Author: Ravengirl
Rating: NC-17(overall)
Pairing: 1x2 (duh, this is me)
Spoilers: Hell, no.
Warnings (overall): AU, mythos/fantasy, yaoi/shounen-ai, OOC(due to the story), random lime, eventual M/M lemon, general weirdness
Disclaimer: GW and the boys are mine... and I also have a very nice bridge you might like to buy. *snicker*

A/N: I'm about to date myself... as if I haven't done it a hundred times already. This tale is loosely inspired by a relatively old, very silly movie by the name of 'Splash'... yeah, *that* one. But, I stress, only *very* loosely. I've always loved two myths occasionally associated with Heero x Duo: the tenshi and the akuma, and -- even less typically -- the human and the merboy. 'Wet' is my version of the latter. And remember, people, it's pure fantasy. Let go your hold on reality for a while, and welcome to my world...

// = direct thought
:: = mindspeech

Wet + Part 1

:: 1 ::

"Why are we here?"

"Ocean fishin', kid. Nothing better than watching the sun come up over the Cape."

"It's too early, though. And wet. And it makes absolutely no sense! If we want fish, we can get that at five different seafood markets."

Odin Lowe glanced over at the son he almost never saw and had lost touch with emotionally long ago. Heero was fifteen now, and not likely to take direction from a captain of the Coast Guard who was a) divorced from his mother and b) never there. He sighed silently. So much for bonding.

"Look, Heero," he said, voice resigned, "I know you don't want to be here... and I know you don't particularly like me. But do this for your Mom, huh? She doesn't want to feel like she's taken you away from me."

He glanced at the silent boy whose features were so like those of Kirei Yuy, the woman he still loved. The woman who refused to live with his relentless wanderlust.

Heero looked up, and Odin found his own eyes staring back at him from a delicate, Japanese-featured face.

"For Mom," the boy said gravely, before turning his gaze back towards the gentle ripples of calm, early-morning ocean.

+

He thought of himself as Heero Yuy. Though Odin Lowe had provided half his genetic material, he felt little connection and much hostility towards the man standing opposite him in the Water Witch's roomy confines.

His mother had never spoken one ill word of Odin, but over the years, Heero had often heard her quiet weeping... especially on those nights his father should have been home, but wasn't.

There was always some extenuating circumstance. As an active officer in the Coast Guard, Captain Lowe had any number of excuses for not being where he should, when he ought.

At seven, Heero started to question his mother's explanations. By the time he was ten, she'd filed for divorce. At fifteen... well, he had little use for men outside his mother's brother, Jei.

These father/son outings were to be tolerated for Kirei's sake, nothing more.

Plopping down on the padded bench at the Witch's stern, Heero leaned against the hull, gazing moodily out over slight waves. The boat was barely moving and their wake was minimal, leaving the surrounding ocean clear. The dawn sank golden fingers into unfathomable depths and the resulting chiaroscuro mesmerized the teen who watched.

So fascinated by clear motes in dark water, he almost missed the flicker of movement within them. Then shimmering patterns resolved themselves into scintillating fins and iridescent skin and Heero stared, not believing what sight declared to be true.

A creature of pure myth gazed back at him, eyes wide with wonder, graceful limbs and long, fish-like tail moving languidly through darkly translucent liquid. A lengthy braid snaked around the slender body, undulating with the ocean's inner currents.

He shook his head once, trying to clear his vision, but the mer-creature below remained, looking up at him. A small, slim hand rose, waved, and a tentative smile curved a generous mouth. Dark eyes blinked curiously at him and the heart-shaped face tilted to one side... an unspoken question.

Biting his lip, Heero darted a quick peek upwards at Odin. The man was firmly ensconced in the cockpit, gaze fixed on the horizon. Turning his eyes back to the alien boy -- for a boy he was -- Heero shook his head just slightly. No one else was looking.

The boy's smile widened into a gamine grin as -- to Heero's delight -- he turned a complicated set of loops through the water. The dark-haired human grinned right back at the fascinating being beneath him.

He watched his new acquaintance swim lazily alongside the boat for a while, exchanging occasional gestures and smiles. The boy got steadily closer and closer, until finally a seal-sleek head breached the water-line, and Heero was mere feet away from a creature logic dictated could not exist.

The merchild's first breath was a gasp as his lungs converted from water to air inhalation. He clung to the swim-ladder on the side of the boat, panting quietly as Heero watched anxiously from his perch.

"You okay down there, kid?"

Both boys froze at the sound of Lowe's voice and Heero whipped his head around to make sure his father was still at his station.

"Fine. Just watching the water."

"I'm gonna drop anchor and cast a line. You're welcome to join me," Lowe said in an even tone.

"No thank you, Sir," Heero replied politely. If nothing else, his mother had instilled perfect manners in her only son. "I think I'll stay back here."

"Suit yourself."

Heero waited until Lowe was settled in the bow of the boat -- feet propped on the railing, rod beside him, a cigar clamped between his teeth -- before turning his attention elsewhere.

Lowering his gaze, he found enormous violet eyes locked worriedly on him. It's okay, he mouthed, smiling at the beautiful merchild. He couldn't say whether the other boy understood the words, but his smile apparently conveyed reassurance.

Anxiety vanished from bright eyes, a happy curve returning to the mobile mouth. Scooting as close as possible to the braided boy's hand-hold, Heero leaned over the side, extending his arm. Moments later lean, warm fingers slid over his palm, twining themselves with his own.

/He's real! He's really there! I'm not imagining this!/

Cautiously reaching out with his other hand, he brushed his fingertips against a smooth cheek, tucked a strand of water-dark hair behind a shell-like ear. The merboy made a purring noise, nuzzling against stroking fingers.

"You're amazing," Heero whispered almost soundlessly and was rewarded with a blinding grin. "Do you... understand me?"

A nod and another grin.

"I'm Heero."

The other boy rolled the name soundlessly around on his tongue, trying out the shape of it. Then, to Heero's astonishment, a -- sound? thought?? -- echoed within the confines of his head.

:Duo:

He stared at the silent boy who looked so hopefully up at him, bluish-purple eyes begging him to accept what he did not understand. Taking a deep breath, he softly asked,

"You're Duo?"

The pointed chin dipped in assent and the smile reappeared, even brighter than before. Heero returned it without hesitation. There was nothing rational about this entire situation. He would take Duo as he came and let the inevitable questions lie. Curiosity was, after all, an overrated trait... look what it had done to the cat.

Slight fingers wrapped more firmly around his and he relaxed into the boat's rocking motion with a contented sigh. Heero Yuy wasn't intimately familiar with happiness, but he rather thought it might feel something like this.

Later, he wasn't sure how long they stayed like that, hands entwined, just looking at each other, but eventually Duo straightened, head cocked as though listening to a far-off sound, and reluctantly released Heero's fingers. Turning regretful amaryllis eyes on his new friend, he gestured towards the open sea.

"You have to go?" Heero murmured and the merboy nodded.

Brushing his hand lightly along Heero's arm in farewell, he shoved away from the rudder he'd propped himself against and -- with a small smile -- disappeared beneath the ocean's restless surface.

Heero's chest grew tight and he felt his little-used tear-ducts sting just a bit. Then a lithe, opalescent tail-fin popped from the water and waved pertly at him before vanishing once more.

Up on the bow, Odin Lowe woke with a start at an unusual sound. Puzzled, he pushed to his feet, ready to go check on Heero, then froze abruptly, having identified the noise.

For the first time in recent memory, his son was laughing.

+

That day was Heero's initial encounter with the aquatic-dwelling creature who would become his best friend, but it wasn't the last by a long shot.

Odin Lowe was both surprised and pleased to discover that his previously distant son had developed a love for the ocean. Not just any piece of it either... Heero's new interest was confined to the waters off the Cape.

A loner by nature, Odin preferred his own company on his personal craft, but found Heero to be an undemanding companion. The boy rarely spoke, simply adding his quiet presence to rolling waves, crying gulls, and the scent of the sea Odin loved so well.

Heero did have an odd habit of reading aloud to himself, but the low murmur of his voice was pleasant and barely within audible range. All in all, it was a more-than-acceptable arrangement, with the added benefit that it pleased Kirei Yuy to see her former husband and beloved child reforming the bond that had disintegrated with time.

It pleased Odin that he was able to please the woman he still considered his mate, to say nothing of gaining the opportunity to spend more time with her. At forty-five years of age, Odin Lowe had had enough solitude in one respect. He wanted his wife and son back and was prepared to demonstrate that fact to both of them.

Heero was beyond pleased, but his joy had little to do with either of his parents. Like his father, he did not find the company of most people worth pursuing, so the advent of a real friend in his life was a new and wondrous thing... and such a friend!

Human boys did not have sleek, glistening skin of seafoam or feathery tail-fins that could swipe your legs out from under you. No land-bound teen he knew possessed eyes of laughing violet and a braid of thick chestnut hair nearly as long as they were tall.

And no human -- child or adult, male or female -- could speak mind-to-mind with the merest brush of skin against skin.

As soon as the heavy afternoon sun sent Odin to sleep, Heero was over the side of the boat and in Duo's world. The minute his fingers touched his friend's he could hear Duo's thoughts. And the instant the merboy's mouth met his -- water streaming from one set of lips to another -- Heero could breathe the ocean as if it was air.

They never went that deep or swam very far from the boat. Luckily, Odin liked his privacy enough to get farther out than many leisure-fishermen bothered going, so the possibility of being seen was almost nil.

Odin, himself, they watched like a pair of young peregrines tracking a particularly wary rodent.

Lowe expected Heero to spend time in the Atlantic -- it was summer, after all, the heat of the sun made that much more intense by the water's reflective qualities -- but he preferred Heero not to leave the boat's immediate surrounds

"That's what the damn swim-ladder's there for, kid! Hang on it and cool off, swim a little, just don't go diving or anything else stupid. Your mom'd have my ass if something happened to you. And hey... I wouldn't be too pleased, either."

Giving Heero's perpetually messy hair a ruffle, he'd received a startled look from his son and a very small smile that he took for assent. More fool he.

All in all, the hot months passed quietly: Odin and Kirei in blissful ignorance and Heero and Duo in fascinated discovery. This unnaturally peaceful state could not last, though, and at the end of August, Murphy stepped in to prove his universal law dreadfully correct.


:: 2 ::

Duo stirred sleepily in Heero's arms, muscles flowing easily in a long stretch. They'd attached themselves to the swim-ladder on the Witch's shady side, resting after an underwater race. It was so lovely to lay here against each other, half in water/half in air, tail and legs twined together.

Looking up at his friend through slitted eyes, the merboy couldn't help but smile.

Heero was just so beautiful. He'd thought so since that months-ago moment he'd first seen the human youth gazing over the side of this small cruiser.

He'd been out early that morning, ditching class to indulge in his favorite pastime: people watching. It had been late spring, then, the sea-traffic around the Cape not so heavy. He'd followed the private pleasure-craft since it was headed for an unpopulated area... he liked to observe humans, but had no desire to be seen by one.

That had changed the instant he'd looked up through the water into Heero's deep-ocean eyes.

His father and older brother condemned his hobby as both reckless and dangerous. If they ever caught him on one of his excursions, he'd be in major hot water. It was worth taking the chance, though. Heero was worth that and so much more...

:Awake?:

Humming happily at Heero's mental voice, Duo wriggled, enjoying the feel of their equally smooth, water-slick skin rubbing together.

:I am now. Mmm. Like this. Like you:

:Like you too: was the amused reply.

Duo wasn't quite sure why he liked to touch and be touched so much when it came to Heero... he just did. It had never been that way with any of his other friends... maybe it was because Heero was human instead of mer?

Then there was the fact that without contact, Heero could not hear him. And without Duo's breath, Heero's lungs wouldn't function underwater.

That thought momentarily paralyzed the braided mer. Living beings were such frail, easily damaged things, and human water-vehicles were by no means infallible. The oceans were littered with the evidence of that.

What if Heero went out on the water sometime when Duo wasn't there and a storm blew in? What if he got caught in a rip? What if-?

:Hey. I can swim by myself, you know. I just have to keep my head above water most of the time:

Propping his elbows on the rung just above Heero's shoulders, Duo searched his friend's eyes.

:The ocean is not kind or just, Heero. You cannot trust her:

:I know, I know: Heero sighed. :Your mom died during a hurricane and storms freak you out, big-time. But Duo... I'm fine. We're really not that far out and Odin'll radio for help if we need it. Besides, he's career Coast Guard... prepared is his middle name. Speaking of... he up yet?:

Not protesting the change in subject, Duo stretched his senses wide to encompass the boat. The blue-green spark that was Heero's father appeared quiescent, with only a few brief flares of cognizance that quickly subsided.

Looking up at Heero, Duo shook his head.

:Still out:

:Good:

Pulling Duo's head back down to his shoulder, the dark-haired teen idly stroked the mer's long, silken braid.

:Ever thought about cutting it?:

:What?!: Duo's mental signature was indignant. :Why would I want to? I like my hair!:

A low laugh thrummed in Heero's throat.

:Kidding, baka. I wouldn't want you to, anyway. 'S beautiful...:

:Think so?:

The mer's tone was arch.

:Know so:

Tilting his friend's chin up, Heero gazed into laughing violet.

"You're beautiful," he breathed aloud, and leaned down to touch his mouth to Duo's.

It was the merest brush of lips, but as Heero pulled back, Duo stared at him out of wide, unblinking eyes. Unsteady fingers rose to cover the place Heero's mouth had touched.

:Why... why did you do that?: the mer asked, sounding dazed.

:I'm sorry-:

Realizing he might have just destroyed the most important thing in his life with his own clumsy hands, Heero pushed away from Duo, hooking a foot onto the ladder to swing himself up on deck. The mer's hand caught his wrist though, pulling him back down with a strength that always surprised the human. Though Duo looked slight, there was power in his lean body.

He used it now to hold Heero next to him as he searched the other teen's face.

:I'm not sorry you did... I just wanted to know why:

A gentle hand smoothed chocolate bangs away from cobalt eyes. Duo smiled hopefully at his friend and Heero let go a relieved breath, staring down at their joined hands.

:I... I did it because I wanted to. I have for a while. I look at you and... I don't know! Can't explain. I just... I always want to be with you. It's hard to think about anything else anymore:

Glancing up at Duo through messy bangs, he caught the gleam of understanding in the mer's eyes. Understanding... and something more. Slender fingers caressed his own.

:I feel that, too, Heero. I don't think it's bad, though. Is happiness wrong?:

Heero just shook his head, caught in glowing violet. Then Duo's smile turned impish and he reached a hand up to cup Heero's cheek.

:Wanna try that kissing thing again?:

Heero's answering smile was like the breaking of dawn.

:Hell, yes:

+

A sharp tug on his line woke Odin from a light doze. Well, shit... he'd been almost positive he wouldn't get a bite all the way out here, but damned if that didn't feel like something well-over the ten pound mark. False albacore, probably, given the time of year and their present location.

A rueful smile lifted salt-chapped lips. What the hell... maybe Kirei would like something really fresh.

The Albie was a big sucker, and it made him work for it. Been a long time since he'd actively fought a fish. These trips were more for relaxation than any driving desire to catch some poor critter just swimming along minding its own business.

When he finally had the silver-sided fish landed and gasping on the deck, Odin's breath was coming quickly as well. As he stood over the flopping ichthyoid, though, he found he just didn't have the heart to let it suffocate. With a deft twist, he detached the hook from the gills and heaved the wriggling creature back over the railing.

It landed in the water with a splash and didn't resurface. The relief that came with knowing he hadn't killed the thing made Odin laugh silently at himself.

/Gettin' soft in your old age, Lowe./

Cocking an ear towards the ship's tail end, he mopped blood-tinged seawater from the deck. He hadn't heard anything from Heero in a while. Kid was as silent as the grave, a fact for which Odin was daily grateful.

Probably should check on him. He felt a little guilty, bringing the boy out here then abandoning him for the day. Although, Heero certainly didn't complain.

The kid had a sleek, satisfied look to him these days that Odin couldn't quite figure out. He seemed, for want of a better word, content. That was not an emotion he'd ever associated with his taciturn son, but damned if he was gonna argue with it. It had silent resentment beat by a country mile.

Rolling his shoulders to work the kinks out, he ambled down the narrow passage between cabin and railing, towards the stern. The Witch was a fairly large craft -- roomy enough for comfort -- and he often bunked on it whenever he was off-duty. His apartment was little more than storage space.

"Hey, kid, you about ready to-,"

At first glance, he didn't understand what he was seeing. At second glance, he thought he understood, but was having trouble believing what his eyes were telling him. Shock and adrenaline shot their toxic combination along his nervous system, straight to his brain, and he reacted without thinking, something he would regret almost before the rush had left him.

Stumbling backwards into the cabin, he pulled open a locker, fumbling for the side-arm he kept there.

+

They'd been so wrapped up in each other they hadn't even noticed Odin until he'd called out.

Heero's eyes snapped open and he froze, the pliant form in his arms doing the same. He turned in time to see his father disappear through the cabin door, then jerked his gaze back to Duo. Onyx had swallowed violet, the expressive eyes widening into dark pools of fear.

: 'S okay. I'll talk to him:

Heero made to climb the swim-ladder, but Duo clung tenaciously.

:No!:

:He's my father, Duo: Heero soothed. :He won't hurt me:

Brushing a quick kiss against Duo's mouth, he disentangled himself from the mer's reluctant arms and scrambled quickly up slippery rungs. He was not prepared to find Odin standing at the top, a gun held in shaking fingers... a gun which was pointed right at Duo.

"Dad, no!"

Heero's voice cracked sharply across the endless murmur of the ocean, dragging Lowe's eyes from Duo to him.

"What... what is that?" the older man grated out, his voice harsh.

The dark-haired boy's temper rose swiftly at the words.

"He is Duo, Lowe. And he's my friend." Heero sighed. "Look, just put the gun down and I'll-,"

"No. I want to know what the hell he was doing with you."

A fierce frown pulled Heero's brows together. He shot a quick glance down at Duo, whose skin was now as pale as fresh milk.

"None of your business. Don't start pulling your 'father' crap with me at this late date. Put the fucking gun down, you're scaring him!"

:Heero?:

Duo's frightened mental voice made the frantic feelings swell inside him and he couldn't think beyond the dark muzzle pointed towards the mer.

/I heard him and we're not even touching./ :Duo!:

His sudden lunge took Odin by surprise and the older man gave a startled yelp. Heero grabbed for the gun, shoving Lowe's hand skyward as the weapon involuntarily discharged, the bullet streaking harmlessly into the ocean.

Odin jerked his arm, shaking Heero off and the teen stumbled backwards, thrown off-balance. The shove's momentum carried him towards the Witch's side and over it and then he was crashing into the water, his head connecting with the rudder on the way down.

+

:Heero! Heero wake up... please!:

Slim, strong arms held him tightly. Warm lips touched his own. He didn't want to wake up... he liked it here in this dark, womb-like place. Liked the feeling of being held like this.

:Love, you're bleeding. That's dangerous in the water. I'm taking you to the surface:

No! He didn't want to go back up there. There was a reason for that, but his muddled thoughts couldn't quite process the whys and wherefores of it.

Then he was rising towards the light, being pushed steadily upwards until a new set of hands grasped his shoulders and he was yanked, gasping, from his wet cradle and laid flat on something hard.

Coughing, he rolled his head weakly in refusal. This wasn't what he wanted... what he needed.

:Duo:

:Love you: the voice of home whispered as the surface beneath him vibrated to life and motion blurred what remained of his vision.

Then even that was gone, darkness encroaching quickly on his mind's cognizance. Helpless against the rising waves of oblivion, he gave in to their persistence, letting them drag him under to insensibility. There was room for one last thought... then nothing.

/Duo.../


:: 3 ::

"What are you talking about, Odin? Why should I lie to my son?"

Angrily pacing the stark ER waiting room, Kirei Yuy paused momentarily to glare at her ex. She'd thought they might finally work things out between them, but now...

"Kirei, please..." Odin crossed the worn linoleum to take her slim hands, gripping them tightly in his. "You don't have a damn reason to trust me, but... God, you need to do this. Not for me. This is about Heero, not me."

Searching wild blue eyes so like her son's, the petite Japanese-American finally realized what she was seeing. Fear. Odin's gaze was haunted by something she couldn't even begin to guess at and she could feel her own worry rise to meet the dark emotions swirling in cobalt depths.

"I can't... can't tell you why. Not right now. Not sure I'll ever be able to. I doubt you'd even believe me! But for his sake... I'm begging you. Please."

Long minutes passed before she nodded reluctantly, eyes still locked on a face that seemed to have aged years in a day.

"I will trust you because -- though you were never ideal as husband or father -- I have never believed other than that you would die before deliberately harming either Heero or me."

Giving Odin one last, searching look, she pulled her hands from his and turned away, walking towards the open door where a nurse waited patiently.

"Odin." Kirei Yuy stopped in the rectangular frame and spoke without looking back. "If I am wrong about this, I will find out. And no ocean will be wide enough, as the saying goes."

Then she was gone and Odin sat down abruptly, his legs finally giving out. Leaning forward, he dropped his face into his hands, resting his aching head against clammy palms.

/Is this the right thing to do? I sure as hell don't know. But it's the only thing I can think of./

Straightening slowly, he leaned his head against an off-white wall and closed his eyes. As they'd been doing all afternoon, his thoughts circled back to the boat... the water... and the impossibility that had floated there; enormous, terror-filled eyes staring up at him.

/Christ almighty... that kid had a fucking tail!/

+

"Heero? Come on, baby, come back to me."

Duo? No... the voice was too soft, too feminine. And besides, his ears were picking it up along with his mind.

Very slowly and with great effort, Heero slitted his eyes.

This definitely wasn't his house. The bed was both too hard and yet not firm enough to be his own. A thin curtain surrounded it, muting the electric light illuminating the room.

"Good to see you conscious again, baby-boy."

His mother's face swam into smiling view and Heero did his best to smile back, though it wasn't very successful. The minute he tried to move his neck, an agony of pain surged through his head, leaving nausea and dizziness in its wake.

"Don't try to move, kiddo, you'll just make yourself sick."

"Now she tells me," he mumbled, surprising a laugh from the woman beside him.

Rising, Kirei moved so he could look at her without disturbing his throbbing skull and he grimaced in rueful thanks.

"I've seen better efforts from three-thousand-year-old mummies," his mother the ancient history professor remarked acerbically.

"Yeah, well, they have the distinct pleasure of being dead," he groaned. "I'm just working on it."

Kirei's laughter sounded once more within the muffled enclosure and Heero's mind began to feel somewhat less foggy.

"Mom, what am I doing in the hospital? How-?"

His voice trailed off as his memories returned in a gut-churning flood. The boat... And Lowe had... Duo!

"Where's Dad, Mom?"

A slight, puzzled frown furrowed Kirei's golden brow.

"What does your father have to do with anything, Heero? I expect he's off rescuing some rich idiot's ocean-ignorant, undeserving ass."

Heero gaped at his mother.

"But he... I... what did...?"

Sighing, Kirei carefully sat down on Heero's bed, laying a delicate hand over her son's restless fingers.

"I asked you to clean out the attic today, since it's almost fall and sooner or later we'll have to store the summer stuff and break out winter clothes. You missed a rung coming down the ladder and whacked yourself a good one." Reaching forward, she gently brushed a lock of unruly chocolate hair back from Heero's face. "You've got one heck of a concussion, baby-boy. They're keeping you tonight for observation."

Heero's mind whirled pointlessly, unable to make sense of what his mother was telling him.

The attic? But... he'd been out on the boat with Odin today. And his father had seen!

"Mom, I was with Dad today. We took the boat out around ten."

Kirei sat back, the frown once more in place.

"You couldn't have, Heero. Your Dad's not even in port, right now. He's been gone for almost a month."

Heero reeled. If it had been anyone but his mother saying these things, he'd have automatically assumed they were lying. But Kirei had never lied to him. Not about Santa or the Tooth Fairy or even religion. Not about anything.

If she said Lowe was out of town, he was. If she told Heero that he'd hit his head tumbling down the attic ladder, he damn well had.

And if that was the case...

It hadn't been real. All of it -- the Cape, Odin... Duo-- had been some fantastic dream brought on by a bruised brain. The friendship and caring he'd found with an unbelievably beautiful boy who happened to live beneath the waves... it was nothing more than his imagination working over-time.

The sudden, tearing pain of it ripped a gasp from him and he shut his eyes tight against the tears he could feel building.

"Heero? Baby are you alright?"

Letting his lids slide briefly upwards, Heero looked up into his mother's worried eyes.

"'M fine, Mom, just really tired. Can I... will they let me go back to sleep?"

Kirei smiled in relief.

"Of course, Heero. The nurses will wake you up every hour, but until then, you just rest."

"Okay."

He hadn't been lying. He was exhausted, though the feeling was more mental than physical, so he closed his eyes a final time.

"I'll be back in the morning to take you home, kiddo. Love you."

His mother's lips brushed his forehead, and he couldn't help but wish the soft caress had been given by someone else. Pretending sleep so he wouldn't have to talk, he gradually slowed his breathing and relaxed his body.

Footsteps faded along with the glow of light against his shuttered lids. The darkness was absolute and all-encompassing. It easily hid the silvery liquid tracking from tightly-closed eyes.

+

"He's asleep."

"You told him...?"

"I told him he hit his head on the way down from the attic." Kirei's eyes blazed into Odin's. "I just lied to my son for the first time in his life... I hope I had a damn good reason for doing so."

When Odin nodded wordlessly, she waved a hand at the door.

"Go on. Get out of town. I told him you've been gone for the last month. So give things some verisimilitude. Is there anyone besides Jei and me who knows you're in Mass?"

"No... not really," Odin said slowly. "Out at the Cape, maybe a couple..."

"But this is Boston," Kirei finished for him. Her eyes narrowed. "And you won't be taking him back there again."

He nodded again. He wouldn't be going back to the Cape, himself, much less dragging Heero along for the ride.

Arms crossed, Kirei studied the man before her. Maybe it was time, after all.

"Sell that damned boat and think real hard about partial retirement," she said without preamble, "and then maybe I'll think about you coming home."

Odin's head jerked up. Kirei was smiling wryly, her eyes wary but willing to compromise.

Leaning forward, he drew her into a brief, hard hug, then let her go.

"I'll be waiting on your call, babe," he said quietly, then turned on his heel and left.

Staring sightlessly at the space he no longer occupied, Kirei prayed silently to any god that might be listening.

/Whoever's out there... if you're out there... let this be what Heero needs. Don't let us fuck his life up again./

+

Somewhere normal sound could not reach... in a place unfathomable by human minds, a boy curled around his pain, keening his anguish in silence.

:Heero. Heeroheeroheeroheeroheero...:

In the ocean, it's impossible to separate tears from salt-water. That doesn't mean they aren't there.

[part 2] [back to Ravengirl's fic]