in front of him, his body exposed and free, was having other effects on Ahmed. He stepped back again, but the bed was in the way and he ended up sitting to keep his momentum from toppling him backwards.

Hans sat at his side, leaning his head against Ahmed's left shoulder in silence. They sat there a while, not saying anything. A shadow at the door caught Ahmed's eyes. Christine was watching them through the half-open door, a worried look on her face. Ahmed gave Christine what he hoped was a reassuring look and she stepped away.

"You saved my life, Ahmed. Everything I have after this is because of you." Hans looked up at him. "I want you to understand that I'm not taking it lightly."

Ahmed's first instinct was to deny that Hans owed him anything, to say it wasn't a big deal. But it felt wrong to deprive the boy of his gratitude. And Hans was right, too. Ahmed had saved his life and that knowledge brought the man joy. Wasn't that one of the reasons he loved his lifeguard job? Because of how much difference he could make in one person's life?

He looked down at Hans' thoughtful face and said, "I'm glad I could do that for you." He squeezed the boy's small hand gently.

Ahmed knew he owed Hans some kind of explanation for his freakout. He spoke calmly, restraining the sense of hopelessness which speaking about his past brought on. "I've lost so much in my life, Hans. Where I come from, everything is...fucked. I lost my parents. I haven't seen my brother in ten years. I've had to walk away from every friend I ever had. Or run away. I can't bear it to lose things anymore. I can't. I can't even think about-- Just the idea of it makes me want to throw up and when I thought I was losing you tonight..."

"I'm so sorry." Hans reached his head up and kissed Ahmed's jaw. "I didn't know. And for me it's so different. My life has always been safe and then yesterday when I started to get pulled away, I understood it was dangerous and it terrified me, but as soon as I saw you running down to the water I knew I'd be fine. Something about the way you moved just felt safe."

Hans hugged Ahmed's bicep and rested his face against the man's shoulder. "And I feel safe anytime you're around. When I pretended I was drowning, it was just me knowing that I could depend on you. I didn't think about how it must seem to you."

"What say we forget that for now? We're both nice and safe in your room so we can just enjoy that."


Ahmed put his hands back to lean on the bed and pressed on something hard under the bedspread. "What's this?" he asked, reaching under.

"Oh, um, nothing important."

It was a storybook. The title was familiar, yet unusual: The Little Merboy. On the cover was a painting of a blond youth with a fish tail rescuing an unconscious, dark-skinned man with broad shoulders who was dressed in princely robes.

"Where'd you get this?" Ahmed asked, opening the pages to see that the whole book was illustrated to tell a gay version of the classic mermaid tale in simple language. They were lying back against the headboard of the big bed now. Or rather against a wall of pillows, as if the two of them were hunkered in a nest.

"Dad had it made for me." Hans was spooning his side, still latched on to his arm.

Again Ahmed's head whirled at the idea of how rich this boy's family must be.

Hans continued, "I really liked the mermaid story when I was a little kid and he used to read it to me every night, but then one time when he was done, I asked him if there were any merboys and if they ever rescued princes. So he went and paid a publisher friend of his to have a small print run of this made. I'm too old for it now probably, but I like having it around wherever I go and last night I felt like reading it again after everything that happened at the beach."

"Looks like you slept with it."

Hans smiled, a little embarrassed, but said nothing.

"So your parents know you like guys?" Ahmed asked.

"Yeah. In fact they were kind of teasing me at dinner when you weren't looking because they could tell I liked you." Hans looked down shyly. "Plus Mom saw I had a stiffy after I got down from hugging you."

I like you too, Hans.

But he couldn't say it. Unlike Hans, he hadn't grown up surrounded by a loving family and money and security. He didn't have that natural fearlessness to say what he was thinking.

Instead, he leafed through the love story of the prince and the merboy--who the artist had clearly modeled after Hans.

I have to tell him something. I can't just leave him hanging after he confessed his attraction to me. It's not fair.

"This prince," said Ahmed, "he kind of looks like me, don't you think?" That was as much as he dared acknowledge his attraction.

"Yeah," said Hans unhappily, "only I didn't rescue you, you rescued me, so it wasn't like in the storybook at all."

Ahmed turned to the last page where the dark-skinned prince was kissing the blond merboy on their wedding day. He pictured himself and Hans having a honeymoon, their bodies entwined in lust and fulfillment, then shook his head clear of the foggy fantasy. He said, "Maybe the details of the in-between parts don't matter so much as long as it ends up with everyone happy."

Hans looked up, still hugging Ahmed's arm, his expression one of uncertainty at what Ahmed was implying. The man wished he could be more direct, but he was still too afraid.

"Now you have a stiffy," Hans said matter-of-factly, nodding his chin at Ahmed's lap.

Ahmed dropped the book to cover the spike in his robe, mortified. "Oh, Hans I'm so sorry. It just happens sometimes when it rubs on loose clothing and things like this robe, you know?" And when I fantasize about making love to cute blond boys.

"I know how it goes," said Hans. "I get them too. But mostly I get them when I'm thinking naughty thoughts."

Ahmed stayed silent, unsure if he should acknowledge the implications of that statement.

Hans added with a mischievous smile, "I'm glad you're thinking naughty thoughts about me."

"You are?"

"I told you. I like you. You're so strong and handsome." Hans reached up and caressed Ahmed's face. "I want you to be my prince."

"I'm pretty sure you're the prince in all this."

"You know what I mean." Hans smiled, his red lips shiny. In a daze, Ahmed found himself just staring in wonder at the boy's cuteness. Then Hans giggled and Ahmed realized he had just licked his lips in desire.

"I...uh..." But now there was nothing to say. Their heads were tilting towards each other, mouths drifting closer. The boy tasted like cool water on a scorching Brisbane day. Ahmed pulled him closer, resting a hand on his bare back. He stroked the boy's hair with his other. Hans' tongue sought out his lips and Ahmed let him in. They played against each other's lips and breathed each other's breath. Hans smelled halfway between mint and beachside popcorn to Ahmed. His mind started to drift on the sensual moment as they held each other close and--

"Uh, hello, excuse me!" said Adalia's voice. She was standing at the door, an exasperated expression on her face. Ahmed tried to separate himself from Hans as much as possible without drawing attention to himself.

"What?" Hans asked, pulling Ahmed back towards him.

"Mom said you two can stay up here the rest of the night if you want, but to make sure you shower off the chlorine from the pool before bed."


The girl turned to leave then gave Ahmed a look of disappointment and shook her head before muttering down the hall.

"I don't think she likes me being here."

"She's been into you since we passed you at the beach yesterday. She just can't believe you like me over her."

"I like you over anybody." The words came out naturally, before Ahmed had a chance to filter them.

"Good. Let's have a shower." Hans stood and pulled at Ahmed's arm.

"Together? What about your parents? They're right in the house."

"I told you," said Hans, "they don't care. They like you."

"You say that, but how do I know they actually feel that way?"

"Should I go get them to come here and tell you?" The boy turned for the door. "Mom!?"

"No!" Ahmed stood, guiding the boy away from the door to the bathroom. "No need. I'm sure they don't want to be disturbed with that kind of stuff."

Hans led the way into the ivory-coloured bathroom with its silver appointments. There was a massive three-person shower on one side with 7 nozzles set into its curved wall and that was where the boy stopped before bending to drag his speedos down his slim legs and expose his firm, round bottom. He stood with his butt propped out and looked over his shoulder at Ahmed. "It gets pretty wet in here. I need a lifeguard to make sure I'm safe."

Even without being a native English speaker, Ahmed knew that was horribly corny. He laughed anyway as he watched Hans disappear past the frosted glass sliding door. He pulled off the robe and his swimming trunks, letting his now-hard cock swing free. "Gold Coast Emergency Services is happy to meet your needs, sir."

Hans' back was still turned when Ahmed stepped through the doorway and slid the panel shut. The boy was fiddling with the temperature and water nozzle controls. Ahmed waited until he seemed to get it just right and then stepped into the spray and wrapped his arms tight around the boy's elbows and torso. The floor was made of rubbery, non-skid tiles, so he wasn't worried about slipping. He lifted him off the ground and playfully bit at his ear.

"Oh, no!" said Hans, "a sea monster has its slimy tentacles on me. Help!"

"Those aren't slimy tentacles," said Ahmed, standing him back on the floor. He slid his hard cock against the insides of Hans' ass crease. "This is a slimy tentacle."

"Feels like the whole monster to me." Hans turned around and lifted the hard tool in his hands. "Very nice." He petted the head like it was a dog. "Good monster." The boy's hands felt so good on Ahmed's impatient cock.

"He's hungry."

"Yeah, well, looks like I'm the one who's going to get his mouth stuffed first." He started to kneel, mouth opening.

Ahmed hoisted him upright by the armpits. "This isn't playtime. Your parents said to shower."

But it was still a fun time. They sudsed each other up and explored the curves and angles of each other's bodies. Ahmed was convinced by his repeated examination of Hans's shoulders, waist, legs, butt and little cock that the boy was just about perfect. His body was slim, yet strong, toned yet soft and an ideal blending of youth and capability.

As they calmed down into a more leisurely washing down of each other, Ahmed focused on the slippery smooth feel of the boy's shaft and hairless balls. The penis was hard and bouncy as he pressed it down with his thumb and released it. He slid their soapy bodies together as he wanked Hans carefully with three fingers on his boy rod.

Then he reached to the firm cheeks of his ass, which he cupped and squeezed and stroked with his palm. He slid the ridge of his hand up the boy's crease and Hans purred. With a finger, Ahmed explored around, until his fingertip rested against the slight crinkle that revealed the small butthole. He wondered, given how things were progressing, if he would have a chance to slide his thick cock in there. It would feel so amazing he could tell. Would it happen? Could it even happen? Hans was so young after all.

Ahmed asked, "Have you actually done anything before? Sexually? You seemed pretty ready to just get going. And you're a good kisser."

From under his frothy crown of shampoo bubbles, Hans blushed. "I had a boyfriend last year. A boy from my class. He and I practiced kissing a lot."

"What happened to hi--"

"He moved away."


Hans gave Ahmed that strange mixed expression he was coming to know, mischief and embarrassment in one. "But I also watch a lot of porn."

"Oh, what kind?"

"The nasty kind."

Ahmed surveyed the innocent looking, princely features of the boy before him. "Like what?"

"I like videos where twinks get fucked hard in their ass and the top makes them deep throat their cock and then cums all over their faces. I like when the bottom begs for it. I like when they get held down."

"Oh, well, let's not take on too much of that quite yet. There's a lot more to sex than porn stuff." Ahmed turned Hans around so he could scrub his back with a sponge.

"How much do you know about sex?" the boy asked over his shoulder.

"A little bit. I think--"

"What do you know about sex with boys?"

Ahmed paused his scrubbing to think. "With boys? Nothing. Not as a man anyway. But where I come from, males often get involved in that kind of thing and..."

"And you did?"

"Yeah. With some of my friends. The best was when I was twelve, right before we left Kabul, there was a boy-- A man, really...he was seventeen. Named Tahir. He taught me a lot. I really liked him."

"There's something you're holding back." Hans had turned around and was holding Ahmed's hand.

"I needed money when I got to Brisbane. Nawraz had arranged to pay the smugglers in full to get me here and give me papers, but I still had to eat. I was kind of cute back then, so it was easy once in a while to use what I knew with some local man in a public loo or a side street off the beach, you know?"

"Oh. I'm sorry you had to do that." The boy hugged him and pressed his wet cheek against Ahmed's torso, right under his beating heart. Then he looked up and smiled, saying, "I'm glad talking about street life hasn't made your cock go soft though."

Ahmed laughed. It was true. He was rock hard against Hans' belly. "That's because you're so sexy it's overpowering my body." He held Hans' head and gazed down into his bright blue eyes. "I'm serious. You are beautiful Hans. Whatever happens, don't doubt that."

"Thank you..." He smiled. " prince."

They started to wash off the lather and Hans again hefted Ahmed's cock. "I still want to play nasty with you."

"Right now?"

"Yeah. Don't you want me to suck you til you cum?"

"To be honest I probably wouldn't last long with how excited I am. It'd be bad for my image if you just made me shoot off."

"I don't care. I'm sure you'll have it up again in no time."

They were soap-free by now, just water on their skin. Hans turned off the nozzles and knelt on the rubber tiles of the floor, where he kissed the head of Ahmed's hard cock. Then he slurped it, sending a shiver all through the man. He groaned and rested a hand on Hans' shoulder as he was getting a bit light-headed. He could also feel a tickling, twitchy sensation behind his balls. He fought down his impending orgasm, letting Hans have his moment.

"Oh, wow, slow down or you'll make me cum."

But the boy was clearly going as slow as he could already, enjoying his exploration. He was licking around the head of Ahmed's cock, sending pulses of hard-to-resist inducement to splash a huge load of cum against his open lips. Hans took his time even after he'd had enough of licking and took the end of the cock into his mouth and began sucking. He bobbed his head forward only a minute bit more each time as he sent his lips sliding up and down the sensitive skin of Ahmed's cock, daring him to blast his nut into the boy's young mouth.

And the sight of it! Ahmed's brown cock looked so huge going into the kid's little mouth, which seemed obscenely stretched to take in its girth. And above that image, those child's eyes, blue and clear and full of want and need that seemed out of place on such an innocent-looking face.

"Ahhhh, you are just so cute, Hans. I can't get over how perfect you look with my cock in your mouth."

But this boy was no innocent. Ahmed remembered what he'd said about seeing twinks taking it hard. And he couldn't hold back anymore. He grabbed the back of Han's blond head and pressed forward, so his cock defeated Han's resistance. The boy was quick-witted enough to bring a fist up around the base of Ahmed's tool, but that left more than half of it to go into his hot, wet mouth. More than enough for the man to take his satisfaction.

"Suck that cock, you nasty little boy. Everyone thinks you're the perfect little prince, but I know what a cock hound you are. Take it all."

Hans' eyes showed his willingness to take on the job and Ahmed started sliding in and out of his suctioning mouth faster and faster. With each thrust, the boy's fist bumped against Ahmed's crotch and his own mouth, keeping them apart.

Unlike a porno of course, the mechanics of mouth fucking were quite complicated. Speed might look good on camera, but that required the guy doing the sucking to basically stay out of the way. Ahmed wanted to feel good. So he kept the pace to where Hans could keep his sucking going and work his tongue over and around the invading shaft. And Ahmed used his hands to keep the boy in position even as the constant 'knock-knock-knock' of his thrusts threatened to bump Hans off the cock he was so obviously enjoying.

The built-up excitement in Ahmed balls threatened to overflow his resilience and then flood outward. He stiffened and his butt cheeks clamped together as his hips and torso began to erratically sway.

Sensing his need, Hans drew back, letting go of Ahmed's shaft with a smacking sound. The boy kept his eyes on the cock before him as turned a little sideways to cough. That was the moment. The sight of the boy, his vulnerable face right there under the cannon of Ahmed's cock...Hans so overcome with the task that he was struggling to breathe, yet so eager to keep going that he was pumping the base of the man's cock with his little hands...prompted Ahmed to just start shooting.

The feel of the powerful jets starting at the base of his cock and pulsing out in long bullets was too much for Ahmed and his body was wracked by shuddering pleasure too intense to control. It was Hans who kept the end game in mind, keeping the spasming cock cradled in his hand as it fired off a half dozen huge blasts. Each one left a streak of thick white cream across the boy's amazed face and each time Ahmed saw his cum splatter against Hans' rosy cheek or ruby lips or smooth forehead, he groaned and fired again. Even after he had shot most of his load, the orgasm was unwilling to end, the sight of the kneeling cum-covered boy too good to let go. After another minute and countless more small squirts, Ahmed finally started to come down, his muscles relaxing, his mind unstretching back to normality.

Hans wiped his thumb under his chin to clean off a dollop of the man cream there. "Oh, man, this is amazing. You shot so much. I bet it looks awesome."

Ahmed looked him over. He had at least four rivulets of cum leaking down and a little pool of it under his right eye and on his top lip. There was cream spattered in two places on Hans' left ear and the hair at his temple. His red lips seemed even more conspicuous than ever now, in that sea of white. "It looks awesome, yes."

Hans slurped down the cum on his thumb, remembering to keep his face upturned as he swallowed. "Tastes awesome too." Then he made a face as if eating a sour lemon. "Okay, well not really, but it's awesome tasting it knowing it came from you."

He hooked a bit of cum dangling from his left earlobe and brought it towards his lips.

The door to the bathroom opened and Anders spoke. "Hans? You nearly done?"

Ahmed signaled him to get up, but the boy smiled and said, "Yes, Dad. We're in the shower. Almost done." Then he licked the glob of cum off his finger.

"Oh, Ahmed is there too?" asked Anders. "Good."

Good? Maybe he didn't have to worry. But then the man walked closer, right to the frosted glass door. Ahmed wondered how much he could see through the translucent material. There was his son, still on his knees, a man's cum streaking his face.

Ahmed's cum. There was no way to hide what he had done.

"I needed to speak to both of you," said Anders. "Ahmed, I think I have a way to keep you out of trouble for a little while, but you'll have to trust me and go along, okay?"

"Absolutely," said Ahmed through the closed door.

Hans reached for Ahmed's now very soft cock and licked the spot of cum leaking out the end. Despite his fear, Ahmed couldn't help but find the whole scene arousing too. His cock stiffened as the boy's father continued to speak. "Hans, I know you're all excited for your sleepover, but we'll have an early start in the morning and I need Ahmed ready to go at five, so no playing around tonight. Okay?"

"Sure thing, Dad." Hans smiled, stretching the cum sheen on his face.

"Straight to sleep."

"Yes, sir," Ahmed said. "I'll make sure of it."

"Glad to hear it. Good night, you two."

In shock, Ahmed went over the conversation in his head as Hans turned the water back on and washed away the cum coating his face. "Your dad just told me not to have sex with you. He didn't come out and say it, but that's what he meant. For sure." Ahmed shook his head worriedly. "He knew!"

"Of course he knew," said Hans, dismissively. "But he was telling me not to have sex with you. And he's fine with it after tonight, so no big deal."

They got dried off and Ahmed got into his robes while Hans put on his pyjamas. Ahmed left for his own room to brush his teeth and put on his own sleeping clothes. Should I go back? His dad clearly doesn't have a problem with us being a couple, but he also said no sex and the best way to be sure is if I stay away.

He took his time flossing and getting ready for bed, then stepped back out to the hallway. Hans' door was open and he was already settled in neck-deep under the covers. His mother was there, kissing him goodnight on the cheek. Ahmed looked away, embarrassed, as he remembered that same cheek glazed in his thick cum.

Christine met him at the door. She smiled at him then gave Hans a glance over her shoulder before turning back. "I'm so glad you two found each other. You seem to fit together just right for some reason."

"Thank you," Ahmed said. "For everything you're doing."

She hugged him around the waist. "Thank you for everything you mean to my son."

Then she flicked the overhead light off and left. Ahmed closed the door and made his way over to the bed using the light from the tabletop lamp. He slid in under the covers and rolled to face Hans.

The boy said, "I bet you and I are going to fit together really well once you put your dick in me." He reached over and felt Ahmed's crotch through the silk pyjamas. The warm, searching hand immediately made him pop a woody.

"Why are you so over-sexed?" asked Ahmed, pushing his hand away.

"Because I've got a sexy guy in my bed and the whole night to do whatever I want."

"Your father said no sex."

"So? He makes a lot of rules I don't obey." Hans slid closer under the covers and hugged Ahmed tight, laying his whole body up against the man. His whole naked body. He could feel the boy's smooth, firm body all over him and his first instinct was to moan and wrap his arms around him. His soft back and the rising curve of his butt felt white hot under Ahmed's hands. He began making slow, humping motions and against the boy's thighs before common sense regained a foothold in his mind.

"Oh, shit," said Ahmed, disentangling himself and pushing Hans back. "What are you trying to do to me?"

"I'm not trying. I've done it. I could feel your hard-on really well. You're ready to fuck me."

"I'm not fucking you. I'm not even going to touch you if you don't put your clothes back on."

Hans sat up, his bare chest and shoulders catching the light from the open window behind him."You're serious?"


"Just because my dad said not to?"

Ahmed snorted. "No. Because I said so. I don't know what's going on between us or what it's going to turn into, but it's about more than just wild fucking. There's serious stuff going on here too." He stroked the boy's skinny shoulder. "Isn't there?"

Hans was smiling at him.

"What?" Ahmed asked.

"It just-- I would still rather we fucked, but there's a part of me that's glad to hear you thinking ahead and to know that you don't just see me as a quick root." He leaned over and kissed Ahmed on the cheek, then he got out of bed and stood, gloriously nude in front of the full-length window facing the Pacific Ocean.

"What are you doing?!" Ahmed asked, pointing outside with an open palm.

"There's nobody out there."

"It's Mermaid Beach. There's always somebody out there."

"Then I hope they like butts!" He turned and bent over, hands to the floor and started swinging it in a figure-8.

"Don't do that!"

Hans stood up, his pajama bottoms in his hands. "I'm just getting my clothes from the floor like you told me to," he said with sarcastic sincerity.

"Get back in here." Ahmed lifted the covers for him.

"Sure. Anything-- Oh, wait, I forgot the top." He bent again to the carpet and shook his ass at the beach, the ocean, and the moon above before getting back into bed. Ahmed dropped the covers over him and he wiggled about putting his clothes on.

"You're the least dignified prince I've ever met," Ahmed muttered.

"But I'm also the cutest."

Sure that the boy was no longer naked, Ahmed stretched out and drew him into an embrace. "Yes, zargiya," he said, nibbling the top of Hans' ear, "you're the cutest." He spooned against the boy's back, arms encircling his stomach and ribs. He could feel the rise and fall of each breath as they lay together, watching the ocean waves float in from the horizon one after the other to the pale sands of the wide beach.

Hans shifted a bit to get more comfortable. Ahmed counter-shifted to accommodate him. The settled into a seamless fit, man and boy curled together.

For a few minutes they traded gentle kisses on the cheek and little finger caresses of each other's arms and then even that ceased.

Just as Ahmed was sure they were drifting into dreamland together, Hans said, "My cock is still really fucking hard. I'm never going to get to sleep." He guided Ahmed's hand to his crotch where the springy shaft poked his palm through the soft cloth. "See?"

Ahmed realized he needed to short-circuit this whole development if he was to get to sleep. He pulled away and rolled Hans onto his back. He pressed the boy down by the shoulders and hovered over him, looking into his eyes, which were still bright, even in the darkness. "My dear prince, I rescued you from the cold, wet hand of death to see you happy, not deprived of release and adventure. I consider it my duty to see that your needs are met and your inconveniences defeated."

"Are you saying you'll do it? You'll fuck me?"


Hans pouted in disappointment.

Ahmed said, "But I can do something about that little dragon in your pants." He leaned down and brushed his lips against Hans', then pressed closer for a full kiss. Their lips slid against each other and their tongues reached out, wet and eager in a dance of desire. With his left hand, Ahmed held Hans golden head close. He reached down with his right, past the elastic waistband of the pyjamas. He slid his hand under the cotton and stretched his fingers out to grasp the boy's little nail. Its warm hardness felt more textured and easier to grip now that it was dry. Hans moaned against his mouth and arched his back, pulling him closer.

Ahmed wanted to take the whole night to roll around like this, hands wandering, exploring and stimulating each other, but there was a clock ticking. He let go of Hans and the boy looked up in confusion, reaching for him as he raised up.

"Don't worry," Ahmed said, winking at him. "I'm not going far." He knelt between the boy's slim, splayed-out legs and gripped his hips. With a careful slide, he pulled the pyjama down to Hans' thighs. He licked his lips and then pulled the youngster's crotch to his face. He stretched out a tongue and licked a straight line from under his little nuts up to the base of the bobbing boydick and then along the stiff shaft to the head.

Hans twisted, his head and shoulders sliding around on the bed, and moaned in appreciation through his gritted teeth. Ahmed snagged the round end of the boy's tool with his lips and slid his tongue all the way around the outside of the flange, making a slow circle. Hans reached for him, trying to grasp his hair so he could pull Ahmed down more. He resisted and kept just the tip of the boy's pleasure stick in his mouth, slurping on it, enjoying the feel and flavour of it.

Hans had no choice but to let Ahmed take control and his hands fell to his side as he grunted in frustration. The youngster was poised now, Ahmed knew, drawing on his years of experience as a rentboy. He slid his lips slowly down and when he was close to the base of the thin shaft, he started a steady upward massage with the tip of his tongue, stroking along the underside of the sensitive and overloaded boydick.

"Uuuhhhhhhnn," cried Hans in surprise as his orgasm started. Ahmed pulled his tongue away and moved back to suck the head, keeping its sensitive tangle of nerves under attack by his clever pattern of sucking, slurping and squeezing.

Then the coup-de-grace: he stroked a fingertip around the outside of Hans' pucker and pressed in. He made sure to keep the pad of the finger up towards the immature prostate. The boy gasped and his body arched. When Ahmed's digit was just past the hot entrance of the boy's anus, he curved the finger in against the hard nub of his prostate and tickled it.

Hans' butt cheeks clenched. His teeth ground against each other. His breath keened out in strained pants. His body thrust up again and again against Ahmed's mouth. Hans' organ throbbed and shook as it dry-fired over and over, leaving a pleasant buzzing sensation on Ahmed's gripping lips.

He kept his suction going right through as the boy's spasms slowed and then ended. Then he let go and the cute boydick flopped into the smooth little balls below it.

"That was amazing," Hans said in a stunned voice.

"Got the naughtiness right out of that cock of yours, yeah?"

"I think you killed it," laughed Hans. He wiped his deflated prick clean of Ahmed's spit and pulled his pyjamas back up to his waist.

"Good," said Ahmed, sliding back into his place behind Hans' slim form. "Maybe now we can get some sleep."

Ahmed did sleep well most of the night. At random times, he would come awake from a pleasant dream of floating through cool, clear water to find himself back in the real world with Hans in his arms. Those little breaks were actually quite relaxing for his mind, and he would breathe in the fragrance of the boy's hair until he was floating into rich, pleasant dreams again. But it soured in the end. The usual images of his past appeared, orange flames, screeching and screaming, the smell of fear...and the sound of helicopter blades, like the beating wings of a vulture following him everywhere.

It was right before dawn when Hans shook him awake. Outside, a helicopter actually was sitting on the beach, its rotors spinning. This was a red and yellow tourist bird, not a gunship, but it still gave Ahmed chills.

"We have to go in that?" he asked Hans.

"What's the matter?"


They dressed and Hans tossed some clothes for him and Ahmed into a suitcase. The Little Merboy got put inside too, he noticed. When Ahmed went to pick the luggage up, however, Anders spoke from the doorway, "Leave that. Someone else will get it."

"It's okay," said Ahmed, a little put off by the idea of having servants do his work. "I put in all that time at the gym for a reason, right?"

"I need you for other things. Follow me."

Hans held Ahmed's hand and they went to the ground floor, where Anders led them to the gate in the side of the fence. It was open and a man in khakis and a golf shirt stood there.

"Ahmed," said Anders, "this is our friend and neighbour, Douglas. He'll be assisting us today. I need you to go with him and follow his instructions.

"You're not coming?" asked Hans.

"Your mother and I will be taking the helicopter with the girls later. And the suitcases. Once the police and immigration folks have made sure Ahmed's not on board."

"Oh," said Hans, smiling, "this is a trick. Cool."

Douglas shook hands with Ahmed and ushered them through the house to an underground garage where a Cadillac was waiting. He and Hans settled in the back seat and Douglas drove them out to the street on the other side of the house from the beach. There were no reporters or protestors and the one police car was deserted. Ahmed saw two men carrying a TV camera through the parking lot towards the beach.

With a smooth, unhurried turn Douglas got them to the end of the block and turned west, heading inland. The passed a shadowy figure at the side of the road and as it grew in clarity, Ahmed gasped. "What?" asked Hans after they went by.

"That was my brother. That was Nawraz."

"We can't stop," said Douglas as they picked up speed.

Ahmed turned and watched the dwindling shape of his brother through the rear window.

"I'm sorry," said Hans. "But if he must have seen your face on the news so he knows your new last name and he'll find you again, right?"

Ahmed sat and wiped tears away. "Yeah. I suppose."

Hans hugged his bicep in his now familiar way and said, "Don't worry about it, Ahmed. Just keep being strong."

"I'm not worried. I'm crying because I'm happy he made it out of the camp. This whole time, I've been afraid he was still in there."

In an hour, they had driven north to Moreton Bay, and through the gates of a private marina, where Ahmed found himself looking at one of the strangest ships he had ever seen. The hull was stainless steel and the bow looked like an upright hatchet blade dotted with large windows. It was at least 250 feet long with two stacks of long windows taking up most of the side and a tiered stern that dropped off to the water. At the front, the name of the ship was written: Kilkea

"You like it?" Hans asked as they got out of the car. He was smiling his broad, happy smile.

Ahmed couldn't think of what to say and went back to staring at the vessel.

"It's a research vessel the royal foundation owns. So basically we own it, but it spends most of its time doing ocean research. We knew we'd be here for Christmas this year, so dad made sure they scheduled a port call so we could use it for some fun."

The feeling that had been coming to Ahmed from time to time since meeting Hans, that sense of being out of his depth and that this family was part of a different world from his, hit him like a gut punch.

Douglas patted him on the back and said, "Don't look so worried, kid. It's just going to be a little jaunt out and back. And it's safe."

"Uh, okay." He faced the man and added, "Thanks again."

"No problem. Go enjoy your little cruise and I'll see you again once everything blows over."

They had no luggage, so the porter simply took them up to have breakfast in the captain's dining room. The table was set up on the floor below the actual bridge, with a forward view.

The ship cast off within minutes of them getting aboard and headed out towards the rising sun. Standing together, Ahmed and Hans watched the ocean go by, ignoring the food set up behind them.

"So, where are we going?"

"We're going to hide out while dad figures the best way to handle things. We were going to take a trip out to the reef this week anyway, so we're just moving things up on the schedule a bit."

"The Barrier Reef?" Ahmed asked in awe.

"Yeah, Heart's Reef to be exact. It's a restricted area, but we're technically a research vessel so we have a permit for diving. And it's outside Australian territorial waters, so dad must figure you're out of reach here."

"Diving? Oh, man."


"The reason Nawraz brought me to Australia is that I was crazy about water. I found these National Geographics at this street corner library after we were on our own, and some of them had pictures from Australia and I'd just gaze into them wishing I could just evaporate over to where the photos were. There were sharks and fish in the reef and kangaroos and sheep farms and cricket at the Gabba, surfers, the opera house, moray eels, sailboats, dolphins... I told Nawraz that if Allah ever blessed our life, Australia was where we would end up."

Ahmed held back from mentioning the other reason he had been obsessed with Australia: many of the picture essays in the magazines featured cute light-haired boys with blue or grey eyes that seemed exotic and exquisite to him. (Later, he would meet many men on the streets of Australia who found Ahmed's eyes and skin enchanting and otherworldly, so it was probably just a case of the grass being more beautiful on the other side, but the effect was still real.) He dreamed of a blond boy to call his own. And he'd had a few. Some were his fellow street hustlers. Later it had been twinks he had met on Grindr or he had caught admiring his muscles at the gym. But none of his lovers had truly captured that sense of sunny happiness the magazine boys had promised until Hans.

Ahmed said, "I've seen cricket at the Gabba and been to Sydney and visited a sheep farm and even ridden in a sailboat a few times, and it was all great, but I never thought I'd actually get to see the reef."

"Then this is the perfect ship for you. We've got diving gear, a deep-sea submersible, an underwater observation deck...You want to go check it out?"

But just then the captain showed up. Her name was Captain Lange and, with the ship out of the north channel and underway in the open ocean, she had come to keep her guests company for a little while. She hosted them for a large and delicious breakfast while they talked of her previous expeditions to Greenland, the Antarctic and of course, the Great Barrier Reef.

Then the rest of Hans' family showed up, leading to much settling in and lack of privacy, even with the ship's large compartments and lounges.

Hans and Ahmed spent the afternoon in the research spaces with the scientists and techs who were working on the submersible and the scanners. Then he was pulled into family dinner where he and Hans' parents and sisters continued to bond. They were kindhearted and friendly people and they made Ahmed sitting with his 10-year-old lover at his side feel natural and shame-free.

But the possibility of any sex that night was dead and buried when Anders told him he needed to do an interview with a consulate officer who had just flown in, to set up their strategy going forward. It took three hours for him to answer all the questions, have his photo and fingerprints taken and then answer more questions.

He spent the night happily holding Hans, who had been asleep when he got to bed.

The sunlight through the wide cabin window illuminated the naked boy entwined in his sheets the next morning and Ahmed was immediately hard and ready to plunder his firm and no doubt tight ass. But Christine knocked at the door right about then and told them to come get breakfast before they all went snorkeling.

The morning was magical even without sex. They carefully explored the heart-shaped coral formation that had given the reef its name and saw wonders together in the blue-water. Ahmed was not sure what was more special, being in this place of dreams or being here with Hans at his side. The boy was himself a wonder, moving like a fish in just his speedos and flippers, his slim, toned body reflecting the underwater light playfully.

The had lunch back on the Kilkea, sitting in their swimsuits under a canopy on the rear balcony. It was tuna sushi with real wasabi imported from Japan as well as California rolls (which Anders considered sacrilegious, but which the kids loved.)

"Mom?" Hans asked as they were finishing up the meal. "Would it be okay if Ahmed and I stay here while you guys go back to snorkeling? I wanted to show him the observation deck."

"Sure," said Christine, keeping her voice even despite the knowing smile on her face.

They took their ice cream with them in blizzard cups so it wouldn't melt. The observation deck was actually a ten-foot-wide, flattened tube of ribbed glass that slid out of the back of the ship and was towed along, submerged just under the surface. Once they were free of the mother ship, it was almost like floating in the ocean by themselves. Hans turned off the operation lights and the deck went dark, focusing their eyes on the sunlit sea outside. There was a strip of carpeted floor with large rectangular cushions for seats, but they stayed standing as they glided through the swirling ocean life. The front bubble especially gave a panoramic view towards the sea floor through the clear water. They shared a cushion up front, watching the mysteries of the sea reveal themselves.

But a small hand on his forearm drew Ahmed's attention away after a little while. Hans gently pried the half cup of ice cream from him (he had already gobbled down his own) and they faced each other. The boy's expression was thoughtful and expectant. There was no doubt in Ahmed's mind about what was about to happen.

He kissed Hans on his forehead, stroking his tousled golden hair. "You sure you want this?"

Hans set the cup on the floor. "I didn't put us on an isolated, submerged deck in the middle of the ocean for nothing."

Ahmed nodded and stroked Hans' naked shoulder. It was soft and smooth and just slightly sprinkled with freckles brought out by their morning in the sun. "I've dreamed of a boy like you my whole life."

Hans bit his lip and took a breath, facing upward for the kiss he was expecting. Ahmed kept him waiting just a bit as he admired the boy's cute face, taking in the details of his little nose and finely rounded ears and his Elfin chin.

He leaned down and kissed Hans firmly, leaning his head to one side so they could press right up against each other. Hans kissed back, tongue reaching through his wet lips to flick against Ahmed's. The man stroked along Hans' flanks, up the inward curve from his hips to his ribs and then to his shoulder. The pressure of his larger, muscled body against the boy's small still-developing form pressed Hans back until he was laid out on the cushion. There was enough space for him to lie back comfortably, his legs dangling off the edge.

Ahmed pulled back and looked down at Hans. He lowered his lips and licked across the boy's rosy lips and then repeated the action with the tip of Hans' nose.

Hans laughed. "Stop fooling around. We only have so much time before the oxygen runs out."

"Wait, really?" Ahmed looked around at the tons of water outside the glass. "How much?"

"Relax, it's a joke. The deck has a snorkel."

"You're being naughty, Hans. You know what naughty boys get?"

"A spanking?" He smiled eagerly and rolled over onto his chest. "Warm up my butt with your hand. Get me all hot and horny."

"I think your problem is you need cooling down. And I know just how to do it."

"What are you going to--?" Recognition dawned in his eyes. "Oh, no. No!"

Ahmed pressed his left forearm onto the lower part of Hans' back, keeping him pinned as he struggled to wriggle away. With his other hand, he yanked down the boy's speedos, his only bit of clothing, leaving him naked and open to attack.

"Ahmed, don't. I swear, you'll--"

Ahmed thumbed the lid of his ice cream cup off and then poured some of the cold goop right on the top of Hans' squirming butt crack.

"Aaahhhhh!" protested the boy.

"Hold still." Ahmed knelt on the floor behind Hans and pulled his butt right to the edge of the cushion. He watched the creamy white stuff slide downward to the boy's tight little pucker and then lower to his round, hairless balls. For a moment, he imagined the ice cream as a huge load of cum coating the boy's backside and his cock pressed painfully against his swim shorts as it sprung to maximum hardness.

Keeping the boy still with his hands on his firm, round butt cheeks, Ahmed dived in. He got ice cream on his nose as he whipped his tongue against the back of Hans' balls and licked his way up, cleaning away all the vanilla flavour as he moved inexorably to the boy's pucker.

"Man," he said, just as he arrived at his destination, "I knew you'd have a sweet ass, Hans, but this is really tasty."

"Just keep licking," said Hans.

"Yes, your highness."

He dug his tongue into the butthole, not getting far against its natural tightness. He added a finger, stretching the opening gently with circular motions and using his tongue to lick at the exposed pinkness. Slowly, the boy got looser, moaning as he was gradually penetrated and prepared. Ahmed was able to get his tongue right up his chute, with his lips pressed against the now pliant hole.

When he knew that he would be able to get inside without trouble, he finally broke off his rimming and pulled his shorts off. His cock was leaking strands of shiny precum from how eager he was to get it into Hans.

The boy saw this and said, "Sit. Let me get you ready too."

They traded places, with Ahmed sitting at the edge and Hans kneeling on the floor, head down as he sucked the man's thick cock, dripping his saliva all over it in an attempt to get the shaft slicked up. The warmth of his young mouth and the pressure from his eager lips was a double dose of erotic stimulation that had the veins and shaft of Ahmed's cock pulsing with pleasure.

The boy pulled away and his eyes flashed to the bubble window behind Ahmed. "Is that a Humboldt Squid? It's got to be three metres!"

Ahmed knew it was a trick, but the instinct to look was too great. He turned just as he felt the splash of the remaining ice cream on his crotch. Before he could wipe it away, Hans had taken his whole tool in his mouth, clamping his lips around the shaft as his tongue churned the cold mush coating Ahmed's cock.

"Ahh! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!" he shouted as he squirmed and bucked.

"Thhdf whegt ooh gmdt!" said Hans triumphantly as he slurped the liquifying ice cream down.

"I'm going all soft now!" It was true. The shock of the cold had triggered an emergency contraction of the previously stiff shaft.

"Ah, don't worry about that," said Hans, standing. "You'll be back in action really fast I'm sure. He leaned down and held Ahmed's face. They kissed and Ahmed rested his hands on the top of the boy's magnificent boy butt, stroking its smooth curve with his fingers.

The closeness of the boy's warm body, the feel of his silky skin, the taste of his tender lips, the sound of his deep breathing...Ahmed got hard and leaking quickly, just as Hans had predicted.

"Oh, man, Hans, I've got to have you. Right now."


Ahmed tightened his hold on Hans' torso and turned them around, so the boy was lying on his back. He hovered over Hans' slim body as it lay stretched out under him. He gulped at the sheer sensuality of the boy lying there, Hans' readiness to be taken obvious from his hard little dick.

Resting an elbow on the cushion, Ahmed brought his body down on top of Hans, who spread his legs then brought them back to hug the man's torso. Ahmed reached down with his free hand to set the head of his cock against the boy's waiting hole. He felt his blunt tip settled in the notch of the pucker and a thrill of anticipation ran through him, making him groan.

"Oh, I can't wait. I've got to have you."

Hans looked up with a nervous smile and gripped the back Ahmed's biceps with his hands. He nodded permission.

With a steady push, Ahmed worked his wide cockhead into the boy's tight hole, powering through the resistance of his ring muscle and popping inside.

"Unnghh," gasped Hans, a look of panic flashing over his face before he settled into a calm discomfort.

The heat and squeezing walls of Hans' passage nearly made Ahmed explode right then. He took a few sharp breaths to get himself under control.

"Oh, that feels so good." He looked down at Hans, who was gritting his teeth. "You okay?"

"I'll be fine. Just getting used to the whole thing."

"You don't have the whole thing yet, zargiya. But I plan to give it to you..."

Taking his time, Ahmed searched forward with his questing cock, using little rocking motions to claim more and more territory as he explored the joy-filled temple of Hans back passage. As he thrust, he looked into his young lover's eyes, sending his feelings of tenderness and care silently and receiving the same in return. They started moving together, Hans' expression shifting from hesitant acceptance to appreciative discomfort as Ahmed moved deeper and deeper into him.

"I'm almost there, Hans. You feel so gooood." Ahmed strained to get the words out of his throat as he concentrated on his motion. "Almost there..."

The boy's rectum was squeezing and resisting all the way as Ahmed worked his way in, sinking his cock at last into the object of his desire, the golden-haired prince of his dreams. He brushed some of that hair away from Hans' sweaty brow and kissed the boy on the forehead.

"That's all of me," said Ahmed. He thrust once, grinding his crotch against Hans' ass cheeks to illustrate his point. "I can't believe I'm in you. You're so amazing, zargiya.

"Don't...Don't stop."

Ahmed drew back, raising his ass enough to pull almost all the way out. The backstroke was delicious for his cock as the dragging of his corona against the boy's insides sent thrills through him. Just as he was at the exit, he paused and reversed direction, sinking all the way back in a fluid stroke of restrained hunger.

Hans' blue eyes sprung open in response and he initially pushed up on Ahmed, trying to get him away, before surrendering to his impalement and gripping the man's arms tight as he hung on through the downstroke. He gasped in relief and contentment as Ahmed reached his full depth.

Eager to repeat the sensations of stroking into Hans, Ahmed pulled out just a little faster this time and pushed back in harder than before, ooohing in satisfaction. Soon he was driving himself in with firm, steady strokes, each one a rush of physical pleasure as his cock drove its way through the boy's resisting flesh, accompanied by a wet, slapping sound.

But the best gratification for Ahmed was in his head, knowing he had found this beautiful boy. Knowing he was in control. Knowing he was inside Hans, able to do whatever he wanted. Being allowed that much power and closeness only confirmed the sense of connectedness he had felt with this boy from the first moment they saw each other. Hans was the prince for him, no doubt about it.

Motion outside the bubble canopy caught his eye. He froze, then pulled back quietly, freeing his cock from Hans. "Turn around," he said, happy.

"What is it?"

Outside, a dozen large manta rays had joined the deck in formation, swimming along with their white and black bodies flashing in the golden rays of the sunlight.

"Awesome," said Hans, watching the spectacle.

"Yeah." Ahmed bent Hans forward so that his round ass presented itself. The boy was too short to kneel with his belly on the cushion, so his knees hovered over the floor. Ahmed squatted behind the boy and re-entered him with no difficulty. All he got from Hans was a long, slow whimper of satisfaction. He wasted no time getting back to speed. They were back in rhythm, going at a brisk pace, the only changes really being that Ahmed seemed to be getting deeper into Hans's backside and the wet, slapping sounds had changed to wet, shloopy noises.

Ahmed leaned forward and grasped Hans' tiny waist. He held tight and used the leverage to make his thrusts even more forceful, not trying to go too fast, but making each inward thrust penetrate as deep as it could. All around them sparkled the brilliant blue-green waters of the Pacific. In front of them, the graceful motions of the mantas kept rhythm with Ahmed and Hans' coordinated grinding and thrusting. Hans gave a soft "oooh," at the end of each stroke letting Ahmed know he had hit the magic depth.

And the magic spot too, apparently. After a little while, Hans' body stiffened and his tight ring clamped down on the sliding length of Ahmed's thick, brown cock.

Hans' voice became high-pitched and loud as he shuddered through his orgasm. His grasping, hot hole writhing on Ahmed's tool set the man off too. Ahmed set his feet into the ground as the feelings built up in him. He looked at the firm white ass below him, and the sight of it being repeatedly violated by his dark flesh, which enhanced all the sensations of sliding his cock in and out of his boy prince's juicy back channel.

Ahmed's control broke down and he started ramming faster and more erratically into Hans. He was slamming so hard into him that the cushion threatened to lift off the ground under Hans. Ahmed pressed down harder on Hans' back, leaning all his weight onto him as he kept making deep spearing motions into the boy's ass.

The sense of closeness and the last squeezing spasms of Hans' orgasm brought a surge of ecstasy that started in the base o Ahmed's spine and burst through his body. He let his hips fly and spurted load after load of his sperm right into the depths of his golden prince. Ahmed rocked into him until he had nothing left to give and the last shiverings of his climax died away.

Panting wordlessly, he covered the smooth body of his young lover, stroking his hair and kissing his neck and shoulders. They remained motionless for a few minutes, enjoying the closeness of their bodies, communicating with low moans the affection and tenderness they felt in their after-sex glow.

When the mantas finally broke formation and went their own ways, Ahmed reluctantly got to his feet. He pulled Hans up and they had a final naked embrace. He kissed the boy and said, "That was amazing. Like I was having my first time all over again."

Hans kissed him right above the heart, on one of his wide pecs and said, "I'm glad it was you, Ahmed. This was special. I'm glad it was you who pulled me from the ocean. I'm glad it was you with me today."

They said nothing more, because after speaking of the past and the present the only thing to mention was the future and that scared them. Ahmed used his wet trunks to clean up the spills of ice cream from the floor and cushion and made sure no evidence of their tryst was left behind. Then he dressed and watched the ocean for a while, Hans cuddled in Ahmed's lap.

The intercom buzzed to let Anders' voice in when it was time for them to go back and join the family. They stayed at each other's side for the rest of the day and made love twice more that night in their shared cabin.

In the light of morning, they joined the family for breakfast in one of the lounges near the stern. The top of the observation deck was visible through the rear window and when they saw it Ahmed and Hans shared a conspiratorial look before sitting to eat.

"Hold on," said Hans. "The sun is on the wrong side of the ship."

"We're heading back," said Christine.

"To Brisbane?" Ahmed asked, alarmed.

"Yes. We've found a way to work this out."

"You have?!" asked Hans. "What?"

"We're going to use a royal decree to make Ahmed one of our citizens. We have used it I should say.

"But I thought you were just figureheads," said Ahmed, "with no real power."

"Well, there are a few ceremonial powers. One of them is appointing knighthoods. Usually to CEOs and doctors and lawyers. They have to be citizens first, but there's one exception."

"The King's Royal Guard," said Hans.

"Right," said Christine. "The king has the prerogative to appoint anyone to his bodyguard at any time and that person becomes a citizen." She held Ahmed's hand from across the table. "We know how you feel about Hans, so we don't think we were being presumptuous in making you his personal bodyguard."

"My bodyguard?" Hans said scornfully. "I don't need a body--" Then his eyes popped open at the implications and he smiled more brightly than the morning sun. "Oh, mother, I think if my bodyguard is to do his job to his best ability, he should sleep in my room."

"You wish!" said Anna.

"It wouldn't work, Hans," his father told him. "For a lot of reasons. But we'll make sure he's right down the hall...if he accepts the job."

They all turned to look at Ahmed.

"But I...I mean...Won't I have to leave Australia then? My brother...Nawraz is still here somewhere. I can't just--"

"Two things," said Anders. "First, you now have a diplomatic passport as part of the king's staff so you can travel back and forth like we do. Second, our lawyer made contact with Nawraz. He's had quite the adventure himself. Escaped the smugglers, got lost in the outback, rescued by an aborigine girl, then got married to her. Bottom line is he's a legal Aussie citizen now and you're an uncle to two nieces."

"Oh...well that's unexpected." Ahmed smiled at everyone. "I'm an uncle!"

"They're all going to be at the dock to greet you when we get to port."

Hans got up from his stool and stood at Ahmed's side. "Ahmed, please say you'll stay."

"Of course I'll stay." He held Hans' cheeks and kissed his forehead. "Zargiya"

"You keep calling me that. What does it mean?"

Ahmed looked around the table sheepishly then he squeezed Hans' hand. "It's hard to translate exactly, but it means 'my precious one who is my little heart.'"

All the females let out an "Awwww," simultaneously.

Hans just hugged Ahmed tight. "Thank you, Ahmed. For everything."

And, outside, the golden sun rose into the sky as Ahmed and his new family sailed on.

The End



---A lifeguard at Mermaid Beach did really save a young prince not too long ago. You can Google it if you want. The story you just read is all fictional speculation of course.

---Gold has a sister story called Magenta, which was posted earlier this year. It features an inverted setup, i.e. a rich white Australian man and a poor brown boy, set on the subcontinent.

---As far as I know, there is no storybook of The Little Merboy, but if you've seen one, I'm interested to hear about it.

---The Kilkea is a real ship currently under construction and available for purchase. It's a 'luxury exploration' vessel full of al kinds of toys. Princes not included.

---Comments on this story are welcome. Even if you're reading this in an archive years from now, I'd love to hear what you think.

---I'm always looking for folks to help me with proofreading. (Nothing heavy, just catching typos etc). If you're willing to help, let me know.
December, 2017

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