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

A/N: Duo with fins... Heero with paintbrush... fun will (hopefully) be had by all. ^_^ Oh, and, just thought I'd say this so you can't bitch at me later... other GW characters (including the rest of the G5) may or may not put in appearances during this fic. I will NOT put any pairings but 1x2 in the header, though. There will be none worth mentioning. This here's the Heero & Duo show. 'Nuff said.

// = direct thought
:: = mindspeech

Wet + Part 4

From the private files of Odin R. Lowe, deceased:

Hey kid,

Long time no see. Guess if you're reading this, I finally kicked off. Cancer, you know? Started in my lungs years ago, or so they tell me. You pay for your mistakes, kid. You surely do.

S'pose by now, you know some of my other ones. Mistakes, that is. Main reason I left you guys. Felt like something was eating me from the inside out. You couldn't stand being around me, Heero, and I knew it. Understood it, too. Hell, half the time I didn't wanna be around myself.

I lied to you, kid. Worse, I had your mom lie, too. Wasn't her fault, so don't you go getting pissed at her. She doesn't even know why. Never could tell her. After a while, didn't figure it was mine to tell. That's your story.

'S why I had Thad call you, instead of Kirei. Wanted you to see the condo first... let you decide how much to say, if anything. Won't try to tell you what to do, but if you wanna let her know what happened, I think your mom could handle it. Might not believe you at first -- that woman never had any imagination -- but she'd definitely deal.

You don't have to tell Kirei goodbye for me. There's a letter for her in that envelope Thad gave you. Hope you'll make sure she gets it.

I just want you to know that I did love her. Loved you both. Ten years ago, I did what I thought was right. Know it wasn't, now, but then... Well, shit, you don't wanna read a bunch of lame excuses, so I'll shut up about it.

Anyway, business. Condo's yours. Boat's yours. Sold off my parents' property years ago... invested the money. My dad and I didn't see eye-to-eye on much, but he taught me a thing or two about the Market that stuck with me. Between his stocks and mine, that's a pretty decent chunk of change.

Documents are in the office files... the important stuff's in a few safety-deposits and a couple of Swiss bank accounts. Keep Thad's number handy, he knows what's where. Run into any problems, he'll take care of you. Don't let that pretty face fool ya... he's a pit-bull on crack when he wants to be.

Bet you're wondering about him, huh? You like the ceiling? I don't have your hand with a brush, but I think it turned out okay. Not gonna spell it all out for you, though. Just like yours, Thad's story's his to tell. I'm just the third-party observer.

Bet you're also wondering why I never tried to say any of this to you while I was still alive. That's real simple, kid. I was scared shitless. It's damned easy confessin' to a stranger. They've got no hold on you. Tellin' your family? That's a can of worms I just couldn't open. I'd like to think that eventually I would have. Least I had enough balls to do it this way, 'stead of lettin' it ride.

Well, I guess all that's left is... I'm sorry. As a father, I really sucked, Heero, and I am damned sorry for it. I failed you in more ways than I can count and I think that's my main regret in a life full of 'em. I don't expect forgiveness from you, but I hope you can get beyond the anger.

'Cause knowing you, sure as hell you're mad enough to kill right now.

In the long run, though, comes down to only one thing... he's still out there somewhere. I fucked up big-time with your mom. Gonna follow in your old man's footsteps and let pure cussedness keep your ass nailed to the floor? Thought not.

Be good to yourself. Be good to him, too, and while you're at it... apologize for me. I scared the shit out of both of you that day. Gut reaction 's all I can claim.

Kid... talk to Thad. And try to remember me, if not fondly, then without hate.

-OL


:: 1 ::

"No, not that way! Hold it like this and click, see? Yeah, that's it."

Hovering nervously behind the seated form of his long-haired houseguest, Wufei watched with something akin to awe as Duo easily explored and mastered the internet.

But then, the mer was fairly conversant with the human way-of-life. He hadn't needed explanations for bathrooms, kitchens or sleeping arrangements, and the television held no mysteries for him. Wufei wondered if this came from knowing Heero or some other, as-yet-unknown reason.

He'd been more than a little leery of letting the mer near complicated tech, but Duo had listened intently to his somewhat incoherent instructions, eyes flickering between screen, keyboard and mouse, before taking his place in front of the computer.

Long, slender fingers had stroked over raised keys... tentatively at first, then slowly gaining speed and confidence.

Oddly enough, the kid understood the mechanics of both the English language and the Roman alphabet. When Wufei ventured to ask why, an amused glance had been the only response.

The physical act of writing, on the other hand, was a closed book. Duo couldn't seem to transmit the knowledge in his head down to his fingers and onto paper. After a few frustrating hours, both last night and this morning, the Chinese-American finally hit on the idea of keys versus pen.

It worked brilliantly, and the incandescent smile he'd received in thanks had scrambled his brain for a few interesting minutes.

He let Duo play for half and hour or so before asking, in a studiedly nonchalant tone,

"Want to see what Heero's up to these days?"

The mer's reaction was all he could have wished for. Jerking around in the swivel-chair, Duo fixed enormous, pleading eyes on Wufei, wrapping one insistent hand around the Asian's wrist.

:Yes! Show me:

Grinning, Wufei nudged his companion over a little so he could type an address into the browser. Duo watched avidly as yuyverse.net spread itself across the screen in a glowing panorama of oceanic color.

Bypassing the main page, Wufei went directly to the 'completed works' section and clicked on 'Aqua Erotica'. Scanning the small images, he quickly found the one he wanted and enlarged it.

Stepping back from the desk, he glanced down at his guest.

He hadn't thought the boy could get any more attractive than he already was, but the dazed wonder in shining violet transformed the mer's entire face to something surpassing human notions of beauty. The wide mouth was slightly parted and utterly tempting, but Wufei knew better than to respond to the unconsciously sensual invitation.

If he tried anything, Duo would most likely run. And when Heero found out, Wufei would be up shit creek without a paddle.

/The things I do for my friends,/ he mourned silently. /Self control sucks./

A hesitant touch on his arm dragged him from increasingly petulant thoughts.

:Wufei... Did Heero... do this?:

The mer's eyes were still glued to the image.

Wufei considered it to be his old college friend's most gorgeously executed piece. It was also one of the hottest homo-erotic scenes he'd ever laid eyes on.

Sprawled across an ocean-drenched rock, a nude, dark-haired human teen arched his back in pleasure as another youth ran a pointed pink tongue the length of his erect cock.

The second boy possessed a sea-mist tail, complete with opalescent fin. Long, brown-red-gold hair obscured his face and cleverly-suggested sunlight lit alabaster skin to glowing radiance.

Drops of quivering liquid misted both boys' bodies and the resultant sheen was so lifelike that the reclined figures seemed almost to breathe. The perfection of bone-structure and smooth, taut muscle was lovingly rendered and blatantly sexual.

Wufei looked away before his arousal could rise to obvious levels.

"Yes, he painted that. It's called 'Land and Sea'. Beautiful, no?"

"Uhsssss."

The sibilant hiss that issued from the enthralled mer surprised Wufei. It was obviously meant as a 'yes'.

Hmn. Perhaps Duo just needed time for his voice to develop. That would make sense, actually. The more Wufei talked, the better idea the other man would have of how to form and project speech.

In fact... weren't there people out there who specialized in this kind of thing? Wufei's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. He was reasonably certain there were, and if so, it was a fair bet he knew someone who'd be able to find him one.

Dropping a hand on Duo's shoulder, he smiled reassuringly when the mer looked a question at him.

"Don't worry, nothing's wrong. I just wanted to know if you'll be okay here by yourself for a little while. I need to go take care of a couple of things."

Duo nodded solemnly before turning back to the computer.

Halfway through the door, Wufei pulled his mobile from one shorts-pocket and punched in Zechs' number.

+

Duo took his time exploring Heero's art, marveling at the realism inherent in every brushstroke. His finger traced over the computer's screen, following the deceptively simple lines of evocative flesh.

Underwater artists tended towards bass-relief and the occasional mosaic. Color was more suggested than extant. What he knew of painting had come from his human-studies classes, and Heero's vision was beyond anything he'd imagined.

/This... this is me. And him. He didn't forget me./

A wave of pure elation washed over him and he couldn't help the exited shiver that ran the length of his body. His body...

Looking downwards, he took in his strange-yet-wonderful new appendages, now covered in loose, luxuriously soft black fabric. 'Trousers', he supposed one called them.

He'd learned that and other human-related facts in his 'Land-locked Life in the Modern Age' course, taken out of sheer curiosity his first year at the Academy of the Atlantic. He'd wanted to see how much he already knew about Heero's world, besides being hungry for any new ideas which might give him a better mental picture of life above the waves.

Some of the material had been woefully out-dated. Other bits prompted only amusement, they were so ludicrous.

On the whole, the Mer really had no idea of what went on right above their heads. A summer spent within Heero's mind had given Duo a working knowledge of just what day-to-day existence was like for the legged portion of Earth's sentient creatures.

Raising his arms and arching his feet, Duo stretched with thorough abandonment, taking time to enjoy the sensation of possessing toes. He grinned down at them, watching their wriggling with satisfaction.

Feet and ankles were truly amazing things. How they could support the weight of an upright body was beyond him, but he was certainly glad they did.

Flopping bonelessly back against the chair, Duo returned his attention to the Net. Between Heero's memories and Wufei's explanations, it hadn't taken him long to grasp the concept. It seemed almost a physical counterpart of the Mer's Soul Memory... the collective consciousness that bound their world together.

An unwelcome thought suddenly intruded on his ruminations, and he frowned.

He'd always know there were ancient memories he could not access, and the ability to shape-shift was obviously amongst them. The Senate must keep that particular well of knowledge sealed up tight, since no young, inquisitive mer had managed to tap the thought-stream leading into it.

/Well, none that I've heard of, at any rate. Either no one has done it, or... they hushed it up and completely erased the connection. Which means someone would have had to authorize a memory wipe./

Duo was shivering again, but this time the sensation was anything but pleasant. Memory wipes were done only in the direst of circumstances and with the full approval of the Senate.

If anyone ever found out what he'd done...

/Well, they won't,/ he told himself stubbornly. /I've kept Heero a secret, why not this?/

Because you disappeared yesterday without telling anyone, and you're sure to have been missed by now, his inner voice-of-reason replied.

/I'm an adult. If Father can't deal with the fact that I'm not going to tell him every little detail of my life, he can just kiss my ass./

The Heero-ism popped effortlessly into his mental dialogue and Duo decided he liked it. Dismissing the disturbing thoughts from his mind, he retrieved the device Wufei called a 'mouse' and set himself to explore Heero's site in a more in-depth fashion.

A swirling cursive of words in the upper right-hand corner of the screen caught his eye.

/Contact the artist. Oh.../

Briefly startled when clicking the words resulted in a new window, Duo stared at Wufei's on-line communications page. Email... he was pretty sure that's what the other man had told him.

Chewing nervously on his lip, Duo stared blankly at the screen and debated with himself. Surely Wufei would not mind Duo using his mail service to contact Heero? It was probably a better method than most.

Heero knew Wufei; according to the Chang heir, they'd been roommates at university. If Duo's missive was sent under a trusted friend's auspices, Heero might feel more comfortable about the whole thing and less likely to think he was some insane stalker.

Decision made, Duo put fingers determinedly to keyboard and laboriously began to pick coherent words from the confusing mass of letters.


:: 2 ::

Seated at a corner table near floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the heart of downtown Hartford, Heero shifted restlessly in his seat. He'd found Spris without much trouble but, seeing as he was almost fifteen minutes early, it wasn't surprising that Selkirk had yet to arrive.

This situation, though perfectly understandable, did nothing to appease his fractious state-of-mind. His thoughts jumped from one improbable theme to the next, never touching long on any one thing, the result being acute disorientation and light-headedness.

Add to that the fact that he'd been up all night in front of his father's computer, in a room decorated with the phantoms of his past, and his candidacy for a straight-jacket was assured.

"Are you attempting to redecorate the table in a liquid-based medium, Mr. Yuy, or were you merely bent on serenading the entirety of the premises via glass-and-fork?"

The melodic, mildly sardonic tenor startled him from his introspection and he shot upright in his seat, eyes quickly lighting on Thaddeus Selkirk's raised eyebrow and vaguely amused mouth.

Heero suddenly realized that he'd been tapping a piece of cutlery against his lemon-infused water and abruptly dropped the offending implement.

The small blonde seated himself gracefully across from Heero and waived the menu proffered by a hovering waiter.

"Thank you, Esteban, but that won't be necessary. I'll have my usual and bring us a bottle of the Chateau St. Jean '03 Chardonnay, if you please. Are you ready, Yuy?"

It took Heero a moment to realize that he was expected to order. Food was the last thing on his mind, restaurant or no, and he couldn't remember a time he'd been less hungry than this precise moment.

His thoughts must have been writ plain over his features, since Selkirk's smirk became smugly evident.

"A el... un ensalada de la casa, pequena, y la paella mariscos, por favor. And Esteban... a shot of Maker's, neat, hmn?"

Heero waited until Esteban had gone to venture a glance at his companion, and found Selkirk delicately sipping from his water goblet, watching him with that faint cat-and-canary smile.

"You speak Spanish?"

A bland, idiotic inquiry, but it served its purpose.

"Solo un pequeno, y muy, muy malo. I'm better with Catalan. Barcelona is a lovely place to spend one's summers."

The corners of Heero's mouth twitched upwards, almost against his will. Eyeing his adversary over the elegantly accoutered table, he found himself impressed, albeit grudgingly. The bastard was silky smooth and could no doubt play the game with the best of them.

/Lawyers./

Esteban chose that moment to return with their drinks and Heero took the opportunity to force relaxation on his cramped muscles. He was here for the duration... might as well enjoy it as best he could.

Selkirk approved the wine and sent their attendant off before pushing the tumbler of bourbon towards Heero.

"Here. You look like you need this."

Raising the glass, Heero watched the swirl of rich amber catch the mid-afternoon sun.

"Are we going to tip-toe around this for the next hour, or will you talk to me straight-up without your evasive advocate's bullshit?"

His tone was idle, but the look he sent Selkirk meant business. Knocking back half the tumbler's contents without breaking eye-contact, he rode the liquid burn until it bottomed out in his stomach and spread, fire mellowing to warmth.

Selkirk's stormy eyes were bright with laughter as he raised his wineglass in mocking salute.

"A palpable hit, my dear Yuy. And I will answer any question put to me. How I do so is, of course, my look-out."

The slight flavor of upper-class Britain in the lawyer's voice was stronger today. Heero wondered what that indicated, if anything.

"Granted. Were you and my father lovers?"

/Okay, where the hell did that come from, Yuy?!/

It was not the question he'd meant to ask, and from the other man's reaction, it was not the one Selkirk expected. As Heero watched, nonplussed, the gorgeous blonde threw his head back in genuine laughter.

"Oh, dear god... I sometimes forget how blunt you Colonials can be."

"So what? At least we don't beat around the bush for a few years before getting to the point, unlike you lot across the Pond," Heero snapped back.

Selkirk sobered, just the hint of his smile remaining.

"Point taken. And no, Odin and I were not lovers. We were friends, nothing more. He reminded me very strongly of the man who raised me, and incest has never been one of my vices."

"TMI, Selkirk," Heero muttered, a dark flush highlighting sharp cheekbones.

"I'm sure it is." The laughter was back in the well-bred tones. "Let's get down to it, then, shall we? Fact: two years ago, your father cut me from the rigging of my sinking sailboat."

Mist grey locked with cobalt.

"Fact: even had the rope wrapped around my neck not been choking me, I would probably still be dead, my extra physical abilities notwithstanding."

Heero reached for the rest of his whiskey and gulped. Repetitively.

"Fact: half of my family lives where no full-blood human has trespassed for more than three-thousand years."

The tumbler was empty and Heero found himself wishing it wasn't.

"Fact: ten years ago you hit your head when you fell from your father's ship. Your memories are just that, Yuy... memories, not hallucinations."

+

"You want me to what? Fei-fei, you know I adore you, but at the moment, I'm stuck with baby-sitting duty. The 'rents dumped Relena on me for a month while they're taking their second-bloody-honeymoon in Monte. Although, this is the fourth time they've done it, so you really can't call it a 'second' anymore, can you?"

Wufei growled low in his throat. Sometimes, he had no idea why he bothered.

An image of his lover slunk sexily across his mental stage.

Oh yeah. That's why...

Zechs Merquise was the only son of displaced European royalty. On reaching the exalted age of eighteen, he'd legally changed his name, told his parents to stick their unrealistic expectations up their monarchistic arses, then buggered off to Paris by way of New York and London.

Now a white-hot property on the international modeling circuit, the prices he commanded staggered even the Heir-to-the-Dragon-Clan's fiscal grasp.

He was, in addition to these admirable achievements, queer as a three-dollar bill, a drama-queen worthy of Broadway, a shameless flirt, and a constant thorn in Wufei's backside... when he wasn't involved in something much more pleasurable concerning said rump.

"Come on, Merquise, I need help. How often do I ask you for anything?"

"Mmm, not often enough, darling, and I must admit... I simply love listening to you beg. By the bye, I'm positively dying to know why I should loan you my personal voice-instructor."

Gritting his teeth, Wufei prepared to break out the big guns.

"I'll give you a month's worth of guaranteed head and two sexual favors of your choice."

"Done. Where am I sending her, love?"

Wufei rolled his eyes.

"The house in the Hamptons. I don't think you've been here before, but I'll 'e' you the address and directions."

"Actually, I do know it. I was there for a long weekend a couple of years back. Your eldest sister, darling, really does throw the best parties. And she invites the most luscious bottoms I've ever met. Has a thing for watching, does Miss Zhen-li, and it ain't het that turns her crank. Naughty girl, your sister."

Massaging his aching temples one-handed, Wufei closed his much-abused lids.

"That's more than I ever needed to know about Li, Merquise. Just send the woman, alright? She'll probably be delighted to get away from you for a few weeks."

"You wound me, dearest. But seriously... what delicious little piece-of-ass has you so enthralled that you're handing out sex-on-demand? You're no pushover, 'Fei-my-love, much as I might wish it."

"Oh, for the gods'... He's not a piece of ass, okay? Not mine, anyway. And this is more in the way of a debt that's long overdue."

"Well... you've definitely pricked my curiosity. I might just have to make a personal appearance for this one."

"Suck it, Zechs."

"Ah, but I thought that was to be your province, my dear."

Wufei hung up on the sound of Zechs' laughter.

/Phoebe... this story had damn well better be worth it./

+

Final punctuation mark firmly placed, Duo carefully read over his message. It wasn't long or involved, nor was it particularly eloquent. But he thought it conveyed his sincere yearning and hope.

Not allowing himself any further hesitation or alteration, he clicked 'send'.

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