Author: Ravengirl
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

A/N: To all of you who responded to this fic... thanks so much. I really didn't expect much feedback for my little flight of fancy. Hope you enjoy this part.

// = direct thought
:: = mindspeech

Wet + Part 3

:: 1 ::

His first intimate experience with human physiology was completely accidental. If he'd been a law-abiding mer and stayed at least ten leagues from dry land, legs would never have become an issue in his life.

But Duo couldn't avoid temptation if said life depended on it, even though in the past, it nearly had. If someone told him 'no', he immediately began plotting ways to achieve the forbidden goal.

So instead of entertaining the flirty daughter of a visiting Senator from the Mediterranean region -- like the good, dutiful son he was not -- he'd defiantly beached himself on this deserted stretch of sand.

He hadn't meant to fall asleep.

Really.

It was just that the sun was so delightfully warm... and the sand was so perfect to burrow into... and the farther away from the water he wriggled, the warmer and drowsier he got...

He'd been so sleepily content that he'd forgotten the cardinal rule of Mer: always keep your fins wet. He wasn't sure just why the rule existed... unless it had something to do with the fact that the skin of one's tail was terribly sensitive and, without the slickness of water, would quickly become irritated.

Whatever the reason, he'd never completely abandoned the ocean before. Even today, he probably wouldn't have if the provocation at home had not been so extreme.

That wasn't to say Duo didn't like the non-liquid portions of the earth. He very much enjoyed sunning himself near rocky tide-pools and watching the strange creatures which inhabited the forests that lay just beyond the North Atlantic's beaches.

Curious by nature, he probably would have done so no matter what, but in addition to its visual beauties, the human world possessed a single lure which drew the braided mer like an irresistible siren-song... and that lure was Heero.

Duo didn't question the fact that Heero hadn't returned after that awful day. He, better than anyone, understood the demands of family and the lengths to which they would go in their protective measures.

He didn't doubt Heero's father had made sure his son would never come near the Cape -- or Duo -- again. The one thing the man could not do, though, was make Duo forget.

Great Poseidon, how he couldn't forget.

In daydreams and nightmares... in waking visions so real he nearly cried with the sweet agony of it when they dissolved into nothingness... he remembered. Ten full cycles had passed since he'd last seen his human heart, but for Duo, the other boy's memory was as fresh as the day they'd parted.

Ridiculous as it might seem, physical contact with dry land drew Heero's beloved phantom even closer. If he closed his eyes and concentrated, Duo could almost feel his presence on the sun-heated sands.

A smile on his lips, Heero's face in his thoughts, he drifted off into pleasant fantasy.

He slept.

He dreamed.

And when he awoke, his reality was forever altered.

+

Shoving thin shades back up the aristocratic bridge of his nose, Chang Wufei stomped irritably through overgrown foliage lining the path leading down to his family's private beach.

Coming to Montauk for the latter half of the summer had seemed a brilliant idea when he'd initially conceived it. Not only was the Cottage -- if one could refer to a ten-bedroom mansion as such -- deserted this year, and therefore a perfect backdrop for his writing, but he'd finally be able to escape his mother's incessant matchmaking.

The Dragon-clan's heir emitted a rude snort. Matchmaking, indeed.

This last one... Mei? Maire? Meredith?? Well, whatever the bint's name, she was rather more annoying than the usual. The scion of a wealthy Main Line family, she truly believed the world owed her whatever her little heart desired.

Wufei had barely kept himself from yawning in her spoiled, prissy face.

One of these days, he'd declare independence from familial tyranny... by way of announcing his homosexuality at the annual Chang New Year's celebration. The collective apoplexy sure to ensue would, in and of itself, be worth it.

Besides, what was New Year's without the fireworks?

After the dust settled, the hidebound 'Elders' could turn their attentions to some other, more deserving victim. Say, one of his twenty-or-so siblings. Thanks to his father's well-documented indiscretions, there were enough little Chang bastards running around to boost the self-image of even the most insecure masculine ego.

In the meantime, however, any escape route that presented itself was to be seized and exploited post haste. His present situation should, by rights, have him purring like a cat in a roomful of canaries.

The Hamptons were inarguably easy on the eye, and owning one's own beach was certainly nice. These indulgences, in addition to the convenience of a sequestered private residence (complete with housekeeper who came and went silently, leaving excellent meals and clean bathrooms in her wake), were not to be sneezed at.

There was, however, a serpent in Wufei's garden. His muse, that fickle bitch, had deserted him almost the minute he'd left New York, and now stubbornly refused to be coaxed from hiding.

Women! The gods knew his leanings. Why they couldn't have sent him a lovely young Ganymede for inspiration -- in place of the flighty Phoebe they'd stuck him with -- was completely beyond his ken.

So instead of typing busily away at his laptop, he'd decided to see if a little sun, sand and a bottle of chilled Pinot Grigio would clear the cobwebs from his mind and tempt his vanished plot-line to reappear.

The undergrowth parted, and he found himself sinking slightly into coarse particulates. Kicking off his sandals, he left them at the tree-line to amble aimlessly down yellowish-brown dunes towards the water.

Finding a promising spot, he secured both bottle and wineglass in the sandy earth before spreading his blanket, then stood, hands on hips, looking around.

He hadn't been here since he was a kid... had forgotten the scents and sounds of the ocean. The wind was brisk, for July, making what might have been an otherwise uncomfortably hot day, just right.

As he turned his eyes towards the far end of the cove, his gaze caught on a long bundle lying about a meter and a half from the tide's reach. Squinting against the glare, he tried to bring it into focus. Looked almost like...

Oh hells, it was a dolphin. He could just make out the curving tail-fin from where he stood.

Leaving his Pinot with more than a touch of regret -- it was sure to be warm by the time he'd checked on the creature and called the local animal rescue -- he jogged towards the beached sea-mammal.

This happened around here, on occasion. Some poor beast would come in with the tide and get stuck. Luckily, Mariana Staver, a retired marine biologist who volunteered part-time at the local aquarium, had some practical experience in returning such animals to their natural environment.

He'd give her a shout as soon as he dampened the dolphin's skin. Being out of water for so long couldn't be good for it.

As he got closer, though, it started looking less and less like your typical blunt-nosed ocean-critter. In fact, those were arms. And that was hair. Lots of it.

Five feet from his destination, Wufei stopped in his tracks, staring open-mouthed at the mermaid... er, merboy... er, whatever...

'Whatever' turned out to be the most accurate description, since, after a few minutes of Wufei's ogling, the opalescent skin of the being's nether regions started to... change.

The demarcation line between tail and torso faded as shimmering mist-green became warm ivory, faintly tinged with peach. The feathery fin shrunk, divided.

Then the long, muscular tail seemed to split, and suddenly the most gorgeous specimen of manhood he'd ever had the privilege of gazing upon (well, at least since the last time Merquise had cornered him in the gym showers) was spread over the golden sands before him like an offering.

Part of his mind yipped hysterically, informing him that he'd finally achieved the nervous breakdown he'd been courting for some time, now.

His jaded side remarked that this fascinating hallucination was, no doubt, the direct result of years' worth of reading and writing gay smut.

/That's not a hallucination. I watched the whole damn thing!/

Meanwhile, the rest of him metaphorically jumped up and down, shouting, 'Lookit, lookit, everybody! Lookit what I found!'

Plopping bonelessly down on the yielding ground, he carefully took in the heart-shaped face with its closed, long-lashed eyes... the slender-but-tightly-muscled body... the very nice package resting between lean, pale thighs...

/Where the hell does he put all that when he's in fish-form?/

Graceful limbs quivered, stretched, and enormous violet eyes blinked sleepily up at him.

Chang Wufei stared into those unbelievable eyes and felt his fingers twitch, in desperate need of his computer keyboard.

/Phoebe, old girl, my deepest apologies for any slanderous remarks. You are a High Goddess among muses and I shall pour an entire bottle of Perrier-Jouet '90 on your alter as a gesture of my undying devotion. Just as soon as I make sure I'm not dreaming./

+

Something was tickling him, running prickly fingers the length of his body and back up again.

:Solo, knock it off... I'm sleeping:

The itchy feelings intensified.

:Solo, I'm serious! Quit it!:

Even as his drowsy mind recalled that Solo couldn't be the culprit -- his big brother had moved out of the family home a cycle ago -- the rest of him registered the grainy nature of his bed and the lack of water around him.

He'd fallen asleep on land. One of Heero's odd human oaths leapt promptly to mind.

/Shit!/

Cautiously lifting his lids, he found himself staring into a pair of intensely curious black eyes.

/ohshitohshitohshitohshitohshit/

"No, don't!"

Ignoring the man's shout, he threw himself backwards in an attempt to reach the water, but for some reason, his tail didn't seem to be working. One swift glance downwards explained why.

His rarely-used larynx pushed a sound of strangled shock out into summery air.

Looking back up at the human across from him, Duo begged silently for an explanation.

His expression must have conveyed his distress, since the other's face grew worried and he withdrew the hand he'd extended. Kneeling several feet from the terrified mer, the man kept his eyes on Duo's.

"I... I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'll do my best to help you if I can. Can you...? Are you able to understand what I'm saying?"

Duo nodded frantically.

"Okay... Um... basic questions, for now. You're from out there, right?"

The young man gestured towards the ocean.

Duo nodded again.

"As far as that goes, I really can't help you. Sorry. When I showed up, you had a -- er -- tail, and then it just sort of... disappeared."

Duo held up a hand. The man immediately quieted. Pointing to his new appendages, Duo shook his head vigorously then spread his hands in the universal gesture of, 'I have no idea what's going on here and I'm scared out of my gourd'.

The human's brows pulled together in a puzzled frown.

"Never happened to you before, mn?" A long-fingered hand swept shoulder-length wings of shiny black hair back from a smoothly oval face. "Well, what did you do today that's not normal? I mean, is sleeping on beaches part of your typical routine?"

Duo's frown matched the man's. The human had a point. What had he...? Turning his gaze from his former resting place to the sea and back, his face cleared as understanding dawned. He'd been completely out of the water long enough for his skin to dry.

Vision blurred momentarily as he stared at the ocean. That rule... If it had been made, in the first place -- and it was the oldest law in the history of Mer -- then he was far from the first this had happened to.

Someone... sometime... had walked.

/We're shifters. Not like the Wolven or Felidae, though... we're something else entirely./

+

Wufei wasn't sure what kind of response he'd expected from the merman; maybe displeasure at being confronted with a human... perhaps the unease of discovery.

The creature's agitation and nearly tangible fear over the 'change' surprised him, though. Obviously it was a new and possibly unwelcome experience.

As he watched, fascinated, the unfocused look in the youth's eyes slowly became stubborn determination. Pushing himself up onto his knees, the braided mer swayed slightly, getting his balance.

Wufei suddenly realized how awkward this must be for him. The guy had most likely spent twenty-something years swimming through life and suddenly his center of gravity was completely different. Must really suck.

He wished he could hold out a steadying hand, but didn't want to startle the kid further. The poor guy had had more than enough shocks in a single day for an entire lifetime, much less one hour.

When the mer seemed to get the hang of kneeling, his eyes finally turned Wufei's way. The Chinese-American sucked in a breath at the unnaturally vivid color of them. Who the hell had purple eyes, anyway? He'd never seen anything like it.

After a moment, he realized the boy was waiting for him to speak.

"So..." he began slowly, "can you talk, or I am going to be carrying the conversation?"

The mer concentrated for a moment, then forced a rusty 'nnnn' from his throat. Meeting Wufei's eyes, he shrugged helplessly, as if to say,

'Spend a few years breathing water, then see how well YOU talk.'

Wufei conceded his point.

"Okay, then. I gather, since you're not headed back where you came from, that you've got something you need to do here."

A vigorous nod.

"We'll have to find a way for you to tell me what you need, then, because I don't think either of us wants to play twenty questions every time I ask you something."

The kid's eyes narrowed and a hesitant minute passed while he seemed to debate something. Then, sliding a little closer to Wufei, he held his hand out, palm up.

Wufei got the point immediately. Carefully extending his own hand, he laid it gently along the mer's, smooth fingers brushing together.

The chaotic flood of images, sounds and emotion took him by surprise. Only the amaryllis eyes fixed on his own kept him locked in place, otherwise he'd have jerked away.

He realized, as his mind steadied, becoming more accustomed to this strange form of communication, that he was inside the mer's memories. Memories of another human... a much-loved -- and strangely familiar -- boy with dark, messy hair.

Then one repetitive whisper resolved itself into a meaningful word and Wufei realized just why the human boy's face tugged at his recall.

His eyes had closed at some point, but now they snapped open to stare incredulously at the anxious youth sitting across from him.

/Duo. I think he 'said' his name is Duo./

"My god," he breathed. "You're Heero Yuy's Siren."


:: 2 ::

Every window in the condo shook in its snug frame as the sun-room door was slammed with a force that nearly shattered the glass.

Panting with the sheer extremity of his fury, Heero stood just inside Odin's room, staring at the painting over the bed. His painting. He wanted to rip it from the wall and leave this place without a backwards glance.

But he couldn't. He had to know. Strong hands -- hard and callused from years of martial arts -- clenched into white-knuckled fists.

Stalking through the darkened condo, he stopped at the locked door. No doubt the key was somewhere on that ring he'd left in the great room, but right now he was too pissed to care.

His heel connected solidly with the wood, a satisfying crunch heralding the lock's demise. Shoving the shattered door inwards, he stepped forward... and froze, eyes fixed on the walls.

There were no shelves in here, only a desk, equipped with computer and accompanying swivel-chair. There was nothing to block his view of the murals that covered every available inch of wall-space.

It was an aquatic playground. Dolphins, sharks, schools of fish, and rays swam through shifting shades of blue. Tight-packed coral and colorful anemones filled in the gaps and morays peeked from their hidden hollows.

Amidst the varied sea-life, Mers disported themselves gracefully. Both male and female, they went about their daily business on the walls of Odin Lowe's land-locked office.

Heero swallowed hard. He'd thought his own fascination with the mythology of the oceans extreme, but this... this was obsession.

Duo was there, of course, playing tag with a bottle-nose across a side-wall. But there was one other face Heero readily recognized.

The ceiling seemed to be a single work, not part of the whole. Its aspect was darker than the rest, but in a way, hopeful.

A small blonde mer had been caught in the lines of a sinking ship -- a sailboat. Ropes wrapped tight around his throat and torso, he struggled, aqua-skinned tail churning the waters as the boat dragged him downwards, effectively choking him.

The scene might have been one of despair... if not for the hands reaching down towards the stricken mer; one to grasp a slender wrist, the other to jerk a long, wicked-looking knife through the mass of imprisoning cords.

The oddest thing about the entire tableau, Heero mused from some detached plane, was the shredded clothing shrouding the mer's body.

Well, that... and the fact that the he wore Thaddeus Selkirk's face.

Heero's hands moved without his permission, pulling the cell from his pocket and punching a number he'd programmed in a week ago after he'd first received the lawyer's message.

"Selkirk."

"What the hell is going on?!"

The shout escaped his throat without warning, the first release of ten years' worth of tension and anger.

There was a sigh from the other end of the phone.

"He told me you'd take one look at the walls and... hmn... I believe 'go ballistic' were his precise words. Or perhaps it was the statue?"

"Walls? Statue?! How about fucking both of them!"

"Oh, so you have been all the way through." The lawyer sounded pleased. "I don't suppose you opened the packet or turned on the computer, yet?"

"..."

"Tsk." Selkirk sounded like the disappointed owner of an incontinent puppy. "The computer, Yuy. If you'd opened the folder, as any intelligent person would have, you'd have your explanations... or part of them. I will provide the rest myself, tomorrow."

"I want-,"

"I know what you want. But I don't have time for you tonight. Spris, tomorrow at 3 pm. It's in the business plaza right above the bus depot in the Square. Walk north up Main and you'll find it."

The line went dead.

Heero stared blankly at his phone. The last ten years of his life were a lie and Selkirk wanted him to wait?

Then his mind, usually a fine-tuned weapon in its own right, began to dissect the conversation. His eyes turned towards Lowe's computer.

Perhaps tonight wouldn't be a complete waste, after all.

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