An oppressive summer heat that had stifled the day in St. Canard still had not abated much by nightfall. The heat had not stopped the Fearsome Five from going on a minor crime spree earlier that day, however, nor had it stopped their nemesis Darkwing Duck from foiling it. It also had not restrained Negaduck from exploding into a full on rage at losing yet again; if anything, it made his temper flare hotter. The rant was a spectacular spectacle, which started with him calling his four minions every nasty name in his vocabulary—from "knobs" to insults that would have made Beelzebub himself blush—and ended with a roaring chainsaw and a warning for each of them to beat it before their posteriors were roughly introduced to it up close and personal.
The hint did not have to be given twice, and the now-fearing four were gone in a flash. Quackerjack bounced back first, both literally and figuratively, and made the best of the hot night by pogo-ing through a closed public pool, leaving exploding rubber ducks behind as mementos for morning. Megavolt sated his steaming temper by shorting out the power lines three blocks north of Avian Way. He would have been pleased to know that the individual responsible for foiling his caper spent the next four hours fuming about the incompetent electric company while suffering a play-by-play recap of that night's Pelican's Island episode courtesy of Herb Muddlefoot, who graciously invited his neighbors over to cool off in their pool while the air conditioning was out. Liquidator, meanwhile, splashed off with little more than a soggy growl, and Bushroot returned to his greenhouse retreat.
The mutant plant-duck was not comfortable in the stifling summer heat either. Lyceum nycanthropus might have been a hardy summer-blooming perennial, but few plants except cacti thrived in the temperatures that were currently roasting St. Canard. Now without even the sun up to energize him with its light, Bushroot felt drained and wilty. He would have stopped for a drink himself, except that he was concerned for his potted friends at home. He knew that they must need watering as well, and unlike him, most of them could not just walk over to the nearest convenient pond, pool, or fountain. A quick glance at his thermometer, a high tech device that also showed the relative humidity and barometric pressure, made him wince. "Ooh, you poor things. I'll get you taken care of right away." Bushroot patted Spike, who was busily slurping out of a half-full bucket of mixed compost and water as he passed by, picked up a watering can, and headed for his parched petunias.
Ten minutes, then fifteen, and then twenty passed. Bushroot was so caught up in tending to his plants that he never noticed the sudden rush of water from the nozzle attached to his hose, set aside where he had left it after last refilling his watering can. The water swirled like a small whirlpool and then rose, forming into the familiar shape of Liquidator. The watery dog stretched and then glided over to the plant-duck, tapping him on the back when Bushroot did not seem to notice his approach.
The startled Bushroot dropped his watering can and whirled around, relaxing once he saw who it was that had sneaked up on him. "Oh! Hi. I didn't hear you."
"The element of surprise is but one of the Liquidator's many features!" Liquidator replied, glib as usual.
"There's nothing wrong with knocking." Bushroot picked up his watering can again.
Liquidator chortled. "Nah, brings back too many bad door-to-door experiences for that. And don't mention the phone. Even I hate telemarketers."
Bushroot only shook his head with mild bemusement, and resumed watering the clematis vine in front of him. "So what brings you here?"
"Something to do," Liquidator answered with a shrug, looking around. "Half the city's lost power, but it doesn't seem to have gotten this far."
"Megavolt had a fit, huh?" Bushroot guessed.
"Might have. When I passed by Quackerjack, he was halfway off the deep end too."
Bushroot raised an eyebrow. "He was more than halfway there long before there even was a Fearsome Five."
Letting out a hearty laugh, Liquidator replied, "True, but I was being literal. He really was in the deep end, of the St. Canard park's diving pool." He made a face. "Even I wouldn't swim in that water now. Who knows what he put in it?"
The mention of water led Bushroot to wipe his forehead and lick the edge of his beak. A dip in a pool sounded like heaven, even if he would just as soon abstain from risking contact with any of Quackerjack's brand of wet noodles and inflatables. "I don't know, but he has the right idea about getting wet at least."
Liquidator quirked his head to the side and looked at the other super-villain. "You know, you do look a little limp." He reached for Bushroot's arm and curled his thick watery fingers around it. "Time for the plant manager to break for drinks!"
The sensation of Liquidator's cool, wet touch was much like Bushroot remembered the first taste of ice cream on a day like… well, a day like that. Except that he had not eaten ice cream since his mutation, or much of any food beyond nibbles and tastes for that matter, given that his digestive system had changed so drastically. Sun, soil, and a little plant food was all he really required, and more importantly, didn't blanch his leaves like the last time he had tried to eat "normal" food. True, it had been an extraordinarily spicy bowl of chili, but it put him off of non-fertilizer fare for three weeks nonetheless. "You're right," Bushroot said, setting his nearly empty watering can down after deciding there was not enough left in it to bother with if he was going to water himself. "Can you hand me that hose?"
Liquidator cast a brief and lazy glance over at the hose and then smiled back at Bushroot. "Ah, but why bother with the annoyance and inconvenience of rolling garden hose when you have the talents of the Liquidator at your disposal?" He spread his fingers and wiggled them for a moment before curling them onto the plant-duck's slender shoulders. "I've got all the water you could ask for, and I won't suddenly run hot or cold!" He paused, and then added in a sly tone, "Unless of course you make me mad, but since you're not Darkwing Duck, you don't need to worry about that!"
"Oh, okay. Thanks." Bushroot smiled back at Liquidator, a smile that widened in response to the pleasure he felt at the soft rush of water across his thirsty green skin. "Oooh, that's nice. Almost perfect."
Liquidator blinked, and his voice took on a mildly indignant tone. "Almost?"
"Er, uh, well I wasn't complaining. I just like it a little… just a bit warmer than that." Bushroot paused. "And maybe a little faster, that is if you don't mind."
Liquidator spread his fingers farther apart and pressed a touch harder. A gradual and gentle warmth flowed into the water from the aqua-dog's fingertips and into Bushroot's skin. "Better?"
Bushroot relaxed and rolled his head back ever so slightly as the refreshing liquid soaked in. "Oh, yes."
"The Liquidator aims to please!" Liquidator declared with a grin. Super-villain or not, Liquidator was first and foremost a salesman, and a good salesman took pleasure in satisfying his customers. "Customer satisfaction is not only a goal, but a guarantee!"
Easing back further into Liquidator's watery massage, Bushroot remarked, "You should bottle yourself. Plants everywhere would buy it."
"I do, remember?" The watery dog's teeth flashed in his smug grin. "But even I have to admit, I'm much better on tap." He leaned closer to Bushroot's head and then added in a lower tone, "However, if you want to pass on the word to your leafy friends…"
"I would, but they're broke like me. Who do you think keeps them in fertilizer? If it was up to Darkwing Drought, they'd go thirsty."
"Tell you what," Liquidator's eyes sparkled with mischief, "If they want to help slip him a vine where the sun doesn't shine, I'll give them one year's supply of Liquidator Brand crimefighter-fighting fuel for free."
Bushroot arched his head back so that Liquidator's watering cascade ran in gentle rivulets down his back and legs before soaking in completely. "Oooh, if you're making that offer, I'll give him two myself."
"An offer neither of us can refuse!" Liquidator quipped in response. He mirrored Bushroot's devious smile, imagining Darkwing painfully indisposed with something like a thorny blackberry vine or no, even better, poison ivy!
"Poison ivy," Bushroot murmured, smiling at Liquidator as though he had heard his thoughts in the water that he drank in from his body almost as fast as Liquidator was generating it. "A little clichéd, but classic nonetheless."
"As long as it causes unbearable pain and discomfort, guaranteed to make him suffer miserably day in and day out, with itching and burning pain, raging and raw agony…" The pressure of Liquidator's water flow increased with his enthusiasm, and he slid his hands absently down Bushroot's arms in such a way that he now held him in almost a full embrace, covering most of the plant-duck in a rushing flow of water. Bushroot did not protest, however, rather he seemed to welcome the immersion. He stretched his arms out into the pulsating flow, curling and uncurling his leafy hands, and laid his head back, eyes half-lidded with pleasure, onto Liquidator's more solid shoulder. A curious and sly smile curled the edges of the water dog's lips as he noticed how much Bushroot seemed to enjoy being watered in such a way. It struck him as surprising, yet fascinating, how what he had initially offered as a mundane courtesy had become such a pleasurable, even intimate, act. And not just to Bushroot.
Liquidator shifted his stance, allowing Bushroot to settle more deeply into the flow of water he delivered. He smoothed his hand, and then the rest of his arm, sensuously along the length of the plant-duck's outstretched limb. Liquidator's fingertips flowed over and entwined with the leaves that comprised Bushroot's hands, creating fresh currents and swirls of subtly shifting temperature and pressure for him to take in. Bushroot's leaves twitched as they drank it all in, and he inhaled sharply, his purple petal-hair brushing pleasantly against Liquidator's watery chin as he did so. Liquidator felt the draw on his water begin to grow in intensity, becoming more and more demanding by the moment. It was as if Bushroot was sucking him in like a sponge—a thirsty sponge, a writhing, wanting, and eager sponge that wanted nothing more than to be filled. Permeated. Penetrated. Faster and harder, now…
The realization of what they were doing struck Liquidator like lightning. Sex had been something he thought of little more than in passing since Bud Flood's unfortunate accident in the Koo Koo Fizzy Water factory. After that, revenge had been the primary passion that consumed him, that and greed, and it was not like there were buxom water-dog women swimming around him right and left to distract him otherwise. The Liquidator was one of a kind, and until that moment, he had not even considered how that plumbing worked in his new body. But as he looked down at the near orgasmic plant-duck in his wet embrace, however, he could not help but think that Bushroot had the same exact expression on his face as the women he'd had in the sack as Bud Flood. It also pleased him more than a little to note that Bushroot seemed to find him just as exciting, if not more so, as they did.
"You're very thirsty tonight, Reggie," Liquidator murmured playfully as he withdrew his water the slightest bit, easing the pressure so that Bushroot had to draw harder for it.
His action had the desired effect, namely, teasing and frustrating Bushroot mid-drink. His eyes snapped open abruptly, smoldering with impatience and urgency. "Very."
Liquidator grinned. "Then let Liquidator's special brand of drink quench your insatiable thirst." He lengthened his aqua arm and snaked it around Bushroot's midsection, his fingers tracing new currents over his torso that flowed at his command and will, across the smooth green leaf-like flesh and over his woodier hip. Bushroot's body drew its own current in response, pulling greedily at what Liquidator offered, even as the water flowed with more pressure. The intense exchange caused a rush in Liquidator's own senses, one that very much mirrored the sensual pleasure he remembered experiencing in his lost flesh body. And much like he would have done had he still been Bud Flood with a willing victim of his charms in his arms, the Liquidator was no less determined to have his way with the flustered flower-duck he had now.
Bushroot let out a half groan, half gasp as Liquidator's powerful surge of water rushed into him, flooding his senses. His leaf-like hands flexed in the current, as if trying to catch something substantial to hold onto, but Liquidator only remained solid enough to be grasped from the shoulders up, holding Bushroot upright through the sheer force of the flowing water that comprised the rest of him. His wet lips nipped at the underside of Bushroot's fluffy purple petal-hair, his breath far hotter and more humid than the summer night air. "Still thirsty?"
"Yes." The distracted edge to Bushroot's response only made Liquidator want to tease him more. He drew back the pressure of his water for a moment, and then thrust it forward powerfully, swirling it hard around the lower half of Bushroot's body.
"More?" Liquidator's voice was smooth as a drink of top-notch whiskey.
"Yes!" Bushroot was not even bothering to—or was utterly unable to—hide his desire at that point.
"Coming right up!" Liquidator swirled and swished his water once more, that time forming a nearly-solid mass inside the wave that slid suggestively along Bushroot's leg and thigh before it too pushed in to be absorbed, in tandem with a pulsating flow that penetrated the plant-duck's body from all sides, making Bushroot gasp out loud. Liquidator did not bother to pause for effect or tease him further before doing it again, and then again. "Another stiff drink, just for you, courtesy of the Liquidator!" Bubbling with excitement, Liquidator solidified his fingers just enough to get a firm grasp on Bushroot, now rigid with turgor pressure with his beak half-parted, panting in ecstasy. Liquidator sloshed back and flooded forth again, and then again, until Bushroot began to tremble all over. Seemingly every inch of his body drank in Liquidator, so powerfully that Liquidator began to feel dizzy, until the pressure suddenly reversed and Liquidator felt a rush of water from Bushroot countering his own. Bushroot let out a telltale groan of pleasure as he then fell back against Liquidator's shoulder with an utterly blissful—and mildly embarrassed—look on his face.
Liquidator had no such shame. He grinned down at the spent Bushroot like Quackerjack let loose in a toy factory, and generated a violent whirlpool from the lower half of his body that surrounded Bushroot and tickled him right down to the root hairs before exploding outward in a watery spray that soaked everything in a ten foot radius. A few seconds passed in silence before Bushroot straightened back to standing on his own, and he met the gaze of the still-smirking Liquidator.
"Uh, thanks. That was… good." Bushroot could not hide his own smile, but quickly looked away, feeling more and more self-conscious about how caught up in it he had gotten, especially after he noticed Spike shaking water off of himself and giving them both an odd look.
"Anytime! The Liquidator loves satisfied customers. If you're not satisfied, I'm not satisfied!" He elbowed Bushroot and gave him a sly look. "After all, satisfied customers are repeat customers!"
Bushroot cast him a quizzical look. "I didn't think I had to pay for it."
That led Liquidator to burst out laughing. "Of course not! What makes you think I'm that kind of dog?" He paused and frowned for a moment. "Don't answer that." Liquidator's charming smile then returned, and he put an arm around Bushroot's shoulder. "Though I admit I didn't expect that after just one drink. My last girlfriend made me buy her dinner three times first. And don't get me started on my ex-wife!"
Bushroot's expression went from bemused to wide-eyed as he caught on to Liquidator's innuendo. "Wait a minute! I know I got a little carried away there, but that wasn't… I mean, we didn't—?"
That time it was Liquidator's turn to raise a brow. "Oh, didn't we?"
"Then why do I have this sudden urge for a cigarette?" Liquidator countered with a leer. "Especially considering I don't think this body could smoke even if I wanted to."
"No! I mean, just because I… well still that's not… sex." Bushroot enunciated the word in a lowered voice, an edgy and distracted whisper, almost as if he was embarrassed that his plants might hear.
Liquidator's shit-eating-grin returned. "Could've fooled me."
Bushroot was emphatic. "No."
The water dog remained silent as far as giving further verbal argument, but his waggling eyebrows said it all anyway.
"We weren't even naked!" Bushroot exclaimed, and before Liquidator could point out the obvious, he hastily amended, "Well you know what I mean. Mutant plant-ducks and dogs made out of water don't usually wear clothes anyway, but we weren't… well we weren't in bed or anything."
Liquidator chortled. "Oh come on Reggie, I know you scientist types don't get out much, but a bed isn't required."
"No, but certain organs are! And I'm a plant. My gametes are on my head for crying out loud." He pointed to the stamens protruding from his purple mane.
Gliding over to his side, Liquidator playfully slipped his hand through Bushroot's petal hair, twirling the flowery filaments between his fingers. "Is this your way of saying that next time you want some head?"
"I'm being serious!" Bushroot retorted, feeling a burning blush of sap in his cheeks. He fervently hoped Liquidator would not notice.
He did, but chose not to comment on it and instead drew his hand back, though not before leaving a cool trickle of water to run down the back of Bushroot's neck. "So am I," Liquidator replied smoothly. "But if it bothers you that much, I won't mention it again. You have your hose, I suppose." He shrugged and glided backwards, toward the door.
"No, wait!" Bushroot sighed; whatever had happened between them, offending Liquidator was not what he wanted to do. "That's not what I meant. Don't leave, Li—Lick—oh son of a broccoli, what do I even call you now, if we, uh… well you know?"
Liquidator's smug smile returned, reinforced tenfold by Bushroot's roundabout admission of interest. "I used to like to be called 'Buddy'." There was a slightly wistful note in his voice as he answered. "Especially by the girls, and my customers of course."
A cynical expression darkened Bushroot's features. "By the ones you screwed, you mean? Gee, thanks."
"Well I wouldn't put it that way." He quirked his head, giving Bushroot a wry look. "And aside from what Dipwing Dork would have the world believe, I liked most of my customers. It was the competition I had it in for." He thumped Bushroot on the back. "Besides, I didn't think you were my customer. You did say you weren't paying for it."
Folding his arms, Bushroot informed him in a huff, "Well I'm certainly not your 'girl' either!"
"No, more like a partner in crime." Liquidator's dark blue eyes sparkled with mirth, and he added slyly, "a partnership with full benefits!" He underscored the sentiment by putting an arm around Bushroot's shoulders.
Bushroot opened his beak to say something, but found that no words came. Liquidator's arrogance, not to mention his presumptuousness, was galling, but at the same time, his charisma and warmth were equally powerful, and try as he might, Bushroot could not stay very irritated at him. "It figures," Bushroot said after a long moment. "All these years by myself, wishing I had someone... and when it actually happens, I wind up doing it with…" His voice trailed off with a rueful chortle. "Sometimes I think the universe has a very sick sense of humor."
The sulky admission of loneliness caught Liquidator by surprise. "I didn't think it'd been all that long since you changed. The, ahem, incident at the university happened only a few weeks before my accident."
"No, that wasn't that long ago." He sighed. "But my prospects weren't much different as Dr. Reginald Bushroot, the ordinary duck. I used to think Rhoda might like me the way I liked her but," he frowned, "well, we both know that was wrong. And before her…" Bushroot stared off through the greenhouse glass into the night. "Let's just say you were right, I didn't get out much. I've never been that close to anyone."
Liquidator blinked. "You mean you never…?" He leaned closer, his curiosity piqued. "How old are you, Reggie?"
"Old enough for you to mock me for it," Bushroot retorted sullenly.
"Never?" Liquidator repeated, a note of incredulity in his voice. "I mean, not even at a party, or a one night fling kind of thing?"
Bushroot did not respond, only looked back at him.
"What about the nerdy girls… or even, you know, that part of town with the enterprising young ladies who cater to those sorts of needs for a reasonable fee?" The water dog sneered. "The part of town Darkwing probably has to hit when he's out of costume to get laid. I doubt a cold fish like Morgana Macawber will put out much for him!"
The pot shot at their enemy only elicited a brief snerk from Bushroot before he responded. "Just because I tried to bring a potato bride to life doesn't mean I don't have standards for intimate companionship!"
"Ah!" Liquidator grinned. "So then, the Liquidator not only meets, but surpasses, the quality standards set by today's discriminating consumer, hmmm?" He bowed and leered at Bushroot, who slapped a leafy palm against his bill at Liquidator's blatant display of ego. If Liquidator was fazed in the least by it, however, he did not show it. He leaned casually against one of the greenhouse tables. "You look dead on your roots. I'd offer you a drink, but I think you've had enough already." He folded his arms and gave a wink. "Not to mention I'm a little tired myself, if you know what I mean."
"I am tired," Bushroot admitted, and then yawned. "I feel like I could root down and sleep through the sunrise."
"Feeling peaked, worn out, exhausted? A good night's sleep after a Liquidator full body treatment will work wonders!" Liquidator flowed onto the tilled ground beside where Bushroot chose to plant himself for the night. Spike was already beside the plant-duck, panting for attention that he was absently giving in the form of gentle strokes to the back of his head. Both watched contentedly as Liquidator drew himself into a seated position next to them. Still grinning, he continued in a quieter, but no less charming and playful tone, "Act tonight, and get a special offer of afterglow companionship and pillow talk. You won't get this from just any bozo that buys you a drink and has his way with you!"
Bushroot could not help but chortle. "I don't even have pillows."
"Probably for the best, I'd get the sheets wet anyway."
Looking from Liquidator to the ground, Bushroot then pointed a leafy fingertip at the soil beside them. A second later, two large puffy white blooms emerged from the ground. "Will you settle for hydrangea hybrids? They like water."
Content, Liquidator stretched out and settled down, resting his head on the fluffy flower pillow, his watery ears flopping to each side as he did so. "Certainly! You've got yourself a deal, Reggie."
Mirroring Liquidator's happy countenance with one of his own, Bushroot dug his root-feet into the dirt and laid his head upon his own petal pillow. He felt Spike nuzzle in against his elbow as he closed his eyes, the last thing he saw before shutting them being Liquidator's trademark smile. "Good night," Bushroot said, and then after a moment, added with a touch of sincerity, "Buddy."