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Suck My Dick, I'm A Shark

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         Thomas rubbed the sleep from his eyes, yawning deeply as he stared at the road.  He had been spending the past week in San Francisco and rather than take a plane as he normally had, he instead chose to drive.  He always enjoyed the scenery of the state in which he lived--why else, in a few years time, would he and his partner have chosen to film Electroma in the dazzling, desert landscape?  Well, Guy-Man was never to terribly enjoy the time spent directing out in the middle of bone-dry nowhere, but, with help from Thomas, he would endure nonetheless.--driving was just so soothing. Especially when no one else was on the road to distract him from nature's wonder.
         Driving for nearly six hours, it was nearly eight in the morning by the time Thomas entered the foothills of his adopted home city.  The sun was just peeking up over the hills when he received a phone call.  Yawning, again, he picked up his cell phone and held it to his ear, “Hello?” he questioned groggily.
         “Thomas, where are you?” Guy-Man’s voice echoed back to him from the receiver; his voice sounded strained, almost as if he were in pain.
         “Almost home.  Is something wrong?”
         “Thank fuck.” Was Guy-Man’s reaction to that news, “Look, get home as fast as you can, I’m having, uh, I’m having a small problem with something.”
         “You’re not hurt are you?!  Should I call an ambulance?”
         “Fuck, no!  No, don’t do that!  I’m not hurt, just…”  He took a long, wheezing breath, “Just hurry up home, I’d rather explain this to you in person.”  Guy-Man hung up the phone and Thomas floored the gas pedal.


         In the past three months that Guy-Man had been coming to live with Thomas, he supposed that he had been acting stranger than usual.  Thomas always chalked up the new idiosyncrasies to Guy-Man being nervous about living in California for a longer period of time and also partial excitement.  A home of his very own was currently being built in the hills not far from Thomas’s own.
         Anyway, it stood to say that the behavior Thomas observed was nothing near standard.  It wasn’t that Guy-Man had never had the capacity to be described as “touchy”, but irascible beyond reason was the best way to outline his moods as of late.  Thomas had had his theories, the biggest one being his recent secession of smoking, however, there were other worrisome things that he had observed.  There had been excessive, obsessive scratching, constant bathing, some juvenile whining about his skin being too sensitive and incessant dialing the air conditioner down to fifty.  Taking also into account Guy-Man’s inexplicable weight loss in spite of a voracious--and bizarre--appetite and night sweats that left the bed saturated, Thomas was worried that his condition was coming to a head.
         He felt bad that his recent vacation had actually been to get away from Guy-Man’s weirdness.  Never before had he felt the urge to run away from his friend, but he needed some peace.  It really didn’t help either that something had apparently happened in his absence.  Guy-Man wouldn’t have to say anything for him to beat himself up over this for quite some time if it turned out he was in bad shape.


         Not even taking the time to remove his key from the front door of his house, Thomas raced in through the foyer.
         “Guy?!”  He called into the house.
         “Upstairs!”  Came a wheezing reply, barely loud enough for Thomas to hear.
         Taking the stairs two or three at a time with his freakish giraffe legs, Thomas sped towards his voice.  Seeing Guy-Man’s door open, he entered the man’s space, seeing him laying in his bed in the darkness, his eyes closed, mouth pressed into a hard line and rapid breaths coming in sharp wheezes.
         “Are you okay?  What happened?”  Thomas’s eyes fell on Guy-Man’s arms, in the low light he couldn’t tell exactly what he was looking at, only that he appeared to have a series of rough patches on his skin.  Not to mention a peculiar growth from his elbows and a slight deformation of his hands.
         “I need you to do two things for me.”  Guy-Man hissed through his low breath volume, only parting his lips enough to get the words out and refusing to open his eyes.
         Knowing Guy-Man’s recent cutaneous sensitivity, Thomas refrained from touching his arm, also, he wasn’t sure if that scaly rash was contagious or not, “What?”
         “The first is don’t ask questions, the second is, fucking pick me up and take me to your bathtub.”
         "Wha--"
         "No questions!" Guy-Man screeched in a voice of metal utensils scraping against a plate.
         "O-Okay!" The noise had both surprised and terrified the younger man.  He had never heard him make anything similar in all his years knowing him.  Quickly throwing the blankets the rest of the way off his friend, the shriek he let out was anything other than dignified.
         Guy-Man miserably moaned as Thomas stumbled backwards, his mouth hanging open wordlessly.  After the initial shock left he he spent a few seconds stuttering and gesturing and Guy-Man screeched again at him "No! Questions!  Bathtub!"
         "What do you mean 'no questions'?!  You have a damn fish tail!"  Thomas frantically motioned to the long and muscular, vertical fin curled to one side.
         "I'm dying, Thomas! I don't have time for this!"  Guy-Man diverted the conversation, finally opening his eyes, their seeable surfaces nothing but wide, black pupils.
         “Dying?” Thomas choked, laying his own incredulity aside for a moment and trying to swallow his fear of the black holes boring into him from his friend’s direction.  “Moving you to the bathtub will help?”
         “Yes, that will make me not die!”  Guy-Man roared, Thomas averting his gaze as soon as he saw his teeth were all filed to fine points.
         He could move him, he just wouldn’t look at his face, yeah.  Leaning down over him and hearing Guy-Man sigh with relief, he put one arm just under his friend’s shoulder blades, finding his skin sliding on a slick, sludge-like substance that he wasn’t going to think about.  His other arm, he wrapped around the man’s tail, he recalled petting a shark once and it was quite similar.  Except the shark had been wet and Guy-Man appeared bone dry save for the peculiar patch on his back.
         “Damn, you’re heavy.”  Thomas grunted, lifting him from bed.
         “Drop me, Bangalter, and I’ll eat your legs.”  He heard the thing in his arms hiss along with feeling arms wrap around his shoulders.  At such a prompting, Thomas tightened his grip and began to head for his bathroom.  At least breathing didn’t appear to be as laborious a task as it had been prior to being lifted.
         Entering the master bedroom and traveling through to the connected bathroom, Thomas flipped on a few lights, noting the way Guy-Man hissed and hid his face against his shoulder.  Just before depositing him into the large, whirlpool bathtub, Thomas turned on the water and closed the drain.  Trying to put Guy-Man down was something of a poorly choreographed nightmare as Thomas tried to sit him down laying on his back and Guy-Man was wordlessly insisting being put down on his stomach.  In the end, Guy-Man flopped gracelessly out of Thomas’s arms, his flailing tail slapping just about everything on the sides of the bathtub all over the floor.
         “You could’ve said something.” Thomas muttered, watching as Guy-Man pulled himself over to the faucet by his arms.  His eyes, however fell upon red, gooey smears on his friend’s back and he flicked his eyes to his arms, “You’re bleeding!” he panicked before rushing to get a towel.  For a few moments at least, while he wet the towel and wiped the blood off, he didn’t have to look at the weirdness laying in his tub.
         When he arrived back at the edge of the bathtub, Guy-Man had his mouth wide beneath the flow of the water.  At first, Thomas assumed him to be drinking, but after closer inspection found him to be inhaling the water.  His eyes returning to the bloody smears on Guy-Man’s back, he found five pairs of discernable slits in the skin beneath his shoulder blades; pink water flowed out of each of them and to the bathwater below.  Suddenly, the fish-man coughed, sending clots of blood out of the slits and nearly convincing Thomas that throwing up on his shoes was a good idea.
         The tail and gills aside, Thomas finally had adequate light to examine the rest of him.  For the most part, his skin was still the same color, albeit, less pink and displaying a slow bleed from peach to black along his spine and where his tail junctioned with what used to be his hips.  There was a shallow, translucent web of skin between each of his fingers that didn’t rise much farther than his second set of knuckles, at the end of each finger was a thin, curved nail that came to a point.  About where his butt normally would’ve been, was a very small, triangular dorsal fin, and around to his sides was a pair of pelvic fins.  The caudal fin seemed to be the main attraction of his anatomy, though, because the top was ridiculously long whilst the bottom comedically short.
         His best friend was a fish…
         He wasn’t going to handle this.
         Wordlessly, Thomas left the room just as Guy-Man laid his face down in the slowly-pooling water of the bathtub.

 

Chapter Text

         “Thomas?”  Guy-Man’s voice found its way to him after about a half hour of the two being apart.  The tall, exhausted man had purpose at first, leaving to close the front door and lock it, but other than that…  He by in large had just been sitting on his bed all the while, staring out the window at a tree.  “Thomas?!”
         “Yeah?” he groaned, his head in his hands.
         “C’mere.”
         “I’d rather not.” Thomas replied honestly.
         “Just don’t look at me then?” Guy-Man entreated, his voice quieter than before.
         Standing up, Thomas shuffled into the bathroom, his hands in his jeans’ pockets.  He stared at the tile, at the bath products, his feet, anything other than the person he was talking to.  “What’s up?”
         “I, uhm…  I guess I should say something about this.”
         “That’d be helpful.” Thomas muttered.
         “I’m uh…” he stopped to grouse to himself, “There isn’t really a word for it that doesn’t sound ridiculous.”
         “Mermaid?” the human offered.
         “Mer-man, jackass.” Guy-Man snorted, “Does it look like I have a vagina to you?”
         “It didn’t look like you had anything…” Thomas explained to his toes.
         “Oh…  I forgot mine are inside now…”
         “Did you just say are?”
         Guy-Man chuckled under his breath, “Mnheheheh, I have two.”
         Okay, Thomas couldn’t resist, he raised his head and looked to him as he asked “Seriously?!”
         A terrifyingly toothy grin split Guy-Man’s lips just above the surface of the water; instead of his black-saucer eyes as he had had in the dark--his pupils had narrowed down to tiny slits in the light, allowing Thomas to see the blue of his irises.  He wasn’t sure how long he could stand looking at him as he was and Guy-Man seemed to sense that discomfort.  The smile faded, his mouth became a thin line again and looked elsewhere in the bath.
         “For twice the pleasure.” the man muttered his joke.  His downtrodden mood lightened at least a little bit at Thomas’s chuckling, “I’d whip them out for your ichthyological pleasure, but they’re stuck unless I’m horny and I know that’s at the top of your list of things to do.”
         “Shut up, dude.” Thomas moaned into his hands, “How long have you been a fish?”
         Guy-Man rolled his eyes and clicked his tongue, “I thought that would be obvious, I’ve always been one.”
         “Then why has it taken you almost twenty years to mention something?!”  Thomas gesticulated with his arms.
         “It just never seemed important.” Guy-Man explained, his voice timid,  “This is not often a problem.” he waved him off, “So stop floundering around and chill.”
         “Did you just make a fish joke?”
         Guy-man smirked, “I might’ve; just for the halibut.”
         Glaring at him, Thomas warned, “I’m going to fillet and barbecue you.”
         “Not if I eat your fingers first.” Guy-Man snapped his teeth, feeling slightly ashamed after seeing how Thomas flinched back from him.
         “With you looking like a monster right now, that’s not the most comforting thing I’ve ever heard.”  Now it was Thomas’s turn to regret his word choice because Guy-Man submerged his head, and the rest of his body, completely under the water.
         He felt like he should apologize…  But he also felt like reaching his hand into the water where something that had really, really sharp teeth--that had also threatened on more than one occasion to eat him--was a bad idea.  Taking a deep breath and steeling his nerves, he breached the surface of the warm water and tapped Guy-Man’s shoulder.
         He only blew bubbles up at him so Thomas tapped him again.  Just more bubbles…
         “Dude, I’m sorry.”  Thomas cleared his throat, “I’m only so hesitant because don’t, uh, don’t mer--uh--people?”  Merpeople?  That’s probably it.  “Don’t they eat people, uh, humans?”  He recalled more than one tale of the fantastical race drowning people, but wasn’t that not far off from eating them?  Drown them then eat them?
         Guy-Man raised his head out of the water, his hair fallen over his face to shield it from view, “Yeah.” he solemnly replied, the syllable staunched ever so slightly by the water flowing out of his mouth.
         “N-Not that I’d think that you’d-you’d er…  Really try or anything, just…”
         “I’m not human, I get it.”
         “I’m just being stupid, I’m sorry.”  Thomas sighed, pulling the vanity stool over from the sink to sit down next to the tub.  “Because you’ve not been human the entire time that we’ve known each other, so…  It’s a non-issue, I suppose.”  Seeing that this small tidbit of information didn’t appear to be helping the awkwardness between them all that much, he needed to find a change of topic…  “So, uh, I’ve, uh…  I’ve met both your parents and you look like both of them, so…?”
         Guy-Man sighed, moving his hair out of his face and inhaling a little water before beginning to speak, “You’ve seen The Little Mermaid, right?”
         “Yeah?”
         “Imagine, instead of an annoying sixteen-year-old that doesn’t know shit about life, my mother.  Take out the sea-witch and put in good, old fashioned species evolving ways to make themselves less noticeable to the dominant, really violent apex predator on the planet and you have how I happened.”  Guy-Man bluntly explained, “Though, I’ll venture to say that Mom is different.  Most of us don’t give two shits about people and generally keep to ourselves. Uh, most of us don’t really have anything by way of feelings either, now that I’m thinking about it.”
         “So, your mother and dad…?”  Thomas motioned.
         “Oh, well, Mom’s different, she’s very old and,” Guy-Man shrugged, “some say that most mermaids or men die before they reach emotional maturity.  Obviously, not the case with Mom.”
         “And, uh, you?”  Thomas uneasily questioned.
         “I’m only half.”  he presented as if that should’ve been the only answer Thomas needed.  Seeing as Thomas wasn’t entirely getting the whole picture from said answer, he growled irritably, “If I’m half merperson, what’s the other half?”
         “Hu-maaan?”  Thomas hoped that this wasn’t a trick question.
         “Yeah,” Guy-Man nodded slowly for him as if he were an ignorant child, “and humans are nothing if not overly emotional.” he scoffed a little bit, “I’ve got more than my fair share of feelings.”
         “I don’t really think that’s a problem.”  Thomas asserted with a small smile.
         “Of course you wouldn’t.” Guy-Man smirked, still careful to keep his teeth hidden.
         “Um, if this isn’t a problem normally… Uh…  Why is it a problem, now?”
         Guy-Man shrugged, “This full-on business hasn’t been a problem in…”  he paused to think.  “Fifteen years?  That time it didn’t matter because I was with Mom and going on vacation to the beach anyway.”  Thomas almost asked why he wasn’t told, but he knew Guy-Man’s response would be anything other than positive.  “Mom changes whenever she wants and it’s practically instant, and there’s no bleeding.”
         “And what about you?”
         The man in the water growled, “It happens when I’m stressed and takes days, maybe weeks depending upon how I handle it.” he sighed then, “In the past, except for that one time, I’ve been able to hold it off until I’m not stressed anymore.  Moisturizing my skin or keeping it wet so it doesn’t dry out, eating the food that I crave, general trying to de-stress…”
         “So all the scratching was?”
         “My denticles were poking through my skin.” Not that Thomas knew exactly what those were...
         “And the weight loss?”
         “I’d love to see you rearrange your entire body and not expend all of your daily caloric intake.”
         Holding up three fingers, Thomas questioned, “The wheezing?”
         “My uh…”  Guy-Man huffed, “I have only one lung.”  By the look of “you’re shitting me” on Thomas’s face, Guy-Man knew he was going to have to elaborate.  “One of the first things that happens is, uh my lungs kind of fuse together…  And they move, specifically they move to my back.  They’re parallel with my spine.  Stress of any kind on my back or laying on my back pressed--presses the air out of me.”  Considering merely standing up straight or bending over could be called “stress” Thomas supposed that meant doing some upright, human things were pretty hard.
         “You’re shitting me…” No, that expression still hadn’t left Thomas’s face either.
         “No, my chest doesn’t move when I breathe.” Guy-Man offered as if it would be something Thomas would’ve noticed, “In general…” he suddenly sounded very self-conscious, “In general it’s best for me to not be upside down.  Er, on my back.”
         Trying to lighten the mood further with some humor, Thomas chuckled, “Is this something I’m going to have to try?”
         “Not unless you want to lose your face.”
         Again, trying to look at the situation as only talking to his friend and not a carnivorous water monster, Thomas forced a laugh.  He was going to have to change the subject once more before he said something else stupid, “Do you change back when you’re de-stressed?”
         “I can try to change back whenever I want.” he paused to take a few breaths of water, Thomas watching as the streams flowed out of the slits in his back.  Considering that the water that was expelled was clear, Thomas guessed that he’d finally cleaned them out of all the blood.  For a second, he considered asking him why they were filled with blood to begin with, but talking about his gills was pretty high up on the list of “squick”.
         When Guy-Man took his head from the water he resumed speaking, “Whether or not the attempt is successful is dictated by how I’m feeling and if I can deal with the exhausting process for the next week.  If I can’t, I just revert back.  When I was thirteen I spent two months like this.”  Thomas suddenly saw hesitation on his face, he couldn’t quite pick out what it must’ve been caused by, but he quickly moved on to other things because he realized he knew Guy-Man when he was thirteen.  Though his memories of the time were a little choppy, he did seem to remember that right as they were starting to really become friends, Guy-Man had disappeared from school for some time.  “Puberty for my kind starts when we’re six or seven and lasts a lot longer than it does in humans.  Though, since I’m only half, it ended when I was fifteen.  Although, since puberty for humans really takes off at that age, I still had a lot of itchy skin, blood cravings and my gills trying to make an appearance during that time.”
         “I never noticed.” Thomas chuckled.
         “Mom said it was best if I kept it all to myself; humans would never understand, etcetera.”
         “So, does your dad not know then?”
         “Oh, he knows…  I think he tries not to think about it or just ignores that its even a thing.”
         “Is Paul a merperson too?” Thomas wondered why it hadn’t occurred to him before.
         Guy-Man huffed, “No, it skipped him.  He gets the itchy skin from time to time and his back trying to split into gills, but,” he shrugged, “he has no tail and no, uh…  No bloodlust.”
         “Speaking of tails…”  Thomas turned his head to view the incredibly cramped-looking appendage, “Why do you have such a--”  Before Thomas could finish his question, there was the slosh of water before a swift, painful slap to his face that felt like wet sandpaper.  “Ow!” his hand raced up to rub his cheek to make sure he wasn’t bleeding.
         “That’s what it’s for.” Guy-Man huffed, settling back down into a comfortable position on his stomach.
         “For slapping me?!”
         “No, for slapping prey.” Another sharky smile from him and unadulterated fear on Thomas’s face had Guy-Man rushing to add, “And haters.”
         “I wasn’t hating on your…  I wasn’t hating.  It just looks funny.”
         “Okay, so I look like a really funny monster then?” he raised an eyebrow, waiting for Thomas’s response.
         “Dude,” Thomas sighed, “I’m sorry.  I’ve been driving for six hours, you called and I freaked out that something had happened and then I find this!” Thomas motioned to the general tub, “And it’s,” he looked to the clock on the wall, “almost nine A.M. and I’ve had no sleep!”
         Frowning, Guy-Man rested his chin on the edge of the tub, “I haven’t been able to sleep either.”
         “Will this help?” Once again, Thomas motioned to the bathtub.
         “Yeah, I’ll sleep at the bottom.” Guy-Man gave a wide-mouthed, yawn, Thomas being able to catch the rows and rows of pointy teeth before they hid from him again.  He needed to keep all vital appendages at least two feet away from that mouth at all times.  “Can you get me something to drink before you go to bed, though?”
         Narrowing his eyes at him a little, Thomas looked down at the water he was already sitting in.
         “Mmmng,” Guy-Man closed his eyes and shook his head, “this is fucking bathwater, Thomas!  It tastes like soap scum and dead skin!  Not to mention I should probably change it because my gills were bleeding everywhere.”  Appearing more like a seal, Guy-man turned his body to face the faucet, pulling up the plug of the tub to let the water out.  “I should have a jug of spring water in the fridge downstairs.”
         “O-Okay…”  Thomas stood and hurried from the bathroom, taking off his shirt as he went and tossing it into the hamper by his bed.  He stretched as he left his bedroom and took the stairs like a normal human being was supposed to.  Going up three at a time was doable, but going down three at a time was basically like begging the gods to make him twist an ankle; and considering it was likely that he was going to be carrying Guy-Man around at some point, that was not something he really wanted to do.
         Once in the kitchen, Thomas located the half-empty jug of water Guy-Man had spoken of.  When debating whether or not just to bring the whole jug up to him, he remembered an incident a few weeks ago.  That was, when Thomas had entered the kitchen, Guy-Man had been holding a sea-salt grinder over a glass of water, or less just holding it and more grinding the salt into it.  Guy-Man had left once Thomas asked what he had been doing and Thomas thought nothing of his silence as Guy-Man had been preferring that method of “response” in the past months.  All the same, Thomas caught him later on in the day drinking a cloudy glass of water…
         Humming thoughtfully and hoping he wasn’t wrong, he pulled down a glass and poured some of the jug into it.  He found his sea-salt grinder--Guy-Man had ostensibly bought a new one as the one in the cabinet was larger than the old one and was also full--and began to grind a considerable amount of salt into the glass.  In the event that he was wrong, he was still going to bring him the jug of water, but maybe this would be appreciated as he recalled most sharks living in salt water.
         He’s not just a shark though…  He reminded himself, but his morphology was most similar to a shark, so he was going to go with that until Guy-Man told him otherwise.
         After stirring the water and making sure all the salt had dissolved, Thomas carried the two vessels back up the stairs to his bathroom.  Guy-Man appeared to be enjoying whatever water it was he could find as he was inexplicably thrashing his head about in the water.
         “Are you okay?” Thomas chose to ask, seeming to surprise the man as he jumped and ceased his silly motions.  He looked up to Thomas and sniffed slightly, he said nothing on the matter and coughed into his hand instead.  How could he not laugh at that?
         “Shut up!” Guy-Man ordered, planting his head back under the water and releasing a stream of bubbles.
         Still chuckling, Thomas sat back down on the stool and tapped his back once setting the glass of saltwater down on the ledge of the tub.  Grudgingly, Guy-Man lifted his head out of the water again to look at him.
         “I brought you some water.”  Thomas indicated the glass sitting to Guy-Man’s left.  Thomas tried to not note the long, sharp nails on Guy-Man’s hand as he lifted the glass to his lips, but he couldn’t help but notice the shudder in Guy-Man’s body as he sipped the saltwater.  “Is that okay?”
         As the other man’s eyes closed in apparent bliss, Thomas was willing to bet it was more than okay, “It’s good.” Guy-Man answered under his breath, “It’s really good.” he swallowed the rest of the glass making Thomas cringe at the thought of drinking such a salty substance.  “Drinking this shit is nasty when I’m human.” Guy-Man shook his head in a moment of implacable understanding, “But fuck if it isn’t the best shit ever right now.” he gave a rasping chuckle, putting the glass aside and settling back down into the water.  “Did you bring the plain jug up too?”  Thomas shook the plastic container and Guy-Man nodded before flicking a hand at him like “shoo-shoo”, “Go to bed.”
         “Gladly.” Thomas stood, leaving the jug of water on his seat, “Night.” he bid, turning off the light and closing the door to the bathroom.  Hopefully all of this fishy business would stay out of his dreams

 

Chapter Text

         Noon of the same day rolled around and Thomas rolled out of bed, literally.
         With an “oof!” he hit the floor and sighed.  He wondered if Guy-Man--Guy-Man who was a fish, who was sleeping underwater in his bathtub, who was probably going to need to be fed soon--was awake yet.  If he was still asleep, maybe he could have some time to himself, some coffee…  He really needed to figure out what they were going to do about this whole thing because he couldn’t just stay in his bathtub.  There were very few outlets for his own entertainment or creative juices…  Given that Guy-Man somewhat required to be wet at all times, that was not really a situation conducive to working with electrical equipment…  Not unless he wanted to fry his best friend--the very thought of which made Thomas want to cry.
         Operation de-stress Guy needs to be a thing and soon.  He internally remarked, standing up and shuffling out of his room in just his underwear.


         Oh, coffee…  He couldn’t think of anything better to start the day with.  Slightly, he wondered if Guy-Man would want any.  He could put salt in it for him if he wanted; it didn’t sound like a particularly tasty thing to Thomas, but maybe it did to his fishy friend.  As he stared into the black, loving, velvet abyss of his coffee, he began to think he heard something.  Lifting his head, he listened to see if the sound came again, but shrugged and went back to enjoying his mug.
         “Thomaaaaaaas!” Met his ears in an almighty, screeching voice of tearing metal and baby angels crying.  He sat his mug down on the counter and held his hands over his ears, he wasn’t even sure how Guy-Man was being that loud!  And, on a level deeper than just wanting to respond to his name and his friend, he felt that if he didn’t listen he was going to kill himself.  Maybe that was an overstatement, but the urge to follow the abhorrent, melodic scream was strong enough to make him, once more, take the stairs in threes until he was standing in front of Guy-Man in the dark bathroom.
          “What?!”
          “Good morning.” Guy-Man grinned at him, forcing him to look away, the teeth combined with the black saucers for eyes never failed to creep him the fuck out.
         “It’s not morning…”  He commented offhandedly as the fact that he was standing in a giant puddle of water set-in.
         He clicked his tongue, “Good afternoon.”
         “Why is there so much water on the floor?”  Thomas questioned, “Did you try to crawl out?”
         The merman flicked his eyes to the puddle and then back up to Thomas before shrugging, “Was like that when I woke up.”
         Raising an eyebrow at him, Thomas chose to move right along to the real reason that he had been needing to attend his friend, “Care for a spot of tea?”
         “Mmmn, coffee.”
         “Five salt crystals or none?”
         “None or I’ll have your ass.”
         “Well, with an attitude like that Gill-aume, I might have to reconsider my offer.”
         “I swam right into that.” Guy-Man tried not to laugh at the terrible joke.
         “Sure did, chum.”
         “Thomas, stop it.”
         “You started it last night, you can’t carp about this.”
         “Thomas!”
         “Don’t be so wobbegong, I’m just trying to take some weight off the situation.” Thomas chuckled as his friend thrashed about in the tub.  He lunged to grab him, but stepped just out of Guy-Man’s reach.
         “I’ll take some weight off you!” the merman screeched.
         “The exact weight of my arms and legs?”
         Flopping limply over the ledge of the bathtub, Guy-Man’s arms spread out at odd angles on the tile of the floor, “Thomas,” he whined, “I’m hungry.”
         “Well…  What would you like?”  Thomas questioned, dubious as to what Guy-Man’s answer could possibly be.
         “I don’t want to say.” Guy-Man admitted, pulling his human half back into the water.
         “I’ve uh… I’ve seen you eat some pretty gross stuff over the past few months, I think I can handle it.”
         Guy-Man let out a noise of discomfort, “I want tuna.  But… Not the kind you buy at the grocery store here.”
         “Then, what kind do you want?”
         “The kind with the head still on.” he muttered, “And still bleeding.” his voice dwindled to a whisper.  “Um, but tuna is also huge, so, I won’t ask that.  Mackerel instead, again, uh, fresh if you’re willing to do that for me.”
         “Okay, I’m going to be honest, gross…  Do you plan to eat that in my bathtub?”
        The merman had his arms crossed under the water, “It’s not like I can sit at the table and do it, Thomas…” he cleared his voice and swallowed, feeling self-conscious, “I’ll be clean about it...”
         Humming, Thomas sucked on his tongue for a moment, “All right, uhm, can we work up to that?”
         “And this is why I didn’t want to say anything.” he puffed, wishing he had some way to hide himself from Thomas.
         “I’m just saying that you have a tuna steak in the refrigerator downstairs and some cod fillets.  There’s also a bit of salmon to get rid of…  I’m not going to eat the tuna or the salmon so I would rather we get rid of those first.”
         Guy-Man nodded trying to find a better position for his tail, but even with the master tub being the largest in the house, it wasn’t happening.  He made a frustrated noise in the end and hit his forehead against the slanted back of the tub.  Hungry, uncomfortable and unable to move from a fairly small space a happy-go-lucky Guy-Man did not make.
         “Do you want me to pull you out so you can stretch?”  Thomas offered, feeling that he needed to offer some sort of consolation to his friend in lieu of his evident apprehension.
         “It would help the cramps in my tail, but without water it would only help so much.” Guy-Man grumbled, slapping the water irritably with his oversized caudal fin.
         “You’re right…”  Thomas went back to thinking.  Apart from buying a gigantic aquarium he was coming up with zip.  If only it was normal for people to keep giant reservoirs of gallons and gallons of water on their property whilst living in a hot climate and hey--“I have a pool!” Thomas offered, not bothering to hide the excitement in his voice.
         Guy-Man couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm, but there was one problem with that, “It’s chlorinated, Thomas.” he intended to gently remind but ended up sounding decidedly more hostile.
         “Oh…”  Back to the drawing board.  “Maybe laying on your back instead of your stomach would help a little?”
         “I already told you, me being upside down is a bad idea.” Guy-Man grunted, “Not doing it.”
         “That’s not the same as being upside down, though…”
         Rolling his eyes much like a science teacher talking to the one idiot student that just wasn’t getting a simple biology lesson, Guy-Man very slowly explained, “Humans are meant to be upright, your main means of locomotion dictate that, I-fucking-E, your legs.  Merpersons--and fish--can swim vertically, but we don’t have to support ourselves upright.  So, naturally, evolution has our insides built differently.  Your organs and inner ear are oriented vertically, your bottom being your feet and your top being your head.  Mine are oriented horizontally.  My behind is my tail, my back is my up my stomach is my down.”
         “I think I get it…  So, what happens if I invert you?  Because you were on your back when I found you yesterday.”
         “Not talking about this, get my coffee.”
         Not moving an inch, Thomas seemed to be waiting for something.
         “Get my coffee, please.” he unenthusiastically emended.
         “I’ll get your tuna while I’m down there too.”  Thomas moved to exit the room, but paused, casting his friend an anxious look before asking, “Um…  I’m going to guess you want it raw?”  His friend gave him a tense nod and he barely stopped himself from shivering just as the disgust set-in.  He supposed there was nothing wrong with eating fish raw, he ate sushi after all--unsurprisingly, now that he thought about it, a favorite of Guy-Man’s--but the tuna steak in the fridge, last he had seen, was saturated in blood…  Probably just the way he likes it.  Thomas cringed as he left the room.
         “Thank you.” Guy-Man called after him as he let the water out of the bathtub to change it again.


         As Thomas passed his office on his way to the kitchen, he chose to divert his course to said room.  He turned on his computer and waited for it to boot up before selecting Internet Explorer.  Having opened said web browser, he stared at the search page blankly for a few seconds--why was he there again?  Sucking on his tongue he knew it had something to do with Guy-Man, because why else would he be this confused?  As he stared at the screen his thoughts drifted back to the pool conundrum.  The pool was their best bet for giving Guy-Man some space to move around, but the chlorine in it certainly did pose some risks for his friend’s gills, eyes and maybe even his skin.  Though, now that he was thinking about it, hadn’t Guy-Man mentioned something about getting a pool in his backyard?  Sure, the house he was moving into wasn’t even totally built yet, but what had he said about his pool?
         A saltwater…  Pool?  Thomas wondered if that was even a thing.  If it was real, he was banking that Guy-Man was going to have one, given his particular affiliation.  His fingers jumping into action, Thomas typed his question into the search engine.
         …
         …
         …
         Goddamn this internet thing was slow.
         …
         …
         …
         Okay, yes, it was a thing.  Good.  At least the internet saved him a couple hours of manual searching and asking ridiculous questions of pool-building companies.
         “How do I…  Convert…  Pool?”  he murmured to himself as he typed out his next question.  The question was strangely much easier answered than Thomas had been expecting.  It seemed that the conversion to a saltwater pool was easy if not slightly expensive.  There were also many benefits of having a saltwater pool, one of many being it was more ecofriendly and to Thomas that meant “Guy-friendly”.
         Now…  Could he buy what he needed offline?  A quick couple of clicks later told him that, yes, yes he could.
         “Score.” he whispered triumphantly to himself.  Apparently it would have to wait though as there was a lot research he was going to have to do of how much salt he was going to need for his pool, how big his pool was and so forth.  He was also  pretty sure he was hearing something from his peripheral again and if it was anything like last time, he needed to get Guy-Man’s things before he made that noise again.  That noise that both sounded like nails on a chalkboard and the pleasant tinkling of a wind chime simultaneously.
         “Thomas!”  He heard from upstairs.
         “Don’t scream!  I can hear you!” he then quickly supplied, “I just got distracted!”  Not wanting to provoke Guy-Man into making his “listen to me now” dinn, he stood and raced into the kitchen.  Taking the slab of red tuna meat from the refrigerator, he put it in the microwave for a few seconds so it wasn’t quite so cold, but also didn’t begin to cook.  He also threw some of the morning coffee into a mug refraining from decorating it with either cream or sugar.  Guy-Man’s favorite coffee was like his eyes, Thomas mused, black and bitter.  In an attempt to not overlook anything Guy-Man possibly wanted, he took a bottle of water out of the fridge and ground about a tablespoon of salt into it.
         Arranging the coffee, the bottled water and the plate of warm, bleeding flesh on a tray, Thomas’s stomach flipped over a bit.  The whole sight seemed particularly surreal to him, it was domestic yet foreboding.  Given that he had caught Guy-Man forgoing utensils more often than not, Thomas could say he had put the fork and knife on the tray for his own comfort rather than for Guy-Man’s use.  Anything to detract his mind from his friend being quite close to an animal rather than a human.


         “Room service!” Thomas joked upon re-entering the bathroom, finding that Guy-Man actually had been using the bathtub for its intended purpose during his absence.  He was busy washing soap out of his hair--which Thomas realized was significantly longer than it had been the day prior and had an unusual, dappled black and green tint to it--beneath the tap of the running bath.  “You’re going to cost me a fortune.” Thomas joked.
         “You really wouldn’t like me anymore if I didn’t do this.”  Guy-Man commented, running his fingers through his hair.
         “I’ve never given thought to whether or not fish-people smell bad.” he chuckled.
         “I’ll go a few days without bathing, you’ll see.” Guy-Man assured, “You never noticed it before either because I washed my hair every day.”
          “I’m getting the feeling that it’s very disgusting…”
          “Too bad, you’re going to see it anyway.”
         “Am I going to ocean it too?” Thomas quirked an eyebrow while Guy-Man’s hands dropped to the water in disbelief.
         “Come on, man, that was weak!”
         Tittering to himself, Thomas perched the tray of liquids and food down on the stool he normally sat on, “Lunch is served, my good sir.”
          “On a tray and everything, fancy.” Guy-Man giggled, reaching out for the mug of coffee and giving it a sip.  “Fuck, get in me.” he commented to the cup as he took another sip.  “Did you put salt in the water?”
         “Of course.” Thomas didn’t hold back a smile as his friend nodded, likewise smiling, albeit keeping his teeth from view.
         “Whatever it was, you can go back to doing it, I’ll be cool here for awhile…”  Guy-Man assured as he daintily picked up the supplied fork and knife.
         “Cool, let me know if you need anything…”  Thomas’s smile became strained as he turned to leave, “Just, uh, don’t do that one screaming thing…  You know what I mean.”
         “I won’t…” Guy-Man quickly responded, his untils still poised for use, yet not anywhere near his food.
         “Cool…”  Thomas closed the door to the bathroom and heard a muted clink before a gruesome noise from the other side.  He shivered with revulsion as he imagined the blood on Guy-Man’s face and dripping into the bathwater…  Yet again he needed a distraction from the reality of all of this and the internet was nothing if not willing to supply just that.

Chapter Text

         “Hello?  Yeah, do you carry dechlorinators?  …  You do?  How much do you think I would need for about a 26,000 gallon pool?  …  Okay, good, I’ll be by later.  Thank you.” Hanging up the phone, Thomas realized that this switching his pool to saltwater was going to be nearly a three day long endeavor and he didn’t even have a guarantee that Guy-Man would even still be a fish by the end of that.  He tried to look at it as a personal upgrade in some ways because saltwater pools being better for the environment and blah-blah, but with how much money it was going to cost him, was it really worth it?  Imagine if this happens again…  Yeah, he was pretty sure it was worth it.
         Picking his desk phone back up, the next thing on his list was to call the local tool-rental shop.  He flicked his eyes down to his phonebook as he typed in the numbers on the phone and waited for someone to pick up.
         “Hey, do you rent out sump-pumps? …  You do?  Good!  Eh, how much would it cost me to rent one for about…  Two days? …  Yeah, today.  ...  Ah, good.  …  Yeah, I’ll be by to get it later. …  Thomas Bangalter. …  Okay, thank you.”  He hung up the phone and grunted.  If he had intended to half-ass the whole conversion he would’ve just dechlorinated the pool and let the men coming to install the salination equipment in two days and not really lift more than a finger.  However, as he was more than somewhat concerned about left-over chemicals hiding in recesses of the pool having the potential to harm Guy-Man’s gills he had opted to drain the pool and refill it after cleaning.  Of course, though, due to municipal laws Thomas could only drain his pool after it had been dechlorinated (the long process taking at least ten days as opposed to a mere few hours with chemicals) and only during the hours between eight PM and eight AM.
         With only a few hours between his current standing and the time he would need to start draining the pool, he needed to get a move on.  First though, he needed to make sure Guy-Man would be okay on his own.
          He left his desk and climbed the stairs up to his bedroom; by the sounds of things, Guy-Man was emptying tub again and getting ready to refill it.  Between the month’s prior constant bathing, the bathtub being constantly refilled and the pool needing the same, he knew his water bill wasn’t going to be pretty. That aside, he knocked on the door, and waited for Guy-Man to answer, “What is it?!”
         “I’m heading out for a couple hours, is there anything you need?”
         Guy-Man was silent at first and Thomas wondered what it was he was thinking of.  Was he upset he was leaving?  Was he upset he couldn’t go with him?  After a good minute and a half of silence, Guy-Man finally answered “Just one thing…”


         “If I’m going to be stuck in here for the next conceivable week, I’m going to need something.”  Guy-Man grumped, Thomas sure hoping this wasn’t going to last that long.
         “Is this okay?” Thomas questioned as he sat a television down on a small stand away from the water of the bath.
         “Yeah, that’s good.”
         “You’re not going to ask me to bring any of your porn in here, are you?” Thomas joked, “I don’t do Fish-Girls Gone Wild.”
         “Shut up, Thomas.” Guy-Man slapped the water with his tail, Thomas beginning to laugh, “Other than Mom I’ve never even met another merperson.”
         “Really?”  Thomas blinked, “Not even her parents?”
         “Close families are a human concept.” Guy-Man shrugged, “Mom hasn’t seen her parents since she was like,” he rolled his eyes in thought, “ten.  That was a very long time ago.”
         “That sounds so lonely…” Thomas interjected with a frown.
         The merman nodded, “Why do you think Mom prefers humans?”  Thomas nodded in understanding, he really was grateful of that fact.  Without her affinity for humans he wouldn’t have his best friend.  “There was one other one I met.  He was old though and once he figured out I wasn’t female, he swam away.” Guy-Man chortled, “I think he smelled Mom on me and that was the only reason he even approached me to begin with.”
         “That must suck, never getting it on with some hot fish-babes.”
         “Haha, I don’t really know too well how that even works.” he continued to laugh, “Mom never expected me to need to know and so only gave me the basics because I was curious.”
         “Really?”
         “Eugh, I can’t even imagine.” Guy-Man’s tone took on disgust, “Fucking a fish.” he shivered in revulsion.
         “But uh, you are a, you know…  A fish.”
         “Never grew up thinking that shit was sexy though!  I like my girls to have legs…  And have soft skin and not…”  He shivered again, “And not take bites out of me.”
         “That sounds…  It sounds like fish sex is terrifying…”
         Guy-Man nodded rapidly, “All I know is that these two things,” he pointed down under the water, “go in one hole, we swim around for like fifteen minutes trying not to kill each other and then if she’s pregnant we do the parent thing for a couple years and then never talk to each other again.”
         “You’re not joking about the trying not to kill each other part, are you?” Thomas swallowed.
         “Mom’s got scars, dude.”
         “That’s… Yeah…  I can see why she prefers humans.”  Though, somewhere, as very imaginative man, he couldn’t help but wonder if she at all displayed her species’ typical mating habits when…
          “You better not be trying to imagine my mom having sex…”
          “As if it’s not equally disturbing for me?!”  Thomas quickly defended, “She’s practically my second mom!”
          They both cringed in unison, faces screwing up into expressions of infinite “ew”.
          “But, uh, here’s the remote.” Thomas placed it on the stool by the tub.  He had long been up to vacate it of its earlier dressings and unused utensils.  “I’ll talk to you when I get back.”
           “Awesome…”  Guy-Man responded placidly, watching as Thomas turned to leave, “Oh, uh, one more thing.”  Seeing his friend’s shoulders slump and feeling a cold pang in his chest, he almost considered saying nothing again.
         “What’s up?” Thomas questioned, tiredly turning to face him.
         “Don’t call me a fish.”
         “Um, okay?”
         “I know you don’t mean anything by it, but…” he forced a sigh out of himself, “I really would prefer to just be human.  Instead, I drew the short straw and am this--as you put it--monster.”
         Thomas felt as if Guy-Man had just plunged all ten of his claws directly into his heart.
         “It’s not something I can help…  And I had been feeling this change coming on for a few weeks before I moved in with you.  I only asked to move in because…”  Again Thomas saw him have to force his way through his words, “Because things are always less stressful with you around.  I also knew that if there was no way to stop this” he lifted a hand from the water and motioned to his S-cramped tail, “that you would be the person least-likely to care.”
         “I-I don’t care.” he lied.  Or more, it wasn’t so much a lie as just a stretch of the truth.  Guy-Man was Guy-Man no matter what, but with the addition of a few baser, carnivorous instincts made him fear for his appendages.  The way that Guy-Man wholeheartedly smiled at him made him feel like dirt.
         “This is going to sound weird, but, uh…  Can I have a hug?”
         Thomas’s first reaction was “absolutely not”, but he knew he couldn’t snub him, Guy-Man never asked for hugs, he always just gave them.  “One second.” he held up a finger as he went to go fetch a towel to sit between them, “I don’t want to have to change my clothes.” he chuckled, covering his front with the towel before kneeling down to Guy-Man’s level.
         The merman outstretched his arms and Thomas hesitantly at first pulled him closer, out of the water until his arms were up around his shoulders.  His own hands were resting carefully on the gill slits of his friend’s back, the tip of a finger running along one of the vents.
         “That doesn’t hurt, does it?” Thomas made sure to ask.
         “It tickles.”  Guy-Man giggled, tightening his grip around Thomas and burying his face in the space between his neck and shoulder.  “Imagine needing to sneeze…  But from your back.”
         “That’s a bit of a stretch for me.” the other man laughed.  “No offense.”
         “You weren’t really supposed to get that last part.” Guy-Man sniggered, pulling away from the hug ever so slightly to give Thomas’s cheek a patronizing tap with one of his hands.  Him kissing Thomas’s cheek as well might not have necessarily been anything new, but there was obviously still something different about the situation.  In this case it was that for the microsecond that Guy-Man’s lips were in contact with his cheek a million volts of fear coursed through Thomas’s veins.  It was all too easy for him to imagine Guy-Man opening his mouth and ripping open his cheek.  It was all too easy for him to imagine Guy-Man tearing his face apart in general…  Those claws didn’t appear to be for show.
          “Is something wrong?” Guy-Man tentatively enquired.
         “N-No, not at all.” Thomas responded with a sheepish smile.
         “Liar.”  The merman hissed, pushing away from him and back into the relative safety of the bathtub.
         “Guy, I promise tha--”
         “Get out!”  Guy-Man screamed in his industrial strength voice, his mouth open wide to bare all 1000 of his teeth.  As if having no choice in the matter, Thomas bolted from the room, slamming the door behind himself.  As he leaned his back on the door, his heart hammering in his chest, he wanted to go back in and apologize…
         “Guy…?”
         No response.
         “I’ll be back in a few hours!”  Thomas waited for him to say anything at all, even if it was just some kind of insult and was disappointed when that didn’t happen.  With a deep frown, he resolved to at least bring him something back as an apology.

Chapter Text

         “Drop one tablet in for every hundred gallons…” Thomas murmured to himself, not so keen on doing the mental math required. “260…”  Now was really a bad time to be wondering if he had enough for that.  Flicking his eyes to the package he sighed with relief to see that there were 300 in the one that he had bought.  At least counting the forty that would not be going into the pool was going to be easier than counting the 260 that were going to be dropped in.
         Once leaving all the tablets to dissolve in the water and circulate, Thomas went back into the house to fetch the sump-pump and set-up just where the giant hose was going to be emptying to.  Furrowing his brow, he figured it wasn’t going to be his yard and he also wished that he had tried to do something like this with his pool sooner.
         When in doubt, consult the internet.
         …
         …
         …
         Well, that was a lot of time wasted for not a lot of answers.  At least he got a good laugh out of knowing some people had tried to empty their pool water into their house septic with some disastrous results.  The Germans really had a good concept with this whole Schadenfreude thing.
         As if someone else wouldn’t be gaining any amount of entertainment from my misery if they only knew. Thomas commented in his own head as he ran the proper hose to the storm drain on his side of the street.  He just needed to wait for eight o’clock now and he also needed to give Guy-Man the thing he had picked up for him.  His biggest hope was that he was in a significantly better mood than earlier, but if he wasn’t, Thomas could understand.
         His stomach turned itself over as he made his way inside the house, collecting a plastic bag from the kitchen counter.  As he stood before the bathroom door, he raised his hand to knock.  Not getting an answer, however, he pushed the door open carefully to make sure everything was all right.  He laughed quietly to himself, seeing Guy-Man’s “human” half resting on the tub-side stool, his arms folded beneath his head.  A drop of saliva was trying to escape from his open mouth as he breathed in and out slowly against his arms.  At least his uncanny ability to remain photogenic while asleep hadn’t been affected by his change, he had even managed to keep his hair behaving.  Which, Thomas had never actually seen Guy-Man tie-up his hair in quite the way that he had.  It appeared that he had literally taken all of his suddenly-elongated hair and tied it into one loose knot at the base of his neck.
         “Guy?”  Thomas called over to him from the doorway.
         The man’s face scrunched up and he released a tired groan.
         “Guy-Manueeel?”  Thomas called over to him again, watching as his friend slowly lifted his head from his arms, rubbing his eyes.
         With a sigh, Guy-Man rested his face against his arms again, a few strands of hair escaping the knot and falling over it as he shifted to view Thomas “What’s up?” He groggily enquired, his lips squished into a pout by his position and his eyes only half-open against the light.  Thomas cursed him internally, he wished that he was able to look so attractive once just waking up; mostly all he personally could accomplish was looking like a fluffball that walked into walls.
         “I’m sorry about earlier…”  Thomas contritely offered, not having made any certain movements to enter the room.
         “I just didn’t get why you were freaking out.” Guy-Man explained, “I’ve done that before.” he blinked slowly as if he were about to fall back asleep, “Many times.”
         “It wasn’t the kiss.” Thomas assured.
         “Then, what was it?” Guy-Man questioned, reaching his thumb and forefinger up to very carefully rub his eyes.  Thomas would’ve asked if he had ever accidentally poked himself in the eye before with his claws, but seeing as Guy-Man still had two functioning eyes, this was not likely.
         “It was nothing; I told you…”
         “If you’re going to keep lying to me, leave.” Guy-Man stated, sliding off the stool to dip his face underwater and take a long breath.
         “I, well…  It’s your teeth.”
         “You actually think I’d bite you?”  the shark-man raised an eyebrow, resting his arms on the ledge of the bath and leaning his chin upon them.
         “N-No,” Thomas blushed, looking to the floor, “It’s just, I…”
         “You find out I’m not human, so suddenly you can’t trust me.” Guy-Man snorted, “Fuck the last two decades, then.  They don’t count for shit.”
         “Stop twisting the words I don’t even say!”  Thomas exclaimed, feeling his frustration skyrocket.  “You’ve been acting so hostile and--”
         “Oh, like asking for a hug is ‘hostile’, Bangalter!”
         “You’ve threatened to eat me!”  He shook his package-laden hands for emphasis.
         “As if I would ever be fucking serious about that shit!”
         “I don’t know anything about what the hell you are, Guy…  All I know is that you look like a shark, eat bloody meat and merpersons--or whatever--drown motherfuckers like me!”  Seeing that he finally rendered Guy-Man speechless, Thomas sighed, running his free hand through his hair.  “I know you’re half human, I know you were raised to be human,” he paused to let out a cynical chuckle, “you’re a better person than most people who are all human, actually…  But I’m…  I’m still scared, Guy, because I didn’t even know your species was real.  And the way you talk about them, their habits don’t seem to be the most friendly.  I don’t know what of those behaviors are ingrained in your genetics that I may be ignorant to or if you even have those.  Your tetchy attitude is really not inspiring much confidence.”
         Leaning more heavily on the side of the tub, the other man just seemed to deflate.  For a long time, the two were silent, Guy-Man’s eyes fixed on the wet, tile floor.
         As it became apparent to Thomas that Guy-Man wasn’t going to have anything to say…  He stepped further into the room and sat down on the stool next to the bathtub, “I brought you some food.  Since you, eh, can’t exactly walk downstairs to get it.”
         Guy-Man mumbled something Thomas didn’t quite catch.
         “Huh?”
         “I said, ‘I could always flop’.”
         “I don’t much like the idea of you beaching yourself…”
         “The part of that plan you didn’t hear was I leave all the sinks and tubs running and flood the hallways.”
         The idea was so utterly ridiculous that how could Thomas not laugh?  He followed up with, “Yeah, you can pay for all the water damage later.”  Reaching into the bag he had held at his knees, he pulled out a brown-wrapped package.  “Sorry, it’s just a fillet, but I’m not ready for whole fish yet, man.”
         Lifting his head to look at the package as Thomas unwrapped it, Guy-Man sniffed the air as if he would be able to divine what the exact breed of fish was.  As the vivid, red-orange flesh came into view, Thomas could swear he saw his pupils dilate.
         His tongue flicked out over his lips for a second and Guy-Man commented, “Sockeye, pretty ritzy, Bangalter.”
         “Can you actually tell by smelling it?”  Thomas questioned, Guy-Man slowly turning his head to look at him.  By the deadpan on his face, Thomas easily guessed he had asked a very stupid question.
         “I can tell by looking.”  Guy-Man gave him a condescending smile.  “My sense of smell is better in the water anyway.”
         As if that makes any sense…  Thomas internally mocked just before returning his attention to the way Guy-Man was staring at the food in his lap.  “Here, take it.” He held out the brown paper packaging, the slab of red in the center of it.
         “Thank you.” His partner plucked the flesh from its wrapping and Thomas promptly crumpled it up, dropping it back in the bag.  “You, uh…  Want to leave again…?”
         “Would you rather I leave?”
         Guy-Man growled in the back of his throat, producing a clicking noise unfamiliar to Thomas’s ears, “You’re the one that’s so upset about all this business.”  He paused, looking from the meat in his hands to the water and then back to Thomas, “But, uh, yeah, I’d prefer to eat alone.”
         Phew…  Thomas stood, “Okay, I’ve got some housework to do anyway.  Just uh… Hm…”  The tall man left the room to fetch the cordless phone from its spot on the nightstand.  “Call me on my mobile if you need anything.”
         Guy-Man’s eyes roved over the growing collection of items around the tub; from the television, to its remote, to the phone, to the jug of water whilst all the bath products still remained scattered about the floor.  “This place is a proper mess.  Sorry, man.”
         “Ah, don’t bother,” Thomas waved him off, “it’s not like any of this was on porpoise.” he lifted his hand to snigger into it.
         “I’m going to have to strangle you now.”  Guy-Man didn’t make a move to grab for him, however as he still had his food in hands, “Actually, you’re lucky I’m hungry.  Just get out.”
         “Call me!”  Thomas tossed casually over his shoulder as he left the room, leaving the door jarred.  He didn’t have too much longer before he could empty the pool.

***

         Once getting the sump-pump set-up in the pool and being sure that it didn’t run into any snags, Thomas had a very relaxing evening.  Sure, it would’ve been more relaxing with Guy-Man on the couch with him as he read, but he worked with what he was given.  He really hadn’t even had the time to properly assess just how well Guy-Man had worked himself into his daily life as of moving in.  Completely looking past all the queerness that the man’s new “idiosyncrasies” had brought into the house, it had actually been nice having him as a roommate.  At no point in their lives beforehand had they ever truly lived together; at a few, the words “I might as well live with you” had been tossed out as they spent nights with each other commonly.  Looking back, sharing common resources day after day, month after month consecutively hadn’t been a thing.
         Not having Guy-Man’s input on what music to play didn’t help his normally indecisive tendencies any.  He had found that Guy-Man was always the first to throw out a possible artist for the evening and if Thomas didn’t agree he’d throw out something he knew to be the exact opposite.  Idea bouncing without getting offended at one another’s choices was one of the reasons the phenomenon of the two working together was so spectacular.
         Closing his book and setting it aside, Thomas hummed into his hand, speaking of working together…  He shook his head and stood, wandering to his office and sifting through the paper pile of purgatory.  The PPP, which sat on Thomas’s bureau contained various things that he was unsure whether or not he wanted to throw out.  These scribbles contained everything from incomplete shopping lists and receipts to song ideas and almost lyrics.  He cursed to himself as he sifted and found the more mundane artifacts of his life; bills he needed to close out, receipts for plane tickets, phone numbers and addresses that were no longer relevant were the most common.  As he scratched through, however, he did find two small slips--it was amazing he had held onto them at all--his comically juvenile handwriting scribbled lazily over them.
         He smiled at one of them, it was wholly incomplete, but it would give him a fun evening.
         “Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, trash it, change it, mail--upgrade it…”


         As Thomas had spent a good deal of time that evening merely trying to find the right progression of words that all fit the same general idea, he ended the night feeling like it was missing something.  He had a great many verbs and “its” in there, but he felt there needed to be some break from the original line of thought…  It needed something that could sum-up all of these verbs simply, but he struggled to find something that you did all of these things either to or with.  Moreover, he had a general beat set up in his head, but he would need Guy-Man to be present long before he even considered putting much more than just words to it.
         Speaking of that man…  Thomas tapped his pen on the piece of paper he had before him--as he was so prone to doing when in thought--shortly before plopping it in it’s place in the cup to the right of his keyboard.  He stood, picking up the paper with him and left his office.  He peered out the window for a quick moment to check on the pool.  While finding the water was indeed being rapidly expelled in comparison to other methods of drainage, it still had a long way to go.  He was a little worried that he maybe wouldn’t have been able to expel all the water before the window of draining closed, but he figured maybe that was okay.  With a shrug, he supposed he could scrub the insides of the pool with the dechlorinated water and then just bucket-haul it out once the scrubbing had been done.  He also noted in his head that he had spent a significantly longer time in his office than he had originally intended because all light had faded from the sky.
         I hope he doesn’t think I’ve been ignoring him...
         Anyway, he chose to just leave the sump-pump running, returning upstairs to his room.  He set the alarm clock on his bedside to wake him up at some ungodly hour to make sure the pump hadn’t either burned-out or sucked-up a leaf in the night.  With great intent, Thomas approached the bathroom with his slip of paper, but found the room dark and silent.  It seemed that Guy-Man’s top priorities had been sleeping and eating that day considering how much conceivable time he had had to sleep.  Though it wasn’t like Thomas could blame him…
         With a quiet hum, he pocketed the paper to show his friend tomorrow and crept into the bathroom.  This was his home after all…  And Guy-Man was asleep under the water most likely so, he couldn’t possibly mind if he came in to take a piss.  As he stood at his toilet, he realized how badly he had been avoiding thinking of how Guy-Man was taking care of his own bodily functions…  Suddenly the constant draining and refilling of the bath water made perfect sense.  All the same, Thomas shivered and resolved to bleach the ever-living fuck out of that tub once moving Guy-Man to more hospitable locations.
         “Ggrg…”  Thomas heard.
         “Hm?”  He averted his gaze from the picture on the wall to the tub as he also heard an accompanying splash.  “Guy?”  He muttered into the darkness, “Are you awake?”
         The lack of a response told him his answer, so he shrugged and tucked himself back into his pants.  As he flushed the toilet and stepped past the center-piece bath to his sink, he heard another noise, “Brrrggh…”  His curiosity piqued, he stopped at the foot of the bath and scrutinized the contents therein.  He found it quite odd that Guy-Man had primarily drained most of the water, leaving only about a foot of it in the tub.  His face was only half in the water, but it was clear as day to Thomas that he was, yet again, sleeping with his mouth open, but this time, inhaling both water and air.  For a second, he was curious if Guy-Man primarily used his gills in his sleep to prevent accidental flooding of his lung or if his body had a natural way of sending the two matters through their correct organs.
         “Grrrgg… Krrrkkgrrr….”  The sleeping creature went, bubbling the water around his mouth and his tail lightly twitching behind him.  His teeth clicked together and he seemed to snort before settling back down.  His tail, however, continued to sway behind him, creating gentle waves in the bath that lapped up the walls.
         Along with his realization, a smile dawned on Thomas’s face as he figured out what it was he was bearing witness to.  Guy-Man was dreaming.  Granted, it didn’t seem to be much by way of a dream he would personally have, but it was a dream nonetheless.
         As he walked to the sink and began to wash his hands, Thomas heard his friend’s strange noises again.  Albeit, this time, they made more human sense.
         “Thommo…”  Thomas heard from behind him, catching his interest enough to return to the side of the tub.  “Mmmn…”  His friend bubbled into the water.  “Grrkkkg, mmn…  No…”  While the idea of Guy-Man enacting his dreams in his sleep was somewhat cute, he couldn’t help but be more than a little perplexed…  Or worried that Guy-Man was ostensibly dreaming of him whilst also dreaming of more sharky things.  Thomas swallowed and forced the nervousness down.  Dreams meant nothing.  “Thommaaa… I… Grrrr, Thom…  Hun… Gry…”
         That was particularly worrisome…  Though, Thomas told himself to chill-out, Guy-Man even on a bad day was moderately obsessed with food.  It was always possible he was dreaming of tearing into a--
         “Ssssand… Wich.”
         Yeah, one of those.  Raising his hand to his mouth, Thomas had to staunch his laughter.  This may or may not have had blackmail possibilities.
         “Gggrrrrr.  M-M…  Ine.”  As Thomas chose to finally vacate the room with a fond grin, just for the giggles listened one last time, “My…  Thommo… Ssssss.”
         “Since when am I yours?”  Thomas asked the air, realizing his mistake and covering his mouth before glancing over his shoulder.
         “You will be.” the sleeping man muttered into the water, the most comprehensible thing said.  Just to check, Thomas raced back over to the bath to stare down into the wet bowl.
         “What did you say?”  he whispered down to him.
         “Ssss… Kkkkgrhk, mmmrrrnm.” The sleeping creature responded, successfully convincing Thomas that he really was asleep…
         Shaking off the shiver in his bones, Thomas left the room, dreams meant nothing after all.

Chapter Text

         Being torn from his sleep by a noisy alarm, Thomas groaned and pulled his pillow over his head.  He reached out and pawed at the clock, his finger finding the off switch.  With a grunt, he rolled himself from bed, face-planting into his carpet.  At least the sudden discomfort to his nose was enough to rouse him into standing.
         “Damn.” he cursed to himself, rubbing his eyes and shuffling out of his room and down the hall.  If his little shit best friend wasn’t eternally grateful to him for everything he was doing, he was going to pluck every single one of his hairs out of his head when this was all over.  His eyes narrowed with sleep and hair fluffing out in every conceivable direction, he paused at the top of the stairs.  He let out a breath as he lifted his gaze to the room not far from where he stood that Guy-Man had been staying in.  It was with a frustrated breath, that instead of heading straight for his intended task, he headed into Guy-Man’s room.
         As he expected, the sheets of the bed were in anything but stellar condition, blood--a considerable amount--stained the white bedclothes.  The room, completely reeked of it, he was surprised he hadn’t been able to notice the first time.  By all the wrinkles in those sheets, Thomas was banking that Guy-Man had been thrashing around, sweating before his arrival and…  His eyes settled back on the blood stains, would he have been…  Screaming?  His skin had just completely decided to split to make way for things that Thomas was willing to bet that Guy-Man hadn’t wanted.  The blood could not have possibly have been spilt painlessly.
         Frowning, he stripped the covers from the bed.  They badly needed a wash, he told himself as he tried to rid himself of the disturbing thoughts of his friend’s anguish.  God knew he was stressed about this as it was and he didn’t need that mental baggage for the day.  Making a mental note to come back later to do more in-depth cleaning of the mattress, Thomas pulled the sheets and comforter from the bed, gagging at the horrendous stench that flowed with them.  He gritted his teeth as he wadded them all up into a ball and strolled from the room to bleach them clean.
         While Thomas’s original intention upon setting his alarm had been to go back to sleep once confirming the pool had been emptied and turning off the pump, he just simply couldn’t.  The smell of the putrid blood rolled his stomach beyond all recognition and forced him into total awakeness.  In lieu of this disappointment he instead stayed up and grabbed a large deck brush to scrub the insides of his pool.  With a bucket, he scooped the water out of the pool that the pump inevitably missed.  Since it had all been dechlorinated, he at least didn’t have to worry about any chemicals destroying his lawn.
         The sunrise was long past by the time Thomas climbed out of the ankle-deep water to his patio.  The beating sun had already made everything uncomfortably hot and being in a wet bowl hadn’t helped the humidity.  Even if he hadn’t already been wet from his earlier job, the way the sweat dripped down his brow told him that his shirt would likely still have been equally uncomfortable without it.  At least another easy part was upon him; taking the two hoses he had, he dropped the business ends of both of them into the nearly empty pool and let them drizzle…  He commented inside that that this was going to take an awfully long time, but at least he could stay inside for the hottest part of the day.
         Closing the door behind him, Thomas walked into his kitchen, peeling off his disgusting shirt immediately and depositing it in the sink.  He shivered at the lost heat and remembered that Guy-Man had insisted that the house be kept considerably chilly…  He wondered if that was still relevant, to be honest, because shit was so cold his nipples were hard…  Shrugging, he went to the refrigerator and pulled out the salmon chunk that Guy-Man had left and dropped it onto a plate to warm it up.  As he did so, however, he realized that upon visiting Guy-Man as he snoozed, there had been no sight at all of the sockeye skin anywhere in the tub or otherwise.
         Are you actually surprised that he ate it?  He asked himself and shivered, Probably had to spend some time picking scales out of his teeth.  Now that he could chuckle at.  As long as he could joke about his friend’s animalistic tendencies he was going to be marginally cool.
         As he had the day before, he poured coffee into a mug for his friend and grabbed another bottle of water from the refrigerator.  He really needed to go out and buy some more water as he could guess Guy-Man was going to refuse to drink salted tap water.  I should table salt some sink water and see what he says.  Thomas thought, wondering if it really would make a difference.  With a smirk, it was exactly his next choice of action, filling up a glass with tepid tap water and tipping his shaker of iodized salt into it.
         “Just in case….”  He muttered to himself, still opening the bottled water and grinding sea-salt into it after he fetched down the slab of dead fish from the microwave.  Considering his pants were quite spacious, he screwed the cap back onto the bottle and put it into his pants pocket before making his way for the stairs.
         As he came closer to his bedroom, he became aware of a melodious noise coloring the air.  When he said coloring, it wasn’t really an exaggeration; as his imagination filled the air with all kinds of swirling colors and his heartbeat slowed to calm, blissful pace, a stupid smile curved his lips.  It was like being in the saccharinely sweet embrace of a partner after congress, there were soft kisses and warmth and stroking hands.  He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt this way.  It didn’t matter when the last time was because all that mattered was he was experiencing it now.  He needed to find where this noise was coming from, this, this…  Wonderful song that made him feel warm inside and forget that he was stressed and tired and…
         Guy-Man, still a shark, stared up at him from the bathtub, a peculiar expression his face, “Are you okay?” he questioned.
         Blinking stupidly down at him, his mouth hanging open, it took Thomas a few moments for his brain to catch up.  That expression meant…  Ah, yes, that expression meant he was worried.  Thomas was…  Thomas was holding something?  His eyes slowly looking to the contents of his hands--a plate with… ah, fish and a glass of, well it was clear, so water--and back to Guy-Man, he pursed his lips in thought.  Without saying anything, he nodded and sat down on the chair by the tub and shook his head.
         “Sorry, I don’t know…  I don’t know what that was just now.”
         “Uh, me neither.”  The man in the bath gave him a tight-lipped smile.  “So… Uh, food?” he motioned awkwardly over to Thomas’s hands.
         Looking back to the contents of his person, Thomas nodded again and held the plate out to him, wondering why he even brought a plate to begin with as Guy-Man plucked the meat from its platter.  There was an awkward silence as Thomas was trying to remember when he exactly stepped into the bathroom from his room.  He actually didn’t even remember going to his room, just the hallway…
         “Are you gonna leave?”  Guy-Man posed.
         “No, I think I’ll be fine here.” Thomas sat the glass of water down on the edge of the tub, “Be right back, though.”  Popping into his room for a short second, he put the strangeness behind him as he just chalked it up to his lack of sleep.  Also it was hot outside and he had been sweating and he was probably dehydrated, yeah, that was probably it.  When he went back into the bathroom, the salmon was already crammed in its entirety into Guy-Man’s mouth and he laughed.
         “Mrrrm?!”  Guy-Man growled past his food, each mastication requiring wide, exaggerated movements of his jaw.
         “Don’t ‘what’ me!  You’re the one who looks like a hamster.” Thomas strolled back over to the stool to sit back down, a piece of paper between his fingers.
         “Grrrr.”
         “The growling I can do without.”
         “Mrk mrr.” Guy-Man chewed some more before forcing it all down in one gulp.
         “Yes, yes, fuck me.” Thomas waved him off, “I did some writing last night.” he introed with a great deal more enthusiasm.
         “Without me?” The shark-man grumped, rolling to float on his side in the tub.
         “It’s not like you have any interest in singing anyway.” Thomas chuckled.
         “It’s best for everyone that I don’t.” he shrugged.
         “Stop it.” Thomas reached out to shove his…  “Ew!” he immediately flinched his hand back as he realized all of Guy-Man’s hair was coated in what felt to be a sticky mucous.  Strings of the stuff built lazy, drooping bridges between the two men.  Or it did until Guy-Man plummeted his head into the water.
         Jumping up, Thomas raced for the sink, scrubbing off the clear fluid that reminded him of having corn syrup doused over his hands.  However as he easily cleared the stuff off with soap, he suddenly felt his chest sink.  Guy-Man had said something about needing to wash his hair frequently…  This was something normal for him and he had just been a huge ass about it.
         “Hey, uh… Guy?” Peering timidly over his shoulder, he noticed the other man was still submerged beneath the water.  By the noise emanating from the water, he was probably blowing a stream of bubbles from mouth too and Thomas sighed, wiping his hands off on a nearby towel.  In his haste to clean his hands, he realized he dropped the paper somewhere, but he couldn’t quite see where.  Or couldn’t until he actually looked down into the bath and saw it attached to Guy-Man’s hair that was splayed all over the surface of the water.  “Guy?” he spoke louder down at the water.
         Humming, he at least wanted to get the paper back…  Reaching down into the tub, he plucked the paper gingerly from the surface of the water, trying not to gag as several strands of hair remained attached to it.  With a deep frown, he tried to peel each individual piece off, but found them curiously getting stuck to his fingers.
         “Let me help.”  Guy-Man offered, raising himself from the water, “What you’re doing hurts anyway.”  He shooed Thomas’s unhelpful other hand away and carefully plucked the stuck lock off of his friend.  “The oil my skin makes keeps our hair from sticking to us.” he explained, also removing the lyriced paper Thomas had originally wanted to show him to read it.  As he tried to engross himself in the series of words Thomas had arranged for him to read, it was very hard for him to ignore how the same man was also vigorously wiping his hands on his pants.  It was funny--in a very depressing and not-funny at all way--to Guy-Man how even Thomas’s simple gestures of friendship were thwarted by his whole being a monster thing.  Yeah, that kinda sucked.
         “What’s up with these lyrics?”  Guy-Man asked instead of commenting on his friend’s disheartening behavior.
         Thomas shrugged, “I was just messing around with something.”
         “Again, without me?” the merman joked, trying to put on a smile.
         “There’s no real music to it yet.  I don’t even think I’m going to go anywhere past this, to be honest.”
         “So you’re just writing poetry now?” he smirked.
         “Poetry about computer stuff.”
         “You are a robot.” Guy-Man chuckled, “Why not write about the dirty thoughts Technology has?”
         “No, that was--”
         “‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’, I know.  I’m the one that had to put up with it.”
         Thomas rolled his eyes, “You didn’t even really sing, you just spoke into the vocoder and rolled your eyes.  A lot…”
         “For your protection.”
         “I’ve heard you sing.”
         “Not really.”
         “Because you never try.” Thomas huffed, watching as Guy-Man took all of his hair around his hand and twirled it into one, long, thick rope.
         “I’m not going over this again.”  Guy-Man growled, taking his hair and tying it into a knot at the base of his neck.  “Was there anything else you came up here to harp on me about?” he asked as he grasped the glass of proffered water.
         “I’d just like your ideas…”  Thomas honestly answered, watching the glass carefully with his eyes as Guy-Man raised it to his lips.
         “Well, I--pbbbbt!” Guy-Man spit out the horrible water all over his friend, “What the fuck did you do to this water?!”
         His face stoic, Thomas wiped all the saliva and saltwater off his face before clicking his tongue, “I guess that answers one question.”
         “Whatever, answer mine.”  With a disgusted face, Guy-Man set the glass aside.
         “It’s tapwater with table salt in it.”  Thomas admitted as he reached into his pocket and took out the second serving of water he had prepared for him.  “I wanted to know if it actually made a difference to you.”
          “You know, Thomas?”  Guy-Man began in a growl, “Shit like that is always better to ask me about first.”  Seeing Thomas only sigh and shrug “I was dumb” as a response, he slapped the water irritably with his tail, “I am not your fucking guinea pig or your fucking pet.”
         “Now you’re just being dramatic, it wasn’t that bad.” Thomas sighed, crossing his arms over his chest.  “You’re sitting the same kind of water that’s in that glass!”
         “Yes--and guess what--my skin is itchy, my gills are sore and my throat hurts.  There’s fluoride and all kinds of nasty crap in tap water.  I’m not picky just to be an asshole, it’s because I’m not meant to be in these kinds of conditions!”
         “What are you even so mad about!?  It’s a fucking glass of water!”
         “Because I’m stuck in a fucking asshole’s bathtub!  A fucking asshole who’s supposed to be my friend but is too grossed-out to even touch me!”
         Leaning his elbows forward onto his knees, Thomas took his face into his hands with a heavy sigh.  The bottle of proper water had long replaced the glass of water that sat on the tiled floor, but Guy-Man made no move to accept it.  He muttered something under his breath before finally asking, “Would it just make things better if I put you in the car and drove you to the beach or something?”  It would solve almost everything…  No needing to buy gross food to feed him, he could probably cancel the appointment with the pool guy and save himself some money and his friend would be free to roam around in a wide area.
         “No…”  Guy-Man timidly responded.
         “Well, why not?” Maybe he really was an asshole, because he had been hoping Guy-Man would say yes.
         “Because, uh…”  Guy-man fumbled for words at first, “What if I’m seen by someone?  Or I get caught, or-or--”
         “Just don’t be stupid and you’ll be fine.”
         “You just want the freak out of your hair…”
         Thomas clicked his tongue and sighed again, “You know it’s not like that.”
         “Isn’t it?” the shark sneered, showing off his teeth.  “That’s why you were gone this past week, right?”
         “W-What?”  Thomas felt his blood run cold, had he really been so transparent?  “No, of course not.  That’s stupid.”
         The other man huffed, “Right.”  Thomas could tell he didn’t believe him.  “That’s good, I guess, because I was afraid that after all these years I had finally found a way to make you hate me.”
         “You’re being stupid, stop.”  Thomas almost reached out to pat his shoulder, but thinking about the slimy hair that had been resting on it for awhile, he decided against it.
         “I thought I’d been so awful that you just wanted to get away from me.” his voice had dropped from its earlier volume to barely a whisper.  He wasn’t looking at Thomas, too embarrassed to do anything else other than stare down at the water.  Unfortunately, the water wasn’t helping much as he could see his own reflection in it and that was just awful.  “If…  If that was the reason I’d be okay with it.  I’d understand.”
         “It wasn’t so much you, I was…”  he needed to come up with some sort of lie that Guy-Man would believe.  However, they were best friends, there wasn’t really any lie the either of them could tell that the other wouldn’t call bullshit on.  “I was very stressed.” he said, definitely not a complete lie.  Guy-Man said nothing back and Thomas closed his eyes, sitting up straight again, “I just don’t see, right now, how keeping you at my house is helping you any.  You’re supposed to be in the ocean.  It’s already salted and everything.”  Thomas added with a very small chuckle.  “And you’d have plenty to eat!  Even a tourist or two if you’d like.” he laughed again, slightly louder, but he realized it might have been an unwelcome joke by the way his friend winced.  “And you won’t have to deal with this asshole for awhile.” he indicated himself with a guilty smile.
         “That’s the problem, though.” Guy-Man answered.  “I don’t want to be away from you.”
         “Oh, ah…”
         “Things are always less stressful when you’re around.” his voice was weak, doleful.
         “I know, you’ve said…” Clearing his throat, Thomas came back with, “But I’m really not helping things any the way that things are.  I’m just making you upset.”
         “Having you here doing that is better than you being gone.”  The younger man was speechless again, not knowing the proper words to express what he felt in those moments.  “I’ll try to be better…  Just don’t send me away.”
         And there was the sledgehammer to his chest.  Thomas felt himself crumple inside at the expression on Guy-Man’s face and the sorrowful tone of his voice.  He was stupid for ever thinking he wanted Guy-Man to be out of his sight as he was.  There were so many variables, the biggest one being this was a heavily populated area and people sucked.  On top of the fact that Guy-Man probably didn’t know much at all about survival without his mother around…  So many possible scenarios bounced their way around inside of his skull and none of them were particularly good.
         “I’ll think of something.” he croaked, “I’m sorry about the water.”
         “It’s okay.  Sorry I flew off the handle.”
         “Swam off.” Thomas smiled.
         “What?”
         “Are you half bird?” the younger man attempted to joke once more.  “I didn’t think so.”
         “Hah…”
         “Does it seem to you like we have these fights hourly?”
         “Yeah, maybe we’re just making up for lost time though.”  They both mustered light laughter, fights for them usually were very few and far between.  “Shit’s weird right now, anyway.”  There was a pause between them as Thomas nodded, “By the way…  Did you have a title for that song?”
         “No, why?”
         “I noticed the theme was everything you did with technology, so I wondered if that was what you were going for or if it just happened like that.”
         “I guess it was both intentional and it just happened like that.”  Thomas chuckled, he honestly hadn’t been thinking too hard about it.
         “You and your technologic bullshit.”  Guy-Man gave a light-hearted snort.
         “Technologic bullshit…”  Thomas muttered, stroking at his face that badly needed a shave.  “Tech-no-log-ic…”
         “Did I break you?” The shark sniggered.
         “Guy-Man, I love you.” he suddenly gushed with a fond chortle.
         “Uhm-uh, yeah, I, uh…” curiously, he tipped his head to the side, “I love you too.  Did you just get a light-bulb moment?”
         “I felt the lyrics were lacking something.”
         “Ah, another of those cases.  At least I’m good for something.”
         “Don’t sell yourself short.  Stop that.”  Thomas leaned down into the tub and gave him a shove, surprised how very little disgust he felt touching his oily skin.  In fact, there was hardly any disgust at all.  It was just fine, really. “You’re always doing that.”
         “You’re the one with all the--”
         “Don’t make me hit you.”
         “I would love to see you get your hand stuck in my hair.”  Guy-Man grinned at him, not sure if he should laugh at the expression on Thomas’s face or feel bad…  As laughter was the more appropriate response in this case, that was the one he went with.  For the rest of that afternoon spent with Thomas in the bathroom, he had to remind himself just to laugh at things, one emotional outburst like earlier was enough for one day…  He could always wait until Thomas left.

 

Chapter Text

         A pleasant breeze wafted over Thomas, the sound of the ocean crashing a mere ten feet in front of him.  He felt the warm comfort of the sun on his face and the grainy sand clinging to his back.  There was no sound of other people or the city nearby, it was the most peaceful visit to the beach he had ever had, to be honest.
         He sighed contentedly to himself, his eyes sliding open to view what was clasped in his hand.  Ah, a novel, yes, he was at the beach reading.  As it was a dream and such things never bother the dreamer, Thomas thought nothing of the blank, white cover as he peeled the mass of paper open.  Licking his lips, Thomas read the pages, each seemed hand-written in familiar, elegant font.  However, as he flipped through the pages, he found that each page was identical to the last.
         “You will be.” Stared back at him from every page and he eventually gave up, closing and sitting the book aside.  He found no relevance in the quote he could not recall in his sleep.  Thomas was at the beach, after all--why wasn’t he swimming?  Standing up from his comfortably reclining position, he strolled over to the water’s edge, smiling as he felt the dissipating waves lap against his legs.  As he let out another peaceful sigh, he felt something shift.  He wasn’t sure what that something was as he was asleep, but there was definitely something different…
        Why do I hear singing? he thought past his dream, not much liking the fact that he had realized he was dreaming and was now questioning strange aspects.  He heard the sweet, lilting melody flow against him as the water did.  It was soothing and enticing.  It was too bad, he figured, that since he had just understood that he was asleep and that something was off about his dream that he was going to wake up soon.
         As the song carried on, picking up volume slowly, Thomas felt his body shiver.
         Maybe I’m cold?  he asked himself, trying to wake up to fix himself in bed.  Needless to say, this was a futile attempt and he gave up quickly, Strange dream though.  Or maybe I’m actually not dreaming? dawned on him as he realized that if he really was conscious in his dream, he could control the contents.  As no woman appeared to spend this lovely beach time with him with a pair of ice cream cones, he could surmise that he couldn’t warp reality just by thinking.  Guess, I’m not… he therefore concluded.
         With relaxed body and mind, Thomas waded out into the drink, ducking his head under once the water raised up to his chest.  Sound of the music pulsed with the ocean as he closed his eyes.  He took a deep breath and balked as no sensation of drowning overtook him, he opened his eyes with this surprise and caught movement from the corner of his eyes.  Spinning around in the vast emptiness of the water, he frantically searched for the movement, sure that it must’ve been a predator as a cold knot formed itself in his chest.  For a second, he thought heading for the surface might help as he turned his gaze upwards; he had sunk considerably down with his lack of real movement, it would’ve been impossible for him to reach the surface before whatever it was was upon him.  In spite of being beneath the water’s surface, he felt himself begin to sweat as he made a frantic swim upwards.
         The water around him pulsed with movement and the singing drew nearer, looking over his shoulder, he gasped out a bubble of air as the face that swam next to him.  Terror overtook him as Guy-Man’s sharky smile beamed back at him and he tried to swim away.  The music--the singing--reminded him to calm down as he panicked, his flight slowing until the predator was upon him.
         This isn’t so bad…  He thought to himself as the merman did little more other than clutch onto him.  Through his gradually lessening fear, he smiled and looked over his shoulder.  The merman’s hair had spread out in the open water, creating the illusion of a forest of fine seagrass.  The shark’s black eyes flitted up to his face and he found it remarkably easy not to be uncomfortable, that voice he was hearing was just so soothing…
         Guy-Man leaned up in the water, his denticled arms grating against Thomas’s skin, as his hands felt up his form.  They rested on Thomas’s shoulders as he repositioned himself to sit at Thomas’s chest, his tail curling around the other man’s lanky frame.  His dark, intelligent eyes scanned his friend’s face for reasons said man could not fully comprehend.
         So he chuckled nervously, bubbles absurdly marking each puff of merriment.  The laughter stopped, however, when Guy-Man leaned up and pressed their lips together.  Their mouths molded to each other in spite of the fishman’s roughly-textured skin.

         Another of these dreams.  Thomas realized, pressing their kiss deeper and Guy-Man’s tongue lapping along his curiously.  As they kissed and clutched harder to each other, a slicing pain interrupted the intimate moment.  He screamed, voiceless in the water, bubbles no-longer punctuating each outward thrust of air.  Shoving himself away from the shark man, he thought that he had perhaps scratched him.  This seemed even more likely when Guy-Man smirked at him and quickly propelled himself away.
         Before he could realize that all the water he inhaled seemed to be causing an irritating sting on his back, his skin viciously itched.  He gritted his teeth as he raked his fingernails over the flesh of his arms, rivulets of blood curling in the seawater like smoke in stagnant night air.  With more noises trying to tear themselves from his throat, his bones shifted and reset themselves with sickening pops and crunches--the only sounds he could make out past the singing that blared in his ears.  Looking down at his body as his pelvis folded in on itself to form his legs into a tail, he knew he was crying, there was no way he couldn’t have been.  The pain felt so real and he was given no catharsis with screaming or crying as the saltwater he was immersed in hid his tears.
         Everything just became pain, the tiny differences in his anatomy that they caused being lost to him for that time.  His teeth morphed into serrated blades in his bleeding gums and fins sprouted from his arms and back; his head felt like it was going to burst as the orbits of his skull widened to make way for larger eyes as he silently sobbed.  Bringing his hands to his face, his fingers elongated and grew the fine claws he had seen on Guy-Man’s before thin webbing connected his knuckles.  At least the itch of his skin left him as his denticles finished growing in, turning the skin of his back and tail a dark blue, fading to white at his extremities.
         He let out a breath of water as all the pain faded to a dull ache in his groin, or what would’ve been his groin, anyway.  Soundlessly groaning, he looked back at his long, powerful tail and his crescent-shaped caudal fin with a small, black triangle poking off of it from near the exterior-most tip.  His body shivered as the ache in his groin grew and he caught sight of Guy-Man silently and smoothly gliding through the water.
         With large, black, suspicious eyes, Thomas watched him slowly draw nearer, his tail fluttering like a ribbon behind him.  He was wary of that tail, it was for stunning prey after all, right?  Raising his hands up to his ears, he squeezed his eyes shut, the singing still distracting him and driving him mad.  It was just the opening the other shark needed, Thomas realized because when he opened his eyes again, he was floating in front of him.
         Tired and awkward with a new body and pain, Thomas was hopeless at trying to swim away, easily dissuaded by Guy-Man’s hands on his arms.  He pursed his lips as the merman drew closer to him as he had earlier, two somethings bumping against his…  Against his two somethings?!  Panicking, he tried to look down between them, the ache in his crotch suddenly making more sense than he had wanted it to; before he had the chance to properly assess what was going on, he felt something rub, he gasped and then saw Guy-Man’s wide, dangerous mouth.  He thrashed, trying to escape, but it was no use as the teeth came down on his shoulder.

         “Aaah!”  Thomas moaned loudly into wakefulness.  Sweating and panting, he sat up quickly, throwing the sheets off his body to find himself no less hairless and no less devoid of legs than any other day.  Oh, and this was embarrassing--as he plopped himself back down to his bed with relief, he covered his face with one hand as the other fished beneath the waistband of his boxers--his fingers found the tell-tale sticky wetness of come plastered on the fabric of his undergarment.  He shivered with disgust, he hadn’t had a wet dream since he was twelve, moreover, what the hell was that twisted, reverse version of The Little Mermaid he had just dreamed?!  I’m pretty sure kisses are supposed to turn people human, not the other way around.
           A wave of deep depression befell him and he felt sick.  While he understood the sick feeling, the depressiveness was a mystery to him.  Maybe because he felt fucked-up over coming to a dream of turning into a fish…  Or maybe it was because that singing he had heard in his dream had been so euphoric and was definitely absent in wakefulness?  As he decided to follow this train of thought for proper examination, he heard a timid voice from the next room, “Thomas?  Are you all right?”  While Thomas never informed Guy-Man of the dreams he had about him, this dream had a lot more interesting points in it to discuss…  There was no way he was keeping this to himself to torture him.
         “Yeah,” he grunted, looking to the stain on his boxers again, “I think I’m fine.”
         “C’mere…”
         Groaning, Thomas swung his legs out of bed and plodded into the bathroom, rubbing his eyes.  He heard Guy-Man’s giggle at his hair and he couldn’t resist a smile before he finally opened his eyes to look at his friend, “I just had a very freaky dream.” his morning voice ground out.
         “Oh?” Guy-Man resituated himself in the fresh water of the tub, “Do tell.” he requested, his eyes falling on the dark spot on Thomas’s clothes, “Is that…?”
         “Uh… Yes.”
         "Sorry..."
          Thomas shrugged,  "Not your fault." Though, Thomas supposed internally, perhaps, in a manner of speaking, it was.  "Guess I need to get laid." He laughed.
         "Or whack off more." Guy-Man suggested with a smirk.
         "Wanna help?" Thomas asked through a chuckle.
          "Oh, you know it." Guy-Man responded with a conspiratorial smirk and wagging eyebrows.  "Because you know you want these pearly-whites on that." He continued to tease, pointing to his bared teeth.
         "Hey, I just want a handjob." Thomas was actually a lot less comfortable with their conversation than he was letting on.  It was fun to joke about this stuff, but after his somewhat disturbing nightmare that ended with him getting chomped, it made his junk cringe. "I never said anything about a blowjob."
         "Pfft, you'd spend your last five dollars on a handjob and not a blowjob, of course."
         Thomas laughed, "Do I look German to you?"
         "Tall enough to be."
         “Heh, sure, yeah.” Thomas inhaled and rubbed his face once more.  “It was so freaky.”
         “What happened?” The fish-man enquired, shifting to make himself more comfortable to speak with Thomas.
         “I uh…” Thomas had to laugh just to even get this out, “I turned into a merperson?” he shivered a little, “And it really hurt.”
         Guy sniggered, “Just can’t stop thinking of me, can you?”
         “Well, this is a new experience for me.  I guess not, no.”  Remaining on the stool, Thomas sat minutely to one side as if to hide the dark stain on his boxers.  “I just can’t believe I…  Just, no.” he forced himself to chuckle.
         “Was I there?” Guy then asked, a smug expression.
         “You wish.” his best friend replied, equally smug.  “You know you’d want a piece of my mertail.”  And, thankfully, they both laughed at the idea.
         “Better you than one of those snappy girls!” Guy-Man carried the joke onwards towards new and more uncomfortable territory.  “You’d be all mon cher and shit.”
         Thomas playfully scoffed in return, “As if you’re not like that?” he raised an eyebrow at him,  “Or would it just all be screaming?”
         “Do you ever wonder how other friendships function?” Guy asked, “I don’t personally, but,” he let himself trail off with a light chuckle.
         “I just think about how strange they must all be…  Then realize th-that we’re the strange ones.” Thomas’s lips spread in his wide, angelic smile.  It didn’t seem like there was ever enough space on his face for such a gorgeous thing.
         “So, you wanna be a merperson, huh?” Guy steered things back to funnier territory.
         Though, Thomas really felt like that was such a loaded question.  What was the correct way to answer that?  Figuring that he was generally regarded as the more tactful of the two, Thomas just decided to tread  carefully, “If it hurts that bad…”  Thomas shrugged, “I don’t know.”
         Guy wrinkled his nose and his brow, “What did it feel like to you?”
         “Like…  My bones were melting…  And my skin was splitting and…”  Thomas shrugged, “It was just a dream, I don’t remember some of it that well.”
         Guy nodded, Thomas catching an incredibly guilty expression flit over his face.
         “Are you okay?”
         “Yeah…  I just…  Would never want to wish such suffering upon you that is the transformation.” His voice was low, borderline depressive.
         “Well, it’s not like,” Thomas nervously chuckled, “n-not like you actually can or anything…”
         “No, of course not.” Guy assured, shaking his head.
         “Not that I think you would, even if you could…”
         “I would never want to hurt you…” he muttered under his breath.
         Thomas took a deep breath, hazarding a touch outward, his hand resting on Guy’s slick shoulder.  For the moment, it didn’t even bother him that the uncontrollable locks of hair seemed to just gravitate towards his hand and latch on, “I know you wouldn’t.” he responded quietly.
         “I’m sorry…”
         “For what?  That’s the second time you’ve apologized.”
         Guy shook his head, “Nothing.”
         “If it’s nothing, don’t apologize for it.” Thomas lightly reasoned, moving to take his hand away and thoroughly disgusted again to see all of the slimy hair strands were still stuck to his palm.  Some had even wrapped around his fingers in a way.
         Helpfully, Guy reached out of the water and disentangled the hair from his hand, again exhibiting the wonders of his skin oils.  Also exhibiting how remarkably finite and soft he could be with his hands, in spite of how dangerous his claws appeared.  Guy let the locks of hair drop to the water to fan out over the surface tension of the bath.
         “I do have a question, why is your hair like that?” Thomas motioned to the water, the black and green-dappled, brown hair covering it.
         “Mom has always said it has a few uses.  Fish get stuck in it, algae gets stuck in it…  Which I know sounds gross, we can pick the fish out when we need it and...  Algae is good for us and we can just…  Lick it off…”  Guy was somewhat hesitant to add that last part and as Thomas’s stomach turned over, he understood why.  “But, um…  She says it’s also for a power or mating display?”
         “What?” Thomas raised an eyebrow, now this was probably going to be interesting.
         “Males rule over territories and, obviously, when mating, it’s important for a male to be ruling over a fertile territory, not difficult to find food, etcetera.  So…  Females do this as well, so you will often find that those of them that have really plentiful territories have… Things… In their hair.”
         Trying to hide is relative disgust, Thomas pressed onward, “Like?”
         “If one of them lives in a coral reef, for example, they could put living anemones or hydra in their hair--clownfish still living in the anemones--or sea sponges…  Mother told me a story of one of her past mates grew a coral crown in his hair; another that lived in a kelp forest, had living kelp, making his hair longer and the kelp there provided safe living space for seahorses--as long as they didn’t touch his hair and in that case he released them, if I heard correctly.  Open water members of the species…  I think Mom said they put fish skeletons or shark teeth or whale blubber in their hair.”
         “That’s….  Gross in some cases, but, just…  W-Wow.  I’ll bet the coral reef merpeople look gorgeous!”
         With a curious expression, Guy ventured, “Really?”
         “Well, yeah…  You guys--”
         “I’m human, Thomas.”
         “O-Okay, they have self-contained ecosystems in their hair!”
         “Yeah…  They’re a real sight to see until they devour you.”  Guy-Man grumped.
         “But I’m never going to be meeting any of those.” Thomas shrugged.
         “Do you want to?”
         “No…  It’s like asking if I want to go swimming with a shark that knows how to work a metal cage latch.” he chuckled, trying to get Guy to lighten up in this conversation.
         “Would you want to go swimming with me?”  Guy-Man posed.
         Thomas paused at the question.  Obviously, he couldn’t tell him that it depended upon how hungry he was…  “Y-Yeah…  I’ve been swimming with you before.”
         Guy-Man sensed the mild lie in Thomas’s voice, but he also sensed an attempt to lay aside his worries and Guy was at least willing to grant him that.  Nodding, Guy rested down into the water to take a breath of the liquid, coming back up a moment later, “I’d like that very much.”
         You might get your wish sooner than you think…  Thomas thought, working his hardest to suppress a smile.  Speaking of the pool though… He really needed to check the water level.  The pool maintenance guy was supposed to be visiting at around three.  “Are you hungry?”
         “Yes, what’s left in the refrigerator?” Guy went with the change of topic easily.
         “Ah…”  Thomas paused to think, “Oh, just the cod.”
         “Bleh…” The merman complained, “But if that’s what we have.” he shrugged.
         “Yeah, I need to go grocery shopping soon.”  Now that he thought about it…  “Did you go at all while I was gone?”
         Guy-Man shook his head, “It wouldn’t have been safe for me to.   Couldn’t go full…  This in public.”  Shrugging once more to indicate he didn’t find it all that big a deal, he added, “My wallet is in my bedside drawer.  You can use my card when you go.”
         “Y-You don’t have to--”
         “Yes, I do.  You’re taking care of me right now, it’s the least I can offer.”
         Thomas smiled a little, “You really don’t have to, but okay.  Thank you.  Bedside table?”
         Guy confirmed the location once more before Thomas went on his way from the room.  He needed to dress and…  Badly needed to shower.  First things first though, he went down the stairs and out to the pool to find it more or less filled; it was still about a foot short of the fill-line, but it was going to be good enough for the technician to come and install the salinating system.
         The usual coffee, bottle of salted spring water, plus the fillet of cod--mildly warmed-up--was next delivered to Guy as he watched the news.  He didn’t appear to be too talkative this time, so Thomas was able to go in and out quickly and leave Guy to his shark-like devices.

         What Thomas hadn’t anticipated, and Guy-Man had neglected to tell him was the state that Guy had left his bathroom in!  Stepping into the bathroom, Thomas found something he hadn’t ever thought to be something he would need to think about not wanting to see.  Hairballs, comprised of hair much shorter than what was now on Guy’s head, clung to the walls of the tile shower.  Worse yet, it appeared that Guy had been shearing his own hair off using kitchen scissors!  The garbage can and sink were both littered with either clumps or stray strands Thomas didn’t dare touch.  Not out of general disgust--because, hey, shit happened all the time with people’s hair, it was just the way it was and he had had girlfriends before anyway that did similar things--but knowing he would be unable to remove it from his fingers without Guy’s aid.  Unless Guy had been thoughtful and only left these hairs lay about after washing the mucous from them…  By the way an array of hairs jutted straight out from the drywall like intestinal cillia, he strongly doubted that.
         Upon picking up the kitchen shears, Thomas dropped them almost immediately back into the sink.  A thin film of slick oil--or mucous, he was never really sure with fish what it counted as--had formed on the handles.  He shivered, thoroughly grossed-out yet again by his friend’s immutable biology.  The bastard could’ve at least cleaned up after himself!
         Stepping over one disaster after another, Thomas made his way to the shower and turned the faucet on, happy to see that it at least worked.  Dismay swiftly came over him though as he saw rivulets of rejuvenated blood flow towards the drain as the shower washed away days-previous grime.
         Had Guy been showering when his change first came on?  Or was it more of a general, constant bleeding?  Further surface inspection of the garbage can yielded Thomas’s answer.  Rolls of discarded, bloody gauze told him his friend’s story quite clearly.  He must’ve been bleeding for days and had merely not said anything to him…  How was he still alive after so much shed?
         Shaking his head, Thomas resolved to not think further on it, stepping into the spray of water.  He curiously eyed Guy’s preferred bath products next; while there were bottles Thomas was more familiar with sitting pushed to a corner, the ones that seemed to have the most use were…  He picked up an all-in-one use soap.  It had a watery texture with an almost ominous, yellow color.  Upon flipping the cap open his nose was met with the strong scent of peppermint disguising the harsher scent of the soap.  He poured some into his hand and began washing with it; once the shower was over, however, he found his skin protesting to the chemicals, feeling dry and tight…  The soap had to be strong, he supposed, in order to remove all of Guy’s new oils and mucouses.  The cluttered line of moisturizing products that crowded the rim of the sink made even more sense after knowing this.
         His nose dragged through endless scents of lotions, moisturizers, exfoliators before he finally settled upon one.  There wasn’t even the slightest bit of shame in him as he realized it was the one that smelled the most like Guy.  He didn’t want to think about it, but there was something comforting in the smell.  He applied the product to his face and over his arms and anywhere else that the soap had dried out.  In a weird way, it felt like being hugged by his friend.  By the dry, two-legged, often silent and playfully gruff version of his friend…  Thomas couldn’t help a smile curving his lips as he closed his eyes.

         Three came and went and with its passage came the pool technician.  As Thomas had hoped, the pool was up to level by his arrival and he was just going to let him do his work.  In the meantime, Thomas retreated upstairs with Guy, under one arm carrying a mini-Moog and a small synth under the other.  He had such an urge to do musical work all the sudden and he wanted Guy to be a part of it.  Though he knew all he had to say to Guy was he had been working on solo pieces and the man wouldn’t have been offended, it seemed like a nice dose of normalcy working on tracks with his friend.
         “Oh, that’s just a great idea, Thomas.”  Guy greeted him upon seeing the two moderately expensive, electrical devices entering the room.
         “I’ll just keep them off the floor!” the younger man reasoned just as his feet slipped in a puddle of wet.
         An eyebrow of Guy’s climbed up his forehead, “Will you, now?”
         “Yes!  It’s going to be just fine.” Thomas declared, setting down the two smaller instruments on the unoccupied part of the sink’s counter.  “I just need to get a few tables and I’ll be right back!”
         Guy sighed, resting back down in the water, “I’d help you, but… You know.  Just, whatever you do, don’t bring your desktop up here.”
         “I got floppy discs and CDs to save things on, will be fine!” and Thomas blundered from the room to collect the rest of their effects.  Meanwhile, Guy lowered himself beneath the surface of his bucket-like prison, breathing the water into his mouth and out the gills on his back.  Truthfully, he was excited this was happening.  Honestly…  There was still the lingering pit in his stomach though that this was all just a distraction and things were permanently damaged between him and his best friend.
         Sometimes, the best part about being an underwater creature was, it was very hard for anyone to tell when you’ve been crying.

 

 

Chapter Text

             “Mn, non.” Guy muttered, holding his fingers up over his lips.  He really craved a cigarette, but he had never attempted smoking in this form.  It was, needless to say, an odd feeling to not have a cigarette between his fingers as he did this.
             “Well…”  Thomas hummed under his breath, “What if I do this instead?”  Feeding the fresh recordings back through his mini-Moog, he replayed the new configuration with a hopeful smile on his face.
             “Hm…” Guy-Man creased his eyebrows and chewed at one of his claws, a disconcerting gnashing noise meeting Thomas’s ears as he ground his rows of shark teeth into the keratin.  “Hmmmmmmmm…”  He continued, Thomas swallowing, sweat pricking his brow as Guy-Man listened to the composition.  “Hm…”  Damn it this pressure was becoming too much!  “Non.”
             “Guy!”  Thomas complained, sighing, “What part?”
             “Second fifteen.  Try a sample change, it doesn’t work with the beat.” the fish-man explained, “Here,” he reached a hand out, groping for some form of control over the music.  “Play it back.”
            Restarting the track and putting it through in much the same configuration as before, Thomas scooted the tiny erected table towards Guy.  The merman reached out of the tub, wiping off his hands first and fiddled with a few sliders and dials.  As the track played onward, Thomas’s face slowly bloomed with inspiration at the adjustments his friend made.
             “Yes!  Y-Yes!  That’s-that’s-that’s….  Perfect!” Thomas enthusiastically crowed, batting his friend’s hands away from the console.  “This?  Th-This good?”
              Smiling, Guy nodded, “It’s pretty good.” he chuckled.  For that one short moment, as Thomas gave a relieved sigh at last, a look of personal accomplishment on his face, Guy felt normal again.  Nothing was different, he was just making music with his best friend while sitting in a bathtub.  Granted, that wasn’t so much normal, he didn’t often invite Thomas to watch him bathe or otherwise, but at least he didn’t feel like he had a tail.  Though, that pleasant, normal feeling quickly left him as his stomach angrily growled.
                “Can you eat anything else other than fish?” In his haste to care for the pool, Thomas had neglected to buy a large portion of fish to feed him.
                “Anything that’s meat…”  Guy carefully responded, “And I know seaweed doesn’t upset my stomach.”
                “Hm,” Thomas thought for a few seconds and remembered he had some frozen ground beef in the back of the freezer, but before he could make this offering, a voice called to him.
                “Hello?”  The pool technician’s voice carried from the main hallway.
                Suddenly, Thomas got to witness Guy-Man going stark stiff in the bathtub, “Thomas, who’s that?” he asked with a great deal of anxiety, shrinking back into the water, eyes wide.
                Thomas had to come up with a lie and quick.  He didn’t want to spoil the surprise for his best friend, but he also didn’t want him completely terrified that he was about to be found out.
               “Mr. Bangalter?”  The technician’s voice came again, slightly closer this time and Guy-Man curled up beneath the surface of the water.  A stream of bubbles marked his anxiety and Thomas tapped on the side of the tub to gather his attention.
               “I-It’s a maintenance guy, Guy.  Everything’s okay.”  He watched his friend poke his completely black eyes from the water, never looking more timid and scared, “I just…  Just needed someone to fix up the b-back yard is all.”  Smiling sheepishly, he stood up from his spot by the tub, “I’ll go talk to him, he’s probably d-done.”
               Guy nodded, still mostly submerged before becoming all the way submerged and settling at the bottom of the tub.  Thomas realized that he should have said something about them having guests in the house, no matter how short a time it was.  Neither of them could afford someone seeing him, no matter how slim the chance may be.
               “I-I’ll be right back.”  Thomas left the bathroom to dispatch the technician.  In around three hours, the whole pool should have been salinated and ready for use.  With a grin and a bit of stuttering, Thomas bid the helpful worker goodbye and excitedly looked out to the pool through the kitchen window.  He hadn’t yet realized just how excited he was to get Guy out of his bathtub and into a larger space.  What did Guy look like when he swam?  Was his streamlined body graceful in the water?  Not that Guy wasn’t graceful when he walked…  Before he lingered too long on the lines and motions of Guy’s body, he shoved the thoughts aside.  Those were for a later time.
               Scratching the underside of his unshaven chin, Thomas chose to just thaw out the ground beef rather than ask Guy about it.  Though, the last time he did something like this caused a blowup, he figured this was harmless.  He had said that anything that was meat was fine and beef counted as meat…  Even if it was mashed up.
               Agh, he just needed to distract himself from dragging Guy to the pool immediately.  His body was jittery with excitement and Guy could always tell when he was excited about something.  Ever since they were children.  It was best that he said as little as possible…  Guy would notice that…  Say as much about anything else as possible?  No, that was his classic tell, along with his stutter.  There was just no way for him to win!
               He thawed the beef as quickly as he could, all the while contemplating and rehearsing what he wanted to talk to Guy about as he waited for the three hours to be up.  It wasn’t quite going well, to be honest.

              “Luuuunch tiiiiime!”  Thomas merrily declared, walking into the bathroom with the tray of mostly raw meat and a cup of coffee.  Saltwater was also on the menu and Guy gave him a queer look from the tub.  “W-What?”
              “You’re sure in a peppy mood all the sudden…”  Guy pointed out, dragging his claws through his hair before tying it back up at the base of his neck into that intricate, stylish knot.  Tapping his lower lip, he leaned out of the bathtub as Thomas grew closer, “You’re…  Hiding something, aren’t you?”  He speculated, Thomas freezing in his tracks and beginning to sweat.
              “W-Wh-Why, what-whatever do you mean?!” Thomas tripped over his words, “I’m just happy t-to be here with you!  W-Working on new material!”
              “Oh, come, you couldn’t be more obvious, Thomas.”  Guy rolled his eyes, “What did you do?”  The merman narrowed his eyes at the selection on the tray, “Did you fuck with my food again?”
             “N-No.  Not again, not after…  I don’t want you to bite my head off again.”  Thomas joked, seeing the downtrodden effect it had on his best friend’s face, “Figuratively sp-speaking, I mean.”
             “Hm,” Guy began again, tapping his lip once more with resumed examination, “I’ll figure you out yet, Bangalter.”
             “Are we in primary school again?” Thomas sat down next to the tub, offering the tray, not flinching in the slightest as Guy dug his claws into the warm, mostly pink mound of beef.
             “You’re an obvious enigma.” Guy proclaimed the oxymoron between bites.  Swishing his hand beneath the surface of the water, he reached back up to sip at the coffee Thomas had graciously provided. “People know when you have something you’re bursting to say and you just won’t.”
             “And does that make you just an enigma?” Thomas steepled his fingers, leaning in his elbows onto his knees.  He was proud so far of his not blowing the secret, but this couldn’t last forever.  Not when he knew how excited Guy would be about having more space to move about.  Or space to move about period as a bathtub didn’t count.  “Why aren’t you obvious when you don’t ever speak?”
             “I’m the tall, dark and mysterious type.” Guy smirked, running a finger under his chin.
             “Emphasis on the tall part?” Thomas asked in deadpan.
             “You know it.”
             “But you’re already bigger than me!” Thomas complained, “Leave me with something!” he followed up with a giggle.
             “Fine,” Guy waved him off, taking another bite of meat, “I can throw you through a wall any day.”
             “Hmmm, out a window seems safer.”
             “Nah, I like the wall better.”
             Thomas settled in further, looking over at the collection of equipment he left.  Seeing specks of water on it, he raised his eyebrow and pressed “play” on a selected track.  Immediately, a word in Guy’s voice was pulled from the speaker.
             “Emotion” was an odd word, Thomas supposed.  Only odd because it was a single word.  It wasn’t paired with anything and there was nothing particularly special about it apart from a slightly stressed O in the the word.
             “Had an idea while I was gone?” He asked, replaying the word, but slowing down the rate slightly.  He tweaked the pitch, giving the voice their more traditional “robotic” sound and looked to Guy for some sign of approval.
             “Perhaps,” Guy nodded to Thomas’s edits, relaxing back onto his stomach in the shallow bath as the curved posture was beginning to aggravate him as he ate more of the ground beef.  “Emotion has always been important…  You built a song around something you would say matters most to you, right?  Technology?  I’ve seen how many times you’ve read the user’s manual to most of our instruments.”
             Thomas hummed, “This cannot just be a song on it’s own.” Thomas pointed out, realizing it was a somewhat stupid thing to mention.  “Did you have ideas for a beat?”
             “I’m getting there.” Guy finished off the beef, licking his fingers clean, “I’m just so limited.” he sighed, dropping his face into the water to take a few breaths, blowing the water out of his gills along his back.
             “This isn’t forever.” Thomas reminded him, reaching down to very carefully run his hand over Guy’s back.  His fingers brushed the slits of his gills and Guy giggled beneath the water.
             “That tickles.”
             Thomas’s hand continued further, bumping into his dorsal fin and petting up the rough skin.
             “Sad that my butt’s not there?” Guy snarked, lifting his face from the water to look up at him.
             “It’s a great loss.” Thomas chuckled, “All the ladies would cry to see it absent.”
             “Sometimes you have to lose what you have to know how good it was.” Guy sighed, fanning water over himself, “Maybe everyone will appreciate my butt more after this.”
              Thomas laughed, retracting his hand from his dorsal fin, turning his attentions back to the mini-Moog.  He had to keep this up somehow…  Only two hours and thirty minutes left…

               Somehow, Thomas passed the remainder of the hour plus another twenty minutes without letting the cat out of the bag.  In spite of Guy’s best attempts at information fishing--more like drilling--Thomas held firm.  Though, realizing that staying around Guy was going to increase his chances of slipping up and Guy probably needed some time alone, Thomas took his leave of the bathroom to carry out household tasks.  Being honest, he had somewhat been ignoring some of the things Guy used to accomplish around the house these past three months…  Dust was piling up, the wood floors needed to be cleaned, the rugs needed to be cleaned…
              Completely not doing any of those things, Thomas went back to Guy’s room to finish up the cleaning job.  He brought a spot cleaner for the mattress, deciding that maybe it could be saved.  Spraying a cleaning solution on one of the blood spots and placing the scrubber on top of it to do it’s work, he peered about the room.  A sour smell still hung in the air in spite of the absence of an abundance of blood…
             Moving the spotbot from one splatter to another, Thomas rather clumsily knocked one of the pillows from the bed, knocking over a small garbage can.  He cursed under his breath again as the contents of the can spilled over the floor by his toes.  For a second, he considered going back into his room to get his glasses, having not counted on needing them.  Instead, he knelt down to clean the mess up, righting the can and putting what appeared to be crinkly tissues back into it.
             First off, ew.
         When he found bloody tissues, his earlier frown deepened.  In his mindless task to put everything back in the can, he came across something curious.  It was small, hard, white, round on one end and had four prongs on the opposite side.  Squinting and bringing it up to his eyes, he gasped and threw the object back into the garbage can, wiping his hands on the mattress.  His mouth hung open as he slowly gathered the courage to look back into the can and dig through it’s contents.  With absolute certainty, he knew what he had found on the floor was a tooth, a molar to be exact.  As he dug past the gross tissues, he found another tooth…  And another…  Still more…  Once reaching the bottom of the can, he found a nest of perfect teeth, smudged with dried blood.  Counting them all, he found exactly thirty-two…  He found a collection of whole fingernails, likewise stained with blood and the sight was too much for him to bear.
         His stomach heaved and thankfully, there was that garbage can at his disposal.  His mind traveled back to his thoughts of days prior:  Guy-Man screaming as his body forced itself into a new shape.  He imagined his teeth falling out and being spit into the can with streams of blood, or perhaps, crazed with pain, Guy-Man had actually plucked his own teeth out to help things along; way must’ve needed to be made for his thousand odd, new, sharp teeth.  Thomas felt his stomach convulse again, pushing more of what was left of his last meal into the can.
         With a sniffle, tears dripped from his face to the putrid liquid below, “Guy…”  He croaked, sitting the can aside and holding a hand over his mouth.  Squeezing his eyes shut, he sniffled again; he shouldn’t have left for San Francisco…  He might not have been able to do anything for him, or even knew what was going on when this finally happened to Guy-Man, but at least he could’ve been there for him.
         You would’ve been fucking useless.  He told himself, But it would’ve been better than what you actually did.  Pushing his face into both hands then, he sobbed quietly,  You ran away from him because he was weird, what kind of fucking friend are you?  The demons in his head whispered, He came to you for comfort and you left him, you selfish asshole.  Thomas sobbed into his hands for awhile longer, leaning against the mattress by his head.
         He really should’ve just dusted the living room, he thought as he spit into the trash can one more time in an attempt to rid himself of the awful taste…  He could’ve gone without knowing, or at least speculating, about any of this.  This could have been avoided, he never needed to find this, he could’ve waited for Guy-Man to clean up his own room after this was all said and done.  They would’ve needed to buy new sheets and maybe a new mattress, but…
         Why are you searching for reasons to ignore how awful this is for him?  He asked himself, sniffling again as he stood.  With jerking motions he pulled three tissues out of the box on the nightstand and blew his nose into them.  He didn’t know exactly where to go from where he was with this new knowledge.  Asking Guy-Man about it would doubtlessly lead to less than positive results, but…  For a reason he didn’t know, he somehow felt that all the pain he had gone through was his fault.  So, for that reason, he had to know the extent of it.
         The pool needed to convert faster, Guy deserved so much more than what he was getting.


           “Well, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.”  Guy opened as soon as Thomas walked into the bathroom at the end of the three hours.  “Is everything…  All right?”
             Thomas sat down at the edge of the tub, his elbows on his knees, face cheek resting pensively on his folded hands.  Swallowing, he broached, “I found your teeth.”
             “I’m sorry…  I…  I thought it was better than leaving them on the bed.” Guy self-consciously shifted on his stomach, his tail curling tighter.
             “N-No, I’m not criticizing…  I just…”  Thomas stared at the tile, “I’ve been wondering…  Would this have still happened had I not left?”
              “I’m… Not sure.  Not really.”  Guy diplomatically answered.
              “It just…  I s-saw the bleeding, but…  Could I have somehow…  Prevented this?”
              “This isn’t your fault, Thomas.” The elder of them jumped in immediately, “This is a hereditary repercussion.”
              “But you needed me…” Thomas mumbled, shame dripping from his words.  “W-Why didn’t you…?  I would have…”
             “You didn’t know.” Guy tried once more.  However, the urge to not bullshit Thomas kicked back in, “But…  I did…  Come to you for help.  I wasn’t upfront with everything, maybe, but…”  Sighing, he deflated in the bathtub once more, “I think you might have found out anyway…  All of this,” He motioned to his tail, “might not have happened, but you still would’ve found out.  Keeping secrets from you sucks.”
             “I didn’t know what to do.” Thomas murmured, his words barely even a whisper.  “I’m sorry I left.  I didn’t understand anything and…”
             “We all make mistakes, it’s okay, Thomas…” But Guy’s tone told Thomas all he needed to know.  Not only had Thomas actually left to get away from him, but he had lied about it and admitted it.
             “I wanted to make up for how shitty I’ve been…  I have a surprise for you.”  Thomas stood, wiping his face and the very beginnings of tears.
              “A…  Surprise?” Guy-Man’s right eyebrow climbed his forehead, “That explains earlier, but…  What kind of surprise…?”
             Thomas smirked and outstretched his arms towards Guy, “You’ll see.”

Chapter Text

             “I don’t like this!” Guy declared, shuddering in Thomas’s arms, his long tail dripping on the carpet of Thomas’s bedroom.
             “Maybe this wouldn’t be so difficult if you just stopped wiggling!”  Thomas chastised, tossing Guy up higher in his arms.  He had been heavy enough when he had first found him in his bed, now that he’d been eating properly and was wet all over, keeping a decent grip on him was a challenge!
             “Don’t drop me!” Guy fretted further, clinging his arms around Thomas’s shoulders all the harder as they exited Thomas’s bedroom and went into the hall.  “What’s so important that you have to take me out of water to see?”
             “It’s a surprise!  I-I’m not,” Thomas gritted his teeth with effort, his arms starting to tire already--geez, he was so out of shape!  “telling you!”
             Guy let out an undignified squeak when Thomas tossed him up once more, his claws latching into his friend’s shirt.  His tail wiggled futilely to wrap around Thomas for any kind of purchase and really only made things that much more difficult on Thomas.
             “I can do without the claws!”  Thomas yelped as he began to descend the stairs. “That hurts!” He complained further, trying to both keep Guy in his arms and shake off the claws lodged in his skin at the same time.  The first part didn’t work so well.
             “Thomas!”  Guy screeched, feeling himself slide down his form--accidentally raking the claws along his back and ripping through the material of his shirt.  His tail hit the wood of the staircase and he wiggled further, as if trying to get purchase on it with his profound lack of legs. “Pick me up!  Pick me up!”
             Meanwhile, the human in this endeavor had just realized he had been badly scratched by the merman’s claws.  Tiny strips of blood discolored his shirt and he let out a half surprised and half angered noise of pain.  He supposed, in retrospect, he should’ve found a more effective method of scared shark-out-of-water transportation.
             “Oh my, God.  Thomas, are you okay?!”  Guy let go of his friend, just about sliding the rest of the way down the stairs on his rough belly.  He lifted his hand to his face, seeing the red streaks on his claws and tiny shreds of skin.
             “I-I’m fine!  Stop that!”  Thomas kept a strong hold on Guy under his arms as the rest of him flopped around in externalized inner turmoil.  “I can fix it just…  Ugh!” Thomas heaved, throwing Guy back up into his matchstick arms.  He wrapped an arm around the muscular tail and got his ass the rest of the way down those terrible stairs.  “Please stop wiggling, it’s the wiggling that’ll make me drop you.”  Thomas sighed, Guy finally settling in his arms.  He sighed again when Guy rested his cheek on his shoulder and closed his eyes; this was more how Thomas had hoped this would go…  Smoothly and without bleeding.  Obviously, that had turned out to be a bit much to hope for.
             “Where are you taking me?” Guy muttered against Thomas’s shirt, his hands clasped around the back of his neck.
            “Someplace better than the bathtub.” He reassured him, giving Guy’s slender upper body an encouraging squeeze.  “Can you turn the doorknob for me?”  Thomas questioned, bouncing Guy a little as they stood before the kitchen door to outside.
             Guy squeezed Thomas again, “Are you taking me to the pool?” The merman wondered, cracking his eyes open and ascertaining how he could perform this request without losing his balance.  “We’ve talked about this…”
             “Just turn the knob, please.  I don’t want to have to put you down.”  Thomas flicked his eyes to the hard tile of the kitchen floor.
             Sighing, Guy reached out--the grip of his other arm around Thomas tightening significantly--and opened the door for his chauffeur.  Immediately, he clasped his hands back together behind Thomas’s neck, but he sniffed the air as he squinted his eyes at the sunlight…  There was something…  Different.
             “What did you do?” He asked, no caustic scent of chlorine burning his nostrils and, in fact, replaced with the faintest scent of salt spray.
             “I-I-I had the-the pool converted t-to saltwater!”  Thomas tripped over his own reveal as his excitement became too much to bear.  “Is-is-is-is…!?”  He growled at his own inarticulateness.  This always happened whenever he got too excited!
              “Shh, shh,” Guy tried to pat Thomas’s neck, “calm down.”  Though, it stood to say, the excitement was palpable in Guy’s voice as well.  He twitched in Thomas’s arms and yearned for the space to swim and just…  “you didn’t have to do this for me.”  Guy murmured, raising his bloodied hand to his mouth to cover it in astonishment.  “You didn’t…”  he paused, sniffing.
             “I wanted to…  I figured…  I-I-I’ve…  B-Been…  Such a jerk to you, and-and…”  Thomas just trailed off, his hold on Guy becoming tighter, but not out of trying to hold him aloft, it was more cherishing.  A hug was a better way to describe it.  Guy had remained silent, but with Guy, their relationship was so much less about the verbal than it was the physical presence of one another.  Thomas thought nothing of his companionable silence, just staring at the placid, clear water of the pool.
             Guy’s tongue, meanwhile, slunk out from between his lips, clearing the blood off his face and fingers.  He shivered.
             “A-Are you cold?” Thomas questioned the shudder, finding that somewhat improbable considering that it was probably somewhere in the nineties on the fahrenheit scale outside.
             “No.” He replied after a few seconds of silence, relaxing his newly-cleaned hand behind Thomas’s head.  “Just hungry, is all.” Guy sucked on his tongue, appearing to be in thought, “I’m also excited.  Can I…”  He looked up to Thomas, his pupils dilated wide, “Can I go for a swim?”
             “O-O-Of c-course!”  Thomas merrily brought Guy over to the edge of the pool, but suddenly was met with a dilemma…  “U-Uhm… How…  How do you want me to put you down?”  It felt somewhat rude to just throw him into the water and he didn’t want to risk Guy hitting his tail on the concrete or otherwise…
             “Can you just step into the pool and release me that way?”  Guy wondered, swallowing thickly.  Was he nervous?
             “Oh…”  Thomas found himself suddenly reminded of just how…  Uncomfortable he was with the notion of being in the water with a carnivorous being…  A carnivorous being with significantly greater swimming skill than his own…  It didn’t make things any better that Guy had just announced that he was still hungry after earlier.  It made all of Thomas’s “common sensibilities” scream at him.
             “Um…  You can sit on the first step of the pool, I think.  I just don’t want to go in on my back.”
             “I’ve still yet to-to see what happens though!”  Thomas joked to ease his jitters.
             “Maybe sometime.”  Guy responded, significantly less hostile than last time the idea was broached.  “For now, I’m just excited to stretch my tail.”  It disgusted him to say that, but, it was the truth.
             “L-Let’s see here….”  Thomas stepped into the cool water of the pool, trying to slowly sit down on the edge and merely managing to plop down on the concrete.  At least it wasn’t painful and Guy didn’t somehow hit his head on anything.  Carefully leaning forward, he waited for Guy to stretch his arms out and brace them on the second step down before letting him turn over in his arms.  It really was a thing of beauty when Guy thrashed his tail--successfully drenching Thomas in the process--and swam away into the clear, blue depths of the pool.
             Thomas grinned as his friend swam in concentric circles in the shallow water, his dorsal and caudal fins breaking the surface a few times.  Thomas wondered just how angry Guy would get if he played the theme from Jaws on his phone in this moment.  As Guy dove to the bottom of the deep end of the pool, Thomas raised a curious eyebrow.  What was he doing over there?
             Leaving the pool steps and walking around to the side of the pool by his diving board, he peered down into the water.  Guy was apparently swimming in corkscrew patterns and twirling about.  Just what was he doing?
             Thomas got his answer a few seconds later as Guy launched himself and breached the surface of the water, essentially doing a barrel roll--and again adding to Thomas’s already waterlogged state--before landing back in the “waves.”  The laughter that followed from Thomas was nothing if not understandable as he watched his friend have the time of his life with all the new space.  Placing his hands in his pockets, he waited for Guy to poke his head from the surface, still grinning down at him.
             “Having fun?” he questioned as if it was even something up for debate.
             “Come swim with me!” Guy threw his hands up in delight, his tail swishing back and forth to keep him steady.
             “O-Oh… Um…”  It felt like a stab to his heart to deny Guy something so simple…  Especially when he looked his happiest as he had in days.  “I’m…”
             Guy’s expression drooped, “You what?”
             “You said you were h-hungry and I don’t have any food left for you.  I think I need to go grocery shopping, to be honest.” Thomas tried to excuse.
             Guy was silent.  He looked down to the water and then back up to his friend, “That’s fine.  I’m kind of tired anyway…  I think I’ll take a nap.”
             His lie was obvious.  It wasn’t fine.  He wanted to swim with his friend and have fun.
             “O-Okay.  I’ll b-be back.  I think the fish market down on the docks is still open.  I’ll get you something good!” Thomas grinned with great enthusiasm.  That surely was some kind of consolation!
             “Oh, you will?”  Guy gave him a skeptical look.  “What about the scales and--”
             “What are filters for?” Well, this particular kind of filtering was not necessarily what they were for, but, it would work.  All things considered.
             “You’re gonna be doing a lot of cleaning.” Guy reminded him with a chuckle.  “I really appreciate this, Thomas…  Thank you.”
             “Anything for you.” Thomas’s smile broadened.
             “Except a swim, right?”
             “This isn’t about the swim.” Thomas diverted, “I haven’t really gone shopping to get you a supply of food yet.  It’s not fair to you to have to stay hungry where I can always go out and get something.”
             “Yeah.” Guy replied quietly, his eyes searching about the pool once more.
             “Well…  I’ll see you in a few hours.  Have fun!” Thomas bid him, turning to leave as Guy answered him in kind, the sharkman raising the claws of one hand up to his teeth to chew on them.


             Thomas felt disgusting driving back from the fish market.  He felt sweaty and sticky and he smelled horrendous.  It stood to say that the establishment had been properly cleaned and Thomas, hence, was not going to complain about it and accidents happen on the account of individual vendors, but he was…  Disgruntled with his visit.  Most would likely have thrown up once being floored by a slick of fish blood sitting on the already somewhat wet floor.  Nope, however, he had already fulfilled his quota for that for the day!
             The vomiting part.  Not the slipping on fish blood part.
             He had also, rather erroneously, left the house without changing his clothes post his “Free Guilly” session in his pool.  The blood on his shirt was not only fishy, but his own as well and torn.  Combined with his very unkempt hair, unshaven face and sopping wet clothes, he had received a less than welcoming atmosphere amongst the various vendors.
            On the one hand, it was nice that nobody recognized him and it gave him thought to revisit this “hobo chic” look someday when he felt the need, but for now, it really was inconvenient.  Though, he had to say, the look on the vendor’s face was positively hilarious when he not only requested five pounds of tuna steaks, but a whole king salmon as well (little did Thomas know the same fish would be all but extinct in the two years following).  He just seemed to be entirely flabbergasted that this ugly, unkempt man was so confidently buying up some of his most expensive fare and not even batting an eyelash.  This was normally Guy’s job to feel smug, but, as Guy wasn’t present, Thomas had felt it his duty to step in.
             With his truck loaded up with paper-wrapped, bleeding animal for Guy’s enjoyment, Thomas had requested a plastic trash bag to line his driver’s seat with before departing.  That being said, Thomas didn’t have the most effective air conditioner in this car and while the fish itself was fresh and hence did not smell, this did not keep the dried slime on himself from smelling up the joint.  As he was busy marinating in it, however, this was not something he was going to notice until the next time he entered his car.  What a delightful surprise that would be.
             That being said, Thomas grabbed the very large, very whole fish under one arm and his large paper bag of other fishy miscellany in the other as he made for the inside of his home.  It needs to be noted that as one of these packages was a bit heavy, that it slapped onto his sidewalk once or twice, but his fishy friend was sure to not notice its abuse.  Once inside said home, Thomas next faced a new challenge…  Fitting the whole fish in his fridge.  One would consider the purchase of a seventy-five pound fish a grave mistake with such limited space, but not Thomas!  Oh no!  Ever-optimistic Thomas Bangalter would make this shit work!
             There was shifting, taking things out, moving shelves around and all together just a general action that could best be described as “cramming” before Thomas successfully stored the head-on fish in his refrigerator…  He would request Guy eat it for dinner the following night as he wasn’t sure how long he could take it staring at him every time he opened the door for something.  The tuna steaks were far easier to store.  In fact, as he reduced the package from five pounds to four pounds by taking out a steak, it just made things all the easier.  A bag of headless, but otherwise whole fish called smelt also populated the fridge and a small, wrapped package of ocean perch was nestled somewhere in between the larger orders.  Thomas wasn’t certain Guy would like all of these selections, but it was worth a shot.
             Armed with the side of bleeding, redfish, Thomas stepped from his kitchen out to his back patio and pool.  Not seeing Guy lazing in the last rays of sun or just generally lolling about was slightly concerning.  Deep down, Thomas knew that in his absence, Guy must’ve been mind-numbingly bored.  Sure, he had space to swim now, but he wasn’t inside the house with the keyboards and technics at his reach or even the television…  He was, for all intents and purposes, in a glorified fish tank.  Even worse, he wasn’t even inside anymore, a taken for granted human comfort to himself…
              Thomas sighed, there seemed to be nothing he could do for Guy that didn’t come with serious drawbacks.
             Stepping up to the edge of the pool, he spied Guy’s dark form at the bottom.  Yelling didn’t seem practical and he wasn’t about to reach his body into the water and tap it…  Guy was a predator though, wouldn’t he be able to sense movement in the water?
             Prepared for whatever behaviors might come of this, Thomas, his hand wet with the blood leaking off the tuna steak, decided to toss the steak into the pool.  Considering that his shirt was already ruined from the day’s earlier adventures, he just wiped his hand off on the harried fabric, eyes trained on his friend.

             Guy’s reaction, at first, was sluggish.  He turned his face upwards, curious about the sudden motion, his green hair fanning out in the water.  His eyes first locked onto Thomas’s towering form above the pool, but his nose caught something far more interesting.  The scent of blood in the water addled his mind and made his stomach rumble.  Taking a deeper breath of water and able to taste the blood now, he frantically shot his gaze about until they targeted the source.  A small, shadow near the man standing at the poolside, better yet, in the water, somewhere at the surface.
             He had to have it.
             His stomach grumbled loudly, he gnashed his teeth and sped upwards towards his prey.

             Thomas watched the water’s surface break with a flurry of activity.  The first thing he noticed was that Guy had not reached his hands out around the hunk of flesh, rather, had charged at it with his mouth open.  It almost appeared that Guy had unhinged his jaw for such an action as the powerful set of teeth ripped straight into it, the excess water either sprayed out of his gills or flowed from the sides of his mouth.  His hands were an afterthought as the black, saucer-like eyes took notice of Thomas, they coming up to hide and further cram the rest of the meat into his greedy maw.  Just like that though, Guy was there and then he wasn’t, already returning to the bottom of the pool.
             In that moment, Thomas wondered if Guy was still upset with him over earlier.  His refusal to swim at the time had seemed like a logical one…  Even after his apology earlier, it seemed Thomas was still being an asshole…  With a sigh, he steeled his nerves, he supposed that sitting in the water with him wouldn’t be that bad…  Walking around and stepping down to the second stair of the pool, he sat, feeling the relatively warm water lap around him, rewetting his shirt which had only just fully dried.

             Finishing the provided meat, Guy noticed the tall figure from earlier had gone, for that second, the blood in his nose still a ruling force in his decision-making, he couldn’t place why that displeased him so.  Worse than displeasing him, it made him sad.  It made him want to keen and wail his sorrows to the air above, but as soon as the thought crossed his mind, his nose picked up more prey.  The scent wasn’t as clear or definite as his first kill, but that was unmistakably blood belonging to a warm, fleshy creature.  Turning about for shallower water, he raced for his prey.

             Thomas waited in the water, almost coming to the conclusion to stand up and leave as Guy didn’t yet appear to be interested in his presence.  Had he really made him that angry earlier?  It sure looked like it clear until Thomas saw the dark shape swiftly round the corner of his pool.
             “Oh, there you are.”  He smiled, doubting Guy could hear him, but it came naturally nonetheless.  It was a bit concerning that he wasn’t slowly down though…

             Warm, fresh, meat.  Guy launched himself from the water.

             Thomas’s warm smile quickly turned to abject terror as Guy leapt from the water, his mouth wide, his eyes black and hurling for his face.  He opened his mouth to scream and did so all the way up to when the teeth snapped closed barely an inch from his nose.
             Guy could swear his hair was blowing in the breeze from the force of Thomas’s scream.  Or maybe it had something to do with that he had landed right on top of Thomas and had knocked him backwards on the concrete, thrusting what was left of his air out of him.  Either way…  That was still a close one…  All Guy could say to cover up his shame was “Got ya!”
             Meanwhile, dizzy and trying to gain his air back, Thomas thrashed in the water, trying to get out from underneath his would-be devourer.  Had he not used the facilities while out earlier, he would’ve pissed himself.  He had been so sure that he had been staring death in the face for that second.  That was just…
              “W-W-W-W-What the fuck, man?!” Thomas shrilly screeched, his heart hammered, tears pricked at his eyes, he hiccupped…  He feebly tried to shove Guy off him, but the merman clung tight.
             “No, no, no!” Guy quickly tried to soothe him, “Shhh!  I didn’t mean to scare you that bad!  I was just playing around!” If only Guy could say for certain that was what his motivations were…  Thomas smelled like food…  Or his shirt did anyway, as he quickly realized it had fish slime all over it.  “I’m sorry!”
             Thomas hiccupped again.
             “I’m sorry…”  Guy whispered, reaching up to stroke Thomas’s face very gently.  “Shhh…  You’re okay…”
             Thomas sniffled, looking away.  At a loss for anything to say.
             “Can I convince you to stay for a bit…?”
             “I…  I-I-I…”
             Guy put his arms the rest of the way around Thomas’s shoulders, pressing his cheek go his chest, “I’m sorry.”  Thomas’s smile had been so beautiful…  Seeing his face so contorted with terror made Guy want to weep.  All the more he wanted to weep because he knew he had been the cause of it.
             “I n-need to go in-inside.”  Thomas hiccupped once more.  “I-I-I n-need to-to-to-to,” there was a tiny sob and Guy embraced him tighter, “sh-shower.  And-and-and-and…”  The words died on his lips, he just needed to be anywhere other than with Guy.  Somewhere where this monster that looked like Guy wasn’t.  Somewhere where Guy’s lips weren’t so close to his own.  Somewhere that he could escape the tantalizingly soft touch of his undeniably caring hands.  He needed to protect himself from this as he had for years.  If he wasn’t already screwing things up with this behavior, something else about himself would.
             “Okay.”  Guy acquiesced, slipping off Thomas’s front, turning his tail and disappearing back into the water.

             Thomas’s dreams were anything other than comforting that night.
             He saw himself back on the beach, a white blouse on and blowing open in the ocean breeze.  His dark, shin-length pants were soaked with seawater and in tatters.  At the edge of the surf sat his best friend....  Guy was nude, the bumps of his spine exposed in the sunset light and it seemed quite unnatural to see Guy so thin.  It was even more unnatural to see him curled over in grief, sobbing into his hands.
             Thomas stepped into the white foam of the dying waves, sitting down next to his friend.  He lifted an arm, settling it around the small of Guy’s back, pulling the shorter man against his body.
             “It’s going to be okay.” He tried to comfort as Guy so often did for him.
             “No, it’s not.” Was all Guy said.
             “I can make it all right.”  Thomas reached out with his other hand, turning Guy’s face to him.  Well…  It was Guy’s face, not as he normally saw it, but as it was these days.  His eyes were black, watery with tears, his skin rough and scaly and his mouth struggling to contain his hundreds of teeth.  His delicate features were still there all the same and Thomas smiled to him, “You’re beautiful.” With his fingers, he combed Guy’s hair, not caring that they snagged on the viscous slime that coated it.  Leaning in, slowly, Thomas pressed their lips together in a chaste kiss.  “I love you.”
             Thomas became aware of music in the background of his dream…  It occurred to him that this was a dream…  A nice dream, but still a dream.  So far from his reality.  When he next looked to his side, Guy was gone, but was sitting in his lap, his hair cascading down his back and into the water.  No, wait, the water was his hair!
             “I love you so much, Thomas.” Guy sobbed once more, leaning in to kiss him in kind, but before he could, his body disintegrated into sea foam, washing over Thomas and drowning him in sorrow.

             Thomas awoke with a start, taking in a deep, frantic breath.  He was sweating again, but at least not overladen with morning wood.  Groaning, he rolled over in his bed, noticing that it was all sopping wet with his own sweat.  Maybe he was getting sick…  That would explain everything.  The handling the raw fish might be what’s causing it…  And he was covered in something else’s blood after getting cut yesterday…  He felt shaky and wrong.  He also still had to feed and entertain Guy, no one else could after all.
             Just feeling like saying “fuck it” to the rest of the day, Thomas rolled over in his sweaty bed, trying to ignore the sun and everything it stood for.  Alas, it was not to be so, his phone rang from his bedside table.  Snatching it up, he looked at the caller ID and determined that no, he couldn’t skip this one.
             “Hello?” He tried to sound cheerful.
             “Thomas!  Hey!  It’s Tom!”  Their new manager, right…  “So, I have a deal for you and Guy…”
             Thomas knew he should’ve been enthused by this, but all he felt as his and Guy’s manager expounded his ideas at length was a deep, foreboding sense of dread.

Chapter Text

              After last night, and after the phone call that interrupted his morning laziness, Thomas opted to ignore Guy for as long as possible.  What better way to ignore him--and make his guilt rear its ugly head once more--than to clean up after Guy’s mess once more.  Guy’s mess that was caused by Thomas…
             Shaking his head and trying to keep his feelings on this at bay, he gathered his cleaning supplies of rubber gloves, a scrub sponge, bucket of water, and a bottle of bleach.  Wanting to make sure the fumes from the bleach didn’t make him sillier than he already was, Thomas drew the blinds and pushed open the window.  The bright, California sunlight streamed in, highlighting just how dirty the bathroom had become...  He then lugged the supplies over to his primary objective and looked down into the free-standing, large tub; the first thing he noticed, was the green rings on the inside of the tub that made him cringe and the second thing gave him pause.  Squinting his eyes, he saw a peculiar sparkle beneath the dirty water by the drain.  It was more than one sparkle too!  Did Guy shed scales?
             He doesn’t have scales…  He has denticles.  Not that Thomas understood fully what a denticle was, but he had some idea it was what gave Guy’s skin its matte color and roughness.  Once putting his gloves on, he reached down into the water and plucked up three, no four…  No…  There were a lot of these sparkly things.  Pulling his hand out of the tub, he examined a palmful of small, blue-green, smooth gemstones.  Or, he assumed they were gemstones by their hardness and the way they shined and sparkled when held in the sunlight.  Where did these come from?  He internally wondered, his mouth falling open in awe of their beauty.
               In the closet, Thomas kept an ashtray for Guy’s convenience.  Thankfully, Guy hadn’t been able to use it the past few days, meaning that it was still clean.  He dropped the gems into the dish and set them aside, knowing he would need to ask Guy about them later.

             After spending a good few hours cleaning and getting the house organized, Thomas came to the realization that he could no-longer put off going outside to see Guy.  Guy needed to eat and Thomas needed to address some inevitable problems that they had been, so far, able to avoid.  He reached into the fridge and pulled out the bag of smelts, pouring a healthy amount into a bowl and extricated one of the bleeding tuna steaks as well.  It hadn’t occurred to Thomas before that Guy probably need to eat more and more often than a human did as even in his times of rest, he still had to swim.  His guilt over this whole situation was just compounding by the day.  No amount of apologizing would ever be enough for him....  However, assuaging guilt was not what apologizing was for, he reminded himself.  It wasn’t Guy’s job to forgive him for the shitty way he had been acting.
             The sun was hot at noon, beating down on the salty water of the pool and on Guy’s back as he lazed at the surface, his head face down in the water, and his long, green hair extending outward in rays like predatory tendrils.  As he was floating on the surface though, Guy’s back and dorsal fin were exposed to the warm sun in places his hair didn’t protect.  Thomas smiled, the man did often love to fall asleep while sunbathing.  At least, Thomas was fairly certain he was asleep by the way the water placidly flowed out of his gills on his back.  Not wanting to surprise him…  Or have a repeat of whatever yesterday’s horrific event was, Thomas stepped to the side of the pool and splashed his hand in the water.
             “Mmn?”  Guy raised his face from the water, but the seeing thing was still impossible as all of his hair lifted out of the water with him and covered his face.
             “Rise and shine!” Thomas called, “Should I call you ‘Ringu’ today?” He giggled at all the dark, wet hair obscuring his friend’s vision.
             “Shut up.” Guy grumbled, diving beneath the surface to get all of his hair to flow in the correct direction before surfacing again and twisting it all in a practiced motion into its knot at the base of his neck.  “I’m sorry about yesterday.”
             “Nah…  It’s…  It’s okay.” Thomas assured him, sitting down on the concrete and crossing his legs as Guy lazily swam over.
              “What’s in the bowl?” Guy asked as Thomas handed him the tuna and he bit into his brunch.
               “Smelt, actually…  They kind of reminded me of French fries, but fish…”  He chuckled, pushing the bowl closer to the edge of the pool for Guy to get a look.
             “You dork.” Guy set the tuna aside in the water, letting it float and slowly drift as he reached into the bowl and pulled out three of the gutted, headless fish.  Curiously, he licked them with his pointed tongue, “Never had smelt before.  I’ve heard it’s good fried…  Like French fries.”  The merman giggled as Thomas really hadn’t been far off at all.  Finally taking one into his mouth, he chewed and nodded, finishing the other two and picking the tuna back up.
              “Decent?”  Thomas inquired, wanting to know if his instincts had been correct.
             “Yeah, not bad.”  Guy took another bite of the tuna.  “Can I have some coffee?”
             Thomas hit the side of his head, “I knew I was forgetting something!  Be right back!”  Oh, how foolish Thomas had been!  He really couldn’t expect his announcement from their manager to be taken well at all without his morning coffee…
             Returning with a black mug, fancy letters reading “The Boss” scrawled on its matte surface, Thomas handed the mug of dark liquid to his friend in the pool.  He sat back down as Guy took his first few sips.  The tuna was gone, a few meager smelt still lined the bowl, so at least Guy was fed…  That seemed to be a good enough circumstance for Thomas to speak, “So, Tom called this morning…”
             Guy went still in the water…  Stiller than was normally humanly possible, Thomas supposed it was a predator thing though and so pressed on, “He wants us to schedule some… Interviews…”
             “More like he already has them scheduled and he just wants us to sign off on the paperwork?”  Guy grumbled sipping more of his coffee and never seeming more like his usual self than in that moment.
             “Yeah, he faxed the forms over this morning.” Thomas sighed, “I’m trying to stall for as long as possible…”
             Guy grumbled some more, but was not otherwise vocal about the issue.
             Thomas recognized that extra stress was definitely not what Guy needed right now if this problem was to be fixed any time soon.  He reached a hand out to very gently pat Guy’s shoulder, “We’ll get all this figured out…  And-And…  In the meantime…  Would you be able to do phone interviews?”
             “Thomaaas,” Guy whined, sitting the coffee down on the inside ledge of the pool, the salty water lapping up the sides of the mug.  “I don’t like interviews by myself!”
             The taller man giggled, “That won’t be necessary though!  We can just do it on speakerphone so I’m also there.” He consoled, knowing that it really didn’t offer much to the situation.  “We obviously can’t do any…  Public interviews or go to any radio stations…”
             “Can I just stay like this, then?” Guy joked, dipping his face up to his eyes down into the water.  In spite of his sharky features, it was actually…  Rather cute!
             “You really want to stay in this goldfish bowl?” Thomas giggled.
             “It wouldn’t be so bad if you came in to swim with me.”
             An awkward silence followed once more…
             “But, I know you’re currently covering all the housework with me out of commission…  And doing everything that’s also not in the house…  How is the purchasing of our studio going?”
             Thankful for the change of topic, Thomas nodded, “It’s going… I’m still waiting for the space owner to get back to me.  I would rather we own it than we constantly pay them rent, but, as you know, he’s being stubborn in parting with it.”
             Guy thoughtfully nodded in kind, “Maybe it’s not meant to be for that place?  It is pretty out in the open and I’d rather it not be so easy to find.”
              “Want us to be like hermits?” Thomas playfully splashed some water into Guy’s face.
             “Do you really want fans up our asses?  With the ever-growing internet,” Guy sighed, “I don’t think our identities are exactly going to be secret for much longer.”
             Thomas did have to agree that he had a point…  “Yeah, I think we can search for somewhere else in that case.  I won’t be interested in moving at all once we have a space secured.”
             “Did you tell Tom that we’re working on new material?”
              “No, not yet.  I didn’t know if you thought that what we had was useable.  It seems…”  Thomas shrugged.
             “Isn’t the best work ordinarily done with gusto?” Guy reasoned, paraphrasing an author he had been forced to study in his youth.
             “You have a point…  I’m having dinner with Tom tonight, I’ll be sure to bring it up.”
             Guy’s face fell, “Oh…  You’ll have to tell me how that goes.”
             “I wish you could come.” Thomas admitted sadly, “It doesn’t seem right to be talking about albums without you.  Or even just meeting with Tom without you.”
             Guy shook his head, “It’s cool, you need to take care of all our business right now.  I just wish I wasn’t so…”  He lifted his arms from the water, examining his rough skin, webbed fingers and serrated fins poking off his elbows. “Useless right now…”
             “You’re not useless.  You’re going through a rough time right now.”
             “Which makes me useless.” Guy muttered, trying to distract himself with another sip of coffee.  “Can you leave at least a moog and some recording equipment out here for me?  I want to do something while you’re away.”
             Thomas looked skeptical about bringing the expensive equipment outside.  Sure, it hadn’t rained in forever, but it was still around a large body of water…  To make matters worse, Guy, as resident of that body of water, could accidentally fry himself if something went wrong!  His concern evident in his voice, Thomas said “I don’t think that’s a good idea.  I-I don’t want you getting hurt.”
             “I’ll be fine!” Guy desperately grabbed for any sort of entertainment he could gather, “I’m bored out here, Thomas!  I’m…  I’m very appreciative of you doing this for me,” he made a motion to the pool, “but I’m not an animal, I can’t just be entertained by swimming in circles, or poking a ball around with my nose, or wrestling a pool noodle.”  While those last two were quite hilarious and somewhat cute to imagine for Thomas, he was nonetheless in agreeance with him, “I can’t touch books, I can’t write music, I can’t smoke, I can’t drink, I can’t go to the gym or run, I can’t draw…  Or paint…” Guy’s voice dropped in volume as each piece of everything he enjoyed as a human was ripped from his grasp, “I’m going insane here…”
             Thomas’s frown deepened immeasurably at the despair in Guy’s eyes, “I’ll see what I can do…  I’m just scared with all the electrical stuff…  I don’t want to come home to shark fin soup if you know what I mean…”
             Guy nodded, silent.
             “I don’t know what I would do without you.”
             “Eh, you’d get along somehow, I’m sure.”
             “No.  I don’t think I would.”
             “Me neither.”
             They sat for the next fifteen minutes in companionable silence.  Guy finished his coffee and the bowl of smelt.  Thomas took off his shirt to combat the heat, but only ended up raising his likelihood of burning his skin in a different way.  It was Thomas that ended the silence though, finally remembering something he had meant to ask.
             “I was cleaning the bathtub earlier and I found these rocks at the bottom.  Do you know what they are?”
              “They’re gemstones, actually.” Guy corrected, “You should see if they’re worth anything.  They’re a bit small though.”
              “Where did they come from?”
             Guy shrugged, “They’re just kind of around merpeople.” That was far too vague for Thomas’s liking…  If Guy didn’t want to tell him though, maybe it was embarrassing?
             “Do you know what kind they are?”
             Guy hummed for a second, “Aquamarine is what Mom always called it.”
             “Hm, too bad I can’t think of any of our lady friends that are born in March.” Thomas chuckled and Guy laughed with him.
             “I’m sure you can sell them to someone.  They’re flawless, I assure you.”
              “So, they just kind of appear?”
             “Kind of.”
             “Will I be picking them out of the filter when I clean it?”
             “Dunno, depends.”
             “Depends on what?”
             “Just depends.”
             “You’re having fun leading me on like this aren’t you?”  Thomas smirked to him.
             “Me?  Leading you on?  Guy tsked his tongue and shook his head, “You should know by now that I would never.”
             “Of course not.” Thomas snorted, “You’ve never had a less than pure thought in your life.  Never once gotten me into trouble.”
             Guy rolled his eyes, “Are you still on about that?  We gave that moped back anyway, so it worked out fine!”
             “My cousin still hasn’t forgiven you.”  Thomas reminded, “His cat was never the same after that.”
             “And I suppose he’s also still mad about the leather jacket?”
             “No one is going to deny that it looked dashing on you, Guy, but no, he hasn’t.”
             “He holds grudges worse than the cat then.” Guy huffed, “With how dashing I looked and your family line, I would’ve thought he’d have had a better sense of humor about it all.”
             “When was Jacque ever known for his sense of humor?” Thomas kept the conversation alive for the hell of it.
             “The way he dresses seemed to say as much.”
             The two then laughed in unison, unmistakable mirth building in Thomas’s crinkled, chestnut eyes. His best friend would just never change.

             The hours in between lunch and Thomas’s meeting with Tom could not have felt any shorter.  In that time he tweaked with some music and moved what equipment he dared out to the side of the pool.  He compromised to take the heavy rubber mats out of his car and lay them beneath the equipment and its cabling.  It didn’t make Thomas feel very safe, but it was at least some peace of mind.  In that time, he also received a phone call from one of their old friends.
             “Hey Thomas, it’s Laurent.  I tried calling Guy already, but he’s not picking up.  Neither are you though…  So, I can only assume the dirtiest of things are finally happening between you two.”  It had been a few months since either Guy or Thomas had heard from their friend or his bandmates.  “Just letting you know we’re going to be doing a show in your neck of the woods soon.  Would sure be great if we could see you both.  Thomas has been asking about you two.”  For a long time, Guy and Thomas questioned whether or not the two men were seeing each other…  The results of their interrogations were always anything other than conclusive.  “Anyway, I assume you’re busy with whatever hive-mind antics you’re up to these days.  Ever thought about putting out a new album?  It’s been years guys and you really should tour.  Your fans have got to be squirming by now.”  A fact of which Thomas considered with some enthusiasm and Guy looked at with an eye of disdain.  “Or you can just let them keep squirming and you can laugh in your solitude as you point at them on top of your mountain of cash.” Laurent evilly laughed on the end of the line.  “Anyway, hit me up when you get this message, toodles!”
             This was not a message Thomas would be sharing with Guy.  Other than the part abot them going to see a Phoenix show and catch up with their friends.
             “Why is your face all red?” Guy asked.
             “N-No reason!”  Thomas had continued then to connect all the necessary cabling.
             When it was time to leave, rather than yank the behemoth fish out of the fridge, he chose the wrapped package of perch.  The salmon would have to wait for a night Thomas could afford time to either cut it all up or immediately clean the pool’s filter afterwards.  He handed the package to Guy and left directly afterwards, nearly tripping over his own feet as he left through the side fence door rather than the front door.

             In Thomas’s absence, Guy did very little recording work at all.  He floated in the pool in the sunset light.  He blew agitated bubbles in the water and pulled another fillet of perch from the package to chew on.  Perch wasn’t his favorite by any means, it had so little flavor to him!  Nonetheless, Thomas had tried and it made the perch taste all the sweeter.  Swimming up to the steps of the pool, Guy curled his fin beneath him and sat.  It wasn’t a very comfortable position for his body, but it made him feel at least slightly better to be sitting in a more human-like fashion.
             Beginning to hum to himself quietly, he ran his fingers through his hair, twining locks together and letting them slide out again as the difficult strands had other ideas in mind.  Humming a bit louder as he found a beat he liked, he mumbled under his breath “Loove, looove, Maake looove.”  He continued to hum a beat to himself, mumbling his meager lyrics under his breath whenever he felt the need to.  With a click of his tongue, he moved over to the recording equipment and cleared his voice.
             Limited as he was with his tools, he was at least able to make a base beat to work off of along with his voice.  He would have to rely a good deal more on Thomas’s judgement for the track as he couldn’t be present for a lot of its production.  Once satisfied with his short loop of words, Guy backed away from the moog and the small recording device hooked up to it.  It was hot today and he didn’t much enjoy spending too much time out of the water on such days.  It dried his skin out and made him itch and his hair stickier than normal.
              He slid himself back into the water with a sigh and swam to the bottom to be alone with his thoughts.  He had a lot of time with that recently.  A lot of time to consider things he had done and hadn’t done, things he had planned to do…  Which were now completely ruined by his current status.  Letting out a stream of bubbles from his lung, he allowed himself to roll over onto his back, basking in the sudden release of endorphins.  His eyes fluttering closed, he let out more bubbles, sinking deeper into the water until his dorsal fin bumped against the bottom, offsetting his body for him to lay on his side.
             “Mmm,” he groaned under the water, casting his eyes up to the rippling light of the surface above.  “I want to be with you.”  It was only after he spoke those words that he realized how cliche he sounded, rolling his eyes at himself.  Do I also want to see him dancing?  Up where they walk?  Up where they run?  Sometimes he didn’t mind spending time in the sun if he had legs to be honest.  If he had a copious supply of water on hand, he didn’t mind and even opted for sunbathing.  These idle days will be the death of me.  Or of his sanity at any rate.

              Thomas, meanwhile, stumbled back to his house at five in the morning.  Dinner with Tom had turned into drinks with Tom, and damn did that man ever know how to hold his liquor.  After catching the cab home, Thomas groped up to his door and about fell flat on his face in the entryway.
             “Guuuuy!” He called into the house, “Guy!  It was amazing!  You shoulda…  Shoulda…” Pausing to hiccup, he continued on “Shoulda been there!”  Fumbling with his house keys, he dropped all of them on the floor and huffed before unwisely bending over to pick them up and then falling onto his face.  “Bother.” he grumbled against the wood floor, sitting back up to rub the most prominent--and attractive--protuberance on his face.  The fall must’ve been exactly what he needed to knock some sense back into him, because he then remembered that Guy wasn’t in the house anymore.
             With a bit of difficulty, Thomas thrust himself to his feet and stumbled towards the kitchen in the infantile light of morning.  Once out on the concrete, he yelled, “Guuuuy!” and stumbled his way right over to the edge of the water.  Getting onto his knees, he leaned out over the water, “Guuuuy…?””

             At the bottom of the pool, Guy heard the ripples created by Thomas’s hands more than the words.  Grunting, Guy squinted, expecting the sunlight, but instead, found Thomas barely a dark shadow in the barely awake world.  That was Thomas though, that awful bastard still waking him up at ungodly hours of the day!  With half a mind to just leave him hanging and ignore him, Guy arose to the surface, growling deep in his throat, “What?”
              “Guy!” Thomas cheerily giggled, his cheeks bright red from all his imbibement.
             “Thomas…?”  Guy blinked, “Are you…?” He sniffed.
             “Drunk? Hell yeah!”  Thomas giggled again, wobbling and pitching forward slightly, much to Guy’s surprise.
             “You shouldn’t be anywhere near this pool!” Guy panicked, lifting out his arms as if to catch him.  “You’re clumsy already!  No!”
             “But I m-miiiissed you toniiiight.”  Thomas groped out with an arm, patting Guy on the head.
             “What time is it?  Did you just get back?”
             “Uh…”  Thomas paused, taking his hand back to balance himself before he fell face first into the water, “Um…  I think last time I looked it said it was 4:30, but that was a-hic-awhile ago.”  Thomas giggled more as Guy shook his head, “You’re my best friend.”
             “You’re my best friend too.” Guy sighed, still trying to push Thomas back farther onto the concrete and away from the water.
             “I-hic-l-love you sooo much.”
             Guy chuckled fondly, “I love you too, idiot.  You really should go to bed.”
             “B-But, you’re out here!  And my bed’s in… There.” Thomas waved an arm behind himself at the big, dark house.
             “I know, I know.” Guy rolled his eyes, not sure how the bed exactly related to this in Thomas’s world…  “Please go to bed…  I’ll sing for you if you do!”
             “S-Sing?  F-F-For m-me?”  Thomas awed, “B-But you never sing!  N-Not even f-for me!”
             “I’m offering now, aren’t I?” Guy reminded in deadpan.
             “O-Okay…  But if I go upstairs…  How will I hear you?”
             “I’ll sing extra loud.”
             “Y-You really w-will?”
             “Sure will.  Just go and lay down in your bed and I’ll sing.”
             “O-Okay!” Thomas grinned and thrust himself to his feet, wobbling on his legs at first.
             “Wow, you’re really drunk, eh…?”
             “Y-Yep!” Thomas cheerfully declared, heading for his kitchen to go up to his bedroom.  Guy was super nice to offer to sing to him!  Oh, this was going to be so great!  His difficulty surmounting the staircase aside, Thomas flopped down into his bed with a wide grin, snuggling into his pillows and comforter.  He hadn’t even bothered taking off his shoes, but, he was so excited!  Guy was going to sing for him!  So, he waited….
             And waited…
             His eyes grew heavy.  Still waiting.
             After a few more minutes, he was out, drooling on his pillows.

             A deep, flowing and ebbing, endless ocean…  Water washed up his legs and tickled the hairs of his belly.  Thomas took in a deep breath and sighed.  His eyes tracked across the dark sky, liquid light and color flowing between the glimmer of stars.  Not once did the notion even occur to him that if he could lay on a beach beneath the northern lights, he would be freezing to death.  The air was warm, the sand of the beach comforting beneath his back, and across his chest…  Across his chest laid an arm.  Thomas didn’t even have to look to know whose it was.  He just closed his eyes and ran gentle fingers up it.
              “It’s so beautiful out here.”
             “All for you.”  Guy answered.
             “I just want to…  Fall asleep, but…  I don’t want this perfect moment to end.”
            “You need to sleep, babe.”  The arm across Thomas’s chest lifted, running over his lips.
             “I want to stay up with you.”  Thomas rolled onto his side, his gorgeous best friend laying in the sand and water, his blue eyes catching the lively lights above them.  “I want to look at you, just a little longer.”  He leaned across the space between them, giving him a feather-light kiss.
             Guy smiled and Thomas felt his face pull into a grin.
             “You have my favorite smile in the world.”
             “Sleeeeeep.”  Guy pleaded in a whisper, combing his fingers through Thomas’s sodden curls.  “You deserve it after everything.”
             “After… What?”  Thomas was then, once more, aware that he was in a dream.  The rush of the waves wasn’t a white noise of gently crashing water, but a distant, almost mumbled song.
              “Shhhhh,” Guy caressed his fuzzy face, reminding Thomas that he hadn’t shaved in quite a few days.  “Sleep, rest, you need it.”
             “Do you hear that?”
             “I’ll be here, at your side. Just dream on.”  Guy kept stroking his face.
             “Do you not hear the song?”  Thomas wondered, his body feeling too heavy to stand.  “Why don’t you hear it too?”
             “Shhhhhh,” Guy kept on, still smiling Thomas’s favorite smile with Thomas’s favorite face, still stroking with Thomas’s favorite hands.
              “Can you say anything else?”
             “Sleep.”
             Letting the man win, Thomas dropped his head back to the sand, the landscape of his night becoming deep, restful blackness.

               Needless to say, with a night of great sleep under his belt, Thomas was raring to go for just about anything when he awoke!  Well…  Almost…  He still had a headache, and his stomach--oh god, don’t talk about his stomach!--hurt, but the rest of him was good!  With a stretch and a yawn, Thomas stood from bed, having to pause for a second as he didn’t really remember how he got home, but he had a good idea that he didn’t drive.  Tom would never allow that to happen.
             Scuttling on over to the window in the bathroom, Thomas peered down to the backyard pool.  Guy was but a tiny, motionless line at the bottom of the blue water.  So, still asleep!  Thomas flicked his eyes to the clock.  Oh… It was 11:00!  His brows crinkling in thought as he placed his hands on his hips, he tried to remember just when he even got home…  Well… Okay, maybe that wasn’t important, what was important was getting his car back!  Should be simple enough though...

              Thomas’s thoughts about an hour ago didn’t really match up to what actually happened.  Through some careful detective work, Thomas learned that he actually had driven drunk at one point last night.  As it had turned out, it was just to go from the restaurant to another bar.  The very idea made Thomas scratch his head because he didn’t even remember that part!  If he was already that smashed, why the hell did Tom let him drive?  Couldn’t they have walked?
              Chalking the dangerous drive up to “drunk people logic” Thomas then went on to learn that his car had been towed and impounded in the wee hours of the morning.  It seemed he had parked in what had been a parking lane at the time, but had to be opened to a driving lane upon morning rush hour.  So, from there, it was necessary to catch a taxi to the closest impound lot to find his things.  Though it was likely the lot it was in, it was just his luck that it had been a slow morning and his car hadn’t even been logged yet!
             He needed Guy with him, bad.  Come to think of it, had Guy been with him last night, this never would’ve even happened!  He wouldn’t have drove the car off the lot of the restaurant, Guy probably would’ve been the DD even, so even if the car had been in the same parking lane, it wouldn’t have been there past six!
             Hungover, but well-rested at least, Thomas sat in the waiting room, his face in his hands, grumbling.  Today was going perfectly…  Worse yet… He hadn’t even had the time to tell Guy he was going out this morning!  Oh, what if he thought Thomas had forgotten about him!  Nervously, he checked his watch; it was nearly 1:00!  He couldn’t even call him!
             As if the world sensed his distress, the person behind the counter finally, clearing their voice, announced Thomas’s relief, “2005, Silver, Honda CR-V?”
             “Y-Yes!  That’s me.”  Thomas stood and shuffled over to the counter that was positioned behind a thick pane of bulletproof glass.  From there it was another thirty minutes to go through the paperwork and pay to get the car out of impound.  Overall, it was not something Thomas ever planned upon repeating.  Once he had the car, however, he sped home as fast as possible.  It was already 1:45 and Guy was probably pissed.

             Parking the car in its port, Thomas bolted through the house, nearly breaking his neck on the area rugs strategically placed on the shiny, hardwood floors.  He had never honestly thought that he had built a deathtrap for himself until the moment he slid and hit the front door on his entryway rug.  Though, maybe he should’ve had some kind of consideration for that from all the times his foot caught beneath the rugs in his morning shuffles for coffee.
             Anyway, from the entry hall, he passed into the kitchen, wondering if he should take some food with him as a peace-offering or if it was best just to explain the whole situation first.  Either way, the sight that met him on th other side of the door was anything other than ideal.
             “Guy!” Thomas panicked, seeing his aquatic friend beached and baking under the Californian sun on the concrete.  By the way his arms were outstretched, he had dragged himself from the steps of the pool towards the kitchen door on his stomach…  And from the jagged scratches on the glass, had tried and failed to open the door.  His heart jumping into his throat that Guy was bone-dry and unconscious, Thomas bnet low and hefted his friend into his arms.  Guy’s dry skin was rough and flaking, burnt red specifically on his shoulders.  The dried mucous in his thick hair was hard where it had been exposed to the sun and as thick as syrup in the under layers.  Thomas knew this was all his fault.
             Hauling Guy back to the pool, Thomas stepped into the warm, salty water.  his minimal clothing from last night didn’t hinder his swimming too much as he pulled Guy, on his back, into the safer environment, but it did still weigh him down.
              “Guy!” He shouted at him, keeping his face above water to slap his cheeks.  When the shark-man didn’t respond, Thomas dunked him down into the disturbed pool.  When that didn’t work, Thomas got a very…  Interesting idea which only proved how little he truly knew about the functionality of gills.  Pulling Guy’s face out of the water again, Thomas took a mouthful of water and opened Guy’s mouth.  Being careful to not get his tongue or lips too close to his teeth, he forced the water into his mouth.  Finding that water just pooled his mouth, Thomas pushed their lips back together.  As would while performing CPR, Thomas breathed into him, he was rewarded by the rustle of water along Guy’s back, spurring renewed effort within him.  Realizing, however, that this plan wasn’t going to work all that well, he had another idea.  Holding Guy’s mouth open beneath the water, he pulled him along, hoping it would push a greater volume of water through his collapsed, dry gills.  By now, Thomas was crying, the tears indistinguishable from the already salinated pool of water.
             He had to stifle his growing sniffles as his distress increased, needing to stay calm all the same as he finally reached the deeper end of the pool.  A gasp escaped him, a happy one, as he looked into the rippling water and saw Guy’s eyes open and trained on him.
              “Guy!” Thoams pulled the man’s face out of the water, “A-A-Are y-you okay?!”
             No response, but, Guy’s eyes shifted, as if trying to grasp just who Thomas was.
             “Please, speak to me!”  Thomas sobbed, worry not having yet subsided.  “Please, Guy, I’m sorry.”
             The upsidedown merman’s lips twitched, a choked noise forcing itself from his lips.
             “W-What was that?” Thomas leaned down to listen closer.
             “Hhhhr.”  Guy growled.
             “Uh…  A-Are you okay?”
             “Hhhrrrm…”  His whole body twitched, but remained firmly inverted.
             “C-Can you blink?  O-O-Once for y-yes--”  Thomas fell silent as Guy blinked.  He sighed, feeling his heart slow.  “A-Are you okay?”
              Guy blinked in response.
             “Oh, thank god!”  Thomas cried, this time with joy.  “I-I-I’m s-so,” the crying continued, “s-so sorry!”
             Guy’s body twitched again, but it proved ineffective.
              “Why can’t you move?” He worried and received another growl, one of frustration, he guessed.  “Should…  Should I let you go?”
              If blinks could be emphatic on their own, that would’ve been the best way to describe his answer.
              “O-Oh,” Releasing Guy, Thomas treaded back from him, watching him sink slowly to the floor of the pool…  Sensing that something must’ve been wrong, Thomas considered swimming down to collect him, but as Guy landed on his side rather than his back, Thomas witnessed a sudden, violent twitch in Guy’s body.  Finally flipped onto his stomach, when his black eyes snapped up to look at Thomas, the fear of the sea-creature shot into Thomas anew.
             Run!  Every part of him screamed, sending him clamoring for the side of the pool and hoisting his clothing-bogged body from it.  He wasn’t nearly fast enough, Guy’s sticky, powerful hand caught his ankle, tripping him on the concrete.
             “You left me out here!” Guy shrieked.  “I’ve been yelling for you!  You couldn’t possibly have been asleep this whole time!”
             Feeling that if he was somehow in a life or death situation, Thomas clawed at the rough, hard ground with his fingernails, thrashing his leg.
              “I depend on you!” Guy continued to berate, “Do you know how hungry I am?!”
             The mention of Guy’s hunger only made Thomas flail all the harder, his foot nailing Guy straight in the face in his panic.  With the surprise making Guy’s grip falter, Thomas crawled the rest of the way onto land.
             “You forgot about me…”  Guy lamented as Thomas flung himself against the wall of the house, away from him.  “Why did you kick me?” he asked in a tiny, pathetic voice.
             “I-I-I…”  Thomas’s breath heaved, his heart hammered and Guy floated innocently in the pool, holding his nose.  “I…  I don’t k-know.”
             “Are you still afraid of me, Thomas?”
              There was a pause.  For the longest time, the only sounds were the world around them.  Thomas curled up, his body dripping.
             “Maybe.  I’m sorry.”
             “I would never hurt you…”
              “I know.”
              Another lull.
              “I’m hungry…”
             “Okay.”  Thomas stood, legs wobbling, unable to meet Guy’s gaze.  He turned to head back into the house.
              “Thank you…  For putting me back in the water…”
              “Don’t mention it…  It was my fault you were even out of the pool.  I’m sorry…  It’s…  It’s been a morning.”
              “Do you want to talk about it?”
              “Yeah, after you finish eating.”  Thomas agreed, leaving the kitchen door open as he prepared the meat.
               “How did Tom respond to the material?”  Guy called into the house, resting his arms up on the warm concrete.
              “Positively.  I only had really bad recordings on my phone though.”  Flip phone speakers weren’t really all that good either…  “I didn’t want him to really go too far into the advertisement planning though…” Thomas continued, “Considering the…  Tumultuousness of right now…”  Reaching into the fridge, Thomas hauled out the massive fish, putting it on the granite countertop of his kitchen island.  It was so gross having the sticky, dead animal on the pristine, dark space, but, it wasn’t like he had a cutting board big enough for it.
              “Smart.”
             “He’s not backing down from the phone interview ideas though!” Thomas called, collecting a knife and stabbing down into the meat.
              “Shiiit.” Guy complained, his nose catching a whiff of blood in the air as Thomas hacked.  His stomach grumbled, he hadn’t eaten at all yet.  “At least he’s not pushing for in-person…”
             Coming out with the salmon’s tail in hand, Thomas barked, “Catch!”
             With a swift movement, Guy snatched the tail from the air and began chewing on it.  He smiled as Thomas chuckled, happy to see the awkwardness and stress from earlier had passed.  Though, as he ate, he had to pause, “Damn, this is some good shit!”  He picked around the spine of the fish, blood and loose scales smearing over his lips.  “What kind of salmon is this!?” He crammed the rest into this mouth, only the sharp, hard caudal fin poking from his lips as he crunched through bones.
             “King salmon.” Thomas declared with a bit of pride.  “Bought the whole fish, just for you.”
              “Oh…” Guy swallowed, taking the orphaned tailfin from his mouth, “Thank you… It’s delicious.” He licked over his fingers, placing the inedible piece on the side of the pool.  “What happened this morning?”
             Thomas groaned, taking off his shoes and resting his feet in the water by his friend…  Maybe he could slowly get used to this idea.  Eventually he told Guy the ins and outs of the morning’s events.  Guy nodded along, and in the end shook his head playfully.
              “You were so wasted when you got back last night.”
             “D-Did I wake you up?”
             “Yep.” Guy giggled, “You were your normal drunk self.”
             Thomas couldn’t even imagine how that went…  His penchant for physically demonstrative affection spiked from its already high base levels when he was drunk, “I didn’t try to swim with you did I?”
             “No, but you came pretty close to falling in a few times.”
             “How did you get me to-to go inside?”
             Guy laughed, “I told you I’d sing you to sleep!”
             Thomas blushed, bright red, “O-Oh…  And I…?”
              “You were very excited.” Guy assured him playfully.
             “And…” Thomas smirked, “Did you sing?”
              “I promised you I would.  So, of course.”
               “What did you sing?”
               “Uh…”  Guy looked to the recording equipment, “Sort of like what’s on the disc in that.”
               “Oh?!”  Thomas turned around with great enthusiasm, “You sang for a track?!”  Scuttling over to the machine, Thomas pressed play, letting the sweet, light tones of Guy’s voice flow over the backyard.  “Mmm,” Thomas closed his eyes, smiling, “makes me wanna go back to sleep.  I had the best night’s sleep ever last night, coincidentally.”
              Propping his face into his hand, Guy smiled back over to Thomas in kind, “Well, I’ll just have to sing it to every night, then.”
             “Sure.” Thomas played off the comment with a laugh before studiously bending over the tiny moog and tweaking the tones of his best friend’s sweet voice.  “I’d probably never want to listen to anybody else sing ever again if you did.”

Chapter Text

             After the circus of that morning, Thomas appreciated the quiet afternoon and evening that followed.  Once collecting the material Guy had provided him with, Thomas retreated inside, leaving Guy to his own devices--which, to be honest, were probably very boring.  For a few hours he boggled over their new material.  As expected, however, Thomas found himself almost unable to say when enough was enough.  He huffed and fiddled and moaned and tweaked.  This was nearly impossible without Guy.  However, he intended, nonetheless to have something to show for his work after such a long time spent.  It was not like Thomas didn’t produce solo work or anything, it was just difficult to take stuff that felt specifically Guy and work on it without his help.
             As he slowly grew more and more frustrated, his eyes flicked to the icon of the internet browser on his desktop…  The internet held so much information…  Why hadn’t he thought of doing more research on Guy’s kin before?
             Figuring that he could use a break, he selected the icon and waited for it to start up.  He chose an engine, starting with something simple, like “Merman mythology.”
             The first few links were not entirely helpful.  Mostly, they contained image caches of artistic interpretations.  Most which didn’t resemble Guy in the slightest!  They were perfectly chiseled men, perfect half-human-half-fish hybrids.  They lacked Guy’s claws, sharp teeth, elbow fins and other-worldly eyes.  Moreover, he noticed that most had horizontal fins, more like dolphins, rather than Guy’s vertical, shark-like configuration.  On the other end of the spectrum of ridiculous, appeared images of the bishop fish…  A fish with a human face, legs and arms.  The image disturbed Thomas, and hence he moved on until he, at last, found something of some use.
             The first thing that struck him was a section on the tears of mermaids…  “Aquamarine was commonly given to sailors for good luck as it was widely believed that they were the tears of lovesick mermaids.”  Thomas blinked as he finished the short fact.  his eyes flicking to the ashtray the small, perfectly smooth blue stones sat in.  Guy had been crying?  Well, that was just one more thing to add to his list of “why you should feel like an asshole.”  He hadn’t even found any of those while fixing up Guy’s room…  Trying to make himself feel better, Thomas moved on to the next portion of the text.
             “In some mythologies, sirens and mermaids are the same creature.”  Though, there was a note that they were once depicted as being closer in appearance to the harpies of Greek mythology, at some point, a gap was bridged between the two.  The phrases “alluring tones” and “intoxicating voice” stuck with Thomas…  He would say that he did find Guy’s voice very attractive, but, he put the notion from his mind.  It wasn’t like he ever hallucinated being “home in Ithica” while speaking with him after all.  Even if Thomas could, in a more romantic sense, describe Guy’s voice as sounding like home.
             With the articles located giving him some food for thought, Thomas leaned back in his chair.  how much of this should he, or could he believe?  He had always been a man of more technical mindset and it just seemed…  Impossible for most of what he had read to be true about his friend.  Guy had already debunked, after all, the notion of an underwater city.  The way he described his own kind was that they were closer to animals than anything…  Though, Guy had said he was human.  Of course he might think as much of something he didn’t delight in being.
             With a mumble, he glared over to his desk clock.  It was getting late and he still needed to check if Guy needed anything before he was going to head off to bed.  Standing from his desk, Thomas stretched and strode out the door, down the hall to the kitchen.  Scratching at his belly, the motion-sensitive light pointed at his back patio turned on and he approached the edge of the green, glowing pool.  Guy looked bored out of his goddamn mind, rubbing his hands over his face and swimming in circles.  Thomas couldn’t even imagine!
              “Guy, I’m getting ready to go to bed, do you need anything?”
             “No.” Guy answered, his voice flat and every bit as bored as Thomas had been able to ascertain.  “I’m so…  Fuck, I just want… Something to do!”
             Thomas frowned, shaking his head, “I’m sorry that most things require legs…  And being dry…  I wish I could help.”
             “It’s not your fault.”  Only a partial truth.  “I just…  Need to see this as a vacation.  A staycation,” Guy mused. “When was the last time I could laze around the pool all day and not worry about anything?”
             “Well, you are worrying about something, actually…  Just not… Not able to do anything about it and I think that’s just making this situation worse.”  Thomas stepped closer to the pool’s edge before continuing.  Guy was still swimming around in lazy circles in the center of the pool.  “Do you feel any less stressed at all?”
              “I’m trying to relax, Thomas…” Guy huffed and swam his way over to where Thomas was standing, “I’ve tried changing back…  But it’s not sticking.”  He reached a hand up out of the water, wiggling the claw-tipped fingers at him.
             Thomas bent down and took the hand, giving the back of the wet appendage a comforting stroke with his thumb, “I know you’re trying.” Thomas admitted, wondering if he should mention what he found out about the aquamarine stones…  Had Guy been crying?  Guy had said that whether or not he found the stones in the pool’s filter would depend.  It depended upon whether or not Guy was happy and felt secure, Thomas supposed.  It was evident to him that if Guy was crying frequently enough to leave so many of those gemstones in the bathtub, that he wasn’t doing a good job of that.  Also, it meant that Guy was the farthest thing from being not stressed.  “You don’t have to rush,” he told him.
             “How much longer can we keep telling Tom I’m sick?” Guy posed.
             “Well…  W-We’ll figure that out as it comes, okay?” Thomas squatted down to relieve the ache starting to build in his back from bending.  “Everything is going to be fine.”  He gave the hand a light squeeze.
             “I don’t know, sometimes.” Guy admitted, not wanting to let go of Thomas’s big, warm hand.
             “It will be, I promise.” Thomas smiled and slid his hand out of Guy’s grip.  “Good night, buddy.”
             “Yeah, sweet dreams.”

             Crying…  Thomas heard crying.  The worst kind of crying.  Crying at the loss of something precious.  Not the loss of an object, but the loss of…  A person?  The loss or death of a dream?  It made Thomas cry, it made him ache, it drove him mad.  He needed to find who was crying, though he had a good idea already of who it was.  Thomas threw himself at the ocean, there was a rock with a figure curled up.  Oh…  It was harder to swim in the ocean than he thought…  The waves were tall, his body was small…  A wave washed over Thomas’s head, plunging him to the bottom of the sea.

             Waking up from his troubled dreams, the sorrow lasted in Thomas’s breast.  The room was dark, the bathroom silent…  Outside though, beyond the closed window, Thomas heard a song.  It was unlike any popular tune he had ever heard, it had no words…  It reminded him very much of the nigunim sung at his synagogue as a child.  Before his father and mother slowly drifted away from the temple.  The notes of the context-less song were each, nonetheless, perfect.  Though Thomas could only barely make them out, they intrigued him, drawing him to the window overlooking his pool.
             What he saw was not what he expected; sitting upon the shallow steps of the pool was Guy-Man, his sinuous tail curled around him to keep him in place.  He ran his fingers through his hair, braiding the dark, wet lengths into each other.  His mouth was open, his lips moved, Guy was singing.
             Thomas’s chest wrenched, the song was so sad.  The song was lonely.  It brought tears to his eyes and Thomas raised  hand to his lips to choke back a sob.  He felt…  Unloved, he felt bereft, he felt hopeless and, and, and….  Thomas placed his hand on the glass of the window to push it open.

             “Thomas, go back inside.”
             Shaking his head, Thomas blinked and looked around.  He stood in the door frame of his kitchen, staring out at Guy sitting on the pool steps.  When…?  He tried to remember leaving his room, going down the stairs, crossing the kitchen…  There was nothing?  Was he dreaming?
             “Go inside, go to bed.” Guy spoke again.
             “How did I…  When did I-I…?”
             “Just now.”  Guy muttered, not seeming to find this at all unusual.  “Were you sleepwalking?”
             “I…  I guess?”  Thomas puzzled, observing Guy’s unblinking, black eyes as they reflected the green light glowing up from the pool’s underwater lights.  The unnatural light sculpted the harsh, inhuman angles of Guy’s body; he had never looked more alien to Thomas.  Even as he had laid bleeding and demanding in his bed, he still had looked like himself in some way.  The creature that sat a the poolside was, once more a foreign creature.  he was capable of things Thomas could only imagine…  “Was I…  Or am I dreaming?”
             “I don’t think so.”
             “Isn’t that what all dreams say?”
             “Then, what’s something a dream wouldn’t say?”  The merman asked, his braid falling loosely in front of his right shoulder.
             “I don’t know anymore.”  Thomas shrugged.  “Reality seems more surreal than my dreams as of late.”
            “So,” Guy giggled as Thomas hadn’t heard in months. “saying something normal would make this a dream?” He supposed.
             “Maybe.”  They were both silent after that.  Guy continued to probe Thomas with his eyes, a light of apprehension on his face.  Meanwhile, Thomas examined Guy with a kind of curiosity usually reserved for star-gazing.  “You were singing.”
             “Oh,” Guy looked away.  “I’m sorry.”
             “No, it was beautiful.”  Thomas felt himself blush.  “I’ve never heard you sing like that before.”
             Guy made a huffing noise, his shoulder shrugging as he did, “Go back to bed.  I’m sorry I woke you.”
             “Can you sing some more?” Thomas pushed.
             “No.”  Guy adamantly asserted, diving from the steps and thrashing his graceful tail until he was as far from the surface as he could be.
             Grimacing, Thomas paced closer to the pool, watching Guy placidly swim about in a circle at the bottom--a black ribbon in a rippling, green world.  He was…  Gorgeous.  Maybe he was a bit scary at times, but there was an otherworldly wonder to his form.
             Not that you haven’t always thought that!  He reminded himself, turning from the pool, back to and through the kitchen door.  Once inside, he was again troubled by his lack of memory of traversing his own home.  And…  This has happened before…  Clicking his tongue, Thomas strode up to his room and spied for anything out of place.  Ah, walking into his bathroom, the window was open.  His brows pulling down thoughtfully, he shut the window and locked it…  this was going to require some thought, but he was beginning to piece all of this together.

             After working away his morning wood and showering, Thomas stepped out to the courtyard of the pool.  He leaned over the edge of the pool, finding Guy lying where he had left him the prior night.  It was refreshing to see he had returned to being a late riser.  Thomas had to smile, Guy had finally found a way to sleep that Thomas couldn’t prematurely wake him from.
             Or…  He had found a way to make Thomas too apprehensive to wake him.  Inside, he had to laugh at that concept--all guy ever did when awoken early was snuggle his scrunched face deeper into his pillow.  he would groan and pull the covers over his body.  Mumbling would ensue about needing more time…  Thomas would, chuckling, chastise him and feel his heart flutter at how…  Cute he was.  He would resist the urge to fall into bed with him to snuggle for those remaining minutes…  Not that that would be well-received, they hadn’t done that since childhood.  Not since Thomas had gotten his first actual girlfriend…  He sighed, stepping away from the water’s edge.

             Thomas waited, his phone ringing.  He twiddled his thumbs as the ridiculously long wait time was beginning to get to him.  At long last, however, the desired voice came to him through the receiver.
            “Hello?” Came the smooth French.
            “Hey, Paul.”
             “Thomas?”  The younger de Homem-Christo questioned.  “What’s up, Loverboy?”
             “Oh…”  Thomas blushed.  “I’m fine, it’s more…  About…?”  Why had he even called him?  He was quickly feeling the pressure to bow out here, it could be completely rude for him to be going behind Guy’s back like this…
             “Guy again?” Paul assumed, a long-suffering tone in his voice.
             “Yes, th-things have been…  Rough.”
             “Between…  You two?”  Paul puzzled, Thomas able to hear him sitting down and shushing someone.
             “If th-this is a bad time, I can--”
             “No, it’s fine, Thomas.  What happened?”
             “Uhm, this is-isn’t something I think you wo-would want to talk abou--”
             “I have a new dog.” Paul cut in.
             “Oh.”  Thomas chuckled, “Well, Guy has been…”
             “Toothy?” Paul supplied.
             “Yeah…  Scaley too…”
             “Ah, so, you know about that…?”
             “I found him in bed, like…”
             Paul sucked in a breath through his teeth, “My sympathies.  To him and you.”  After a few moments of silence, Paul asked, “Where is he?”
             “I had my pool converted.”
             “Really?”  Paul sounded astounded, “So, this has been for…?”
             “About a week.”  Thomas nodded, “It’s starting to become frustrating.  Or, it’s been frustrating, getting used to, but, the part I’m t-talking about right now is-is that Tom wants to talk to Guy or see him.  I can’t tell people he’s sick forever…  And I need someone to talk to who isn’t him.  Everything I say is wrong.”
              “I’m not exactly normal here…”  Paul warned, “I don’t do some of the things he does, but--”
              “I didn’t mean someone ‘human.’” Thomas stopped him, “I mean, just someone not him.”
             “Ah, I see.”
             “But, I d-do have a…  A question.”
             “Shoot.”
             “Is Guy a siren?”
             “Sirens are merfolk, yes.”
             Merfolk? Thomas boggled.  There was an actual word?
             “Guy is…  Sort of?  His voice can make you feel things, but…  He can’t make you hallucinate.”  Paul slowly explained.  “Is he…  Singing a lot?”
              “I heard him last night.”  Thomas sucked on his tongue. “I was in my room and blacked out.”
             Paul was silent, “Did he know you were listening?”
             “No…  I don’t think so.  I woke up in the middle of the night.”
             “And, how did he sound?”
             “I wanted to cry.”
             “That drew you to him?” Paul sounded like he wanted to snigger a little.
             “I…  I guess?”  Thomas puzzled, not sure where Paul was going with this.  “I would want to make him feel better.”
             “Your own feelings--not to be an asshole--don’t matter.  When he sings, his are the only ones that do.”
             Thomas was silent for a few moments, “Are you saying he wanted me there?”
              “Why wouldn’t he, Loverboy?” Thomas heard the smirk in his voice.  Paul forever and always seemed to know things without being told.  It was just a part of his existence.  “Did Guy tell you what he’s been so stressed about?”
             “No, he was vague.”
             “Of course, is Guy ever vague with you?”
             “Not normally.  This isn’t a normal situation though.”
              “You’re Guy’s confidant.  If there’s something he’s not telling you…?”
              Feeling a jolt in his chest, Thomas murmured, “Paul, I-I have to go.”
               “Well, don’t sound so put out; you called me!”
              “I’m sorry, I just…”  Thomas clicked his tongue, “I have a lot to think about.”
              “I thought you would…  Do you want me to tell mother?”
              “I think it would be best to leave her out until this has passed.  Thomas shrugged off the suggestion.  “I don’t want to worry her.”
              “But, you and Guy are in a similar situation to--”
              “No, w-we’re no!  We-we’re--”
               “You said you had a lot to think about, you--”
              “Paul, I-I have to--”
              “Tell him.”
             “Thomas ended the call, tossing the phone aside.  Rubbing his hands over his face, he sighed.  A sweat had broken over his forehead, his hands sliding in the cold sheen.  Fleeing to his office, he closed the door, bending over his desk work.

              When he emerged from his cave of music, Thomas felt like he’d had an out of body experience.  There was a moment of confusion that the sunlight--though muffled by clouds--existed at all and he pulled at his beard.  The hair really was getting pretty damn long and he couldn’t take it anymore!  He started up for his bedroom, but stopped when he realized that it was past noon.  Guy might have been awake now, it wasn’t like it was easy to ignore that the sun was high above the pool.  Putting off shaving yet again, Thomas went out to the pool, seeing Guy swimming in circles yet again.
             “Morning, sleepyhead.” Thomas chuckled, trying to get this day started off right with Guy.  The conversation with Paul had affected him more than he wanted to say.  Not to mention the previous day’s revelations…  He needed to focus on making Guy not cry and somehow coming to terms with the fact that Paul had been implying he and Guy had mutual feelings…  It would be so much time wasted if that were the case.  However, Thomas argued to himself, it was important for their music, at one time, for them to remain separate.  “Something About Us” might never have been written if he and Guy had been together.  Thomas didn’t even know if Guy’s feelings stretched as far back as his did, he had no proof of that other than Paul’s knowing smirks from childhood.
             “Mmng,” Guy blew bubbles beneath the surface of the water, something was bothering him.  Maybe today’s lack of sun was what bothered him.  When Guy had two legs, he often enjoyed sunbathing.  “About last night…” Guy began.
             “Don’t worry about it.”  Thomas stopped the words on his friend’s lips, “I was really tired, m-maybe I even was sleepwalking.”
             “You don’t believe that.”  Guy asserted with complete correctness.
             “It’s not important, though.”  Thomas smiled, “Are you hungry?”
             “Not…  Okay, whatever.” Guy blew more bubbles under the water, Thomas banked that he had worked himself into a tizzy about the whole mess.  “I’m hungry,” he admitted, his mouth only half out of the water, therefore making the words a little bubbly in a literal rather than figurative way.
             “Salmon sound good?” Thomas offered.
            “Yeah.” Guy’s voice still sounded uncomfortable, he thrashed the tip of his tail and began swimming in circles more quickly.
             “Are you okay?” Thomas puzzled, pulling his face into an expression of concern.  Just as he did so, a light drizzle began to fall.  He hummed, “Do you want me to put the cover over the pool?”  Though, it seemed rather silly to try to protect the body of water from falling water…
            “Mmng,” Guy grumbled, “please.  It’s worse than rain.”
             Worse than rain?  Thomas thought, storms were very rare in this part of California, but not unheard of in this time of year.  “Do you want me to move you into the bathtub again?” He therefore offered with a certain amount of urgency.
             The merman bubbled under the surface, “I don’t want to go back into the tub.” he blew a few more bubbles and swam in his tight circles even faster. “Mmng, put the cover over the pool, please.”

             Thomas fed his friend a large steak from the salmon--his entire counter bloody in spite of the fact that he had attempted to use a cutting board--and put the cover over the pool.  He knew he was going to have to clean the filter today, whether or not he wanted to.  Really, what he needed to do was invest in a nose-plug or something because with all the waste that was going to be in the filter, he knew the smell was not going to be pleasant in the least.  With that task hanging on his mind, Thomas finally trooped upstairs and got out his razor.  He trimmed his beard first then moved on to actually shaving all the hair off.
            He examined his face in the mirror, on the one hand, he didn’t think he’d changed much at all over the years, but on the other, he paused at how mature the angles of his jaw had become.  Running a finger down his cheekbone to his jaw, over his mole, and finally to his chin, he decided that he wasn’t very ugly at all…  It wouldn’t be surprising if Guy found him attractive.  Well, Thomas was still convinced as always that he could never even hold a candle to Guy’s delicate, chiseled face.
             Still holding his razor, he looked up to his head of curly hair, he needed to cut that too.  How would he look bald?  Guy had done the bald look long ago and while Thomas had cried internally--and externally, let’s be honest here--about the loss of his long, flowing locks, it hadn’t looked bad.  Maybe he could pull it off too!  Considering, with the upcoming release of a new album--it was looking that way anyway--he would have to start wearing his helmet more often again.  Shaving his hair would make the heat inside the balaclava and helmet so much more bearable.  He would still talk to Guy about it and see what he said, he liked running his ideas by Guy, even if they were simple.
             In this moment of self-inspection, Thomas’s phone rang.  Sighing, he plucked it up from the counter of the sink and answered, “Good evening.”
            “That’s all I get?”  Laurent’s French interrupted Thomas’s further internal dialog on the subject of his potential new hair style.
             “That’s all you get,” Thomas chuckled and smiled, he missed his friend, “what’s up?”
            “We’re here; I’m expecting full visitation rights here, or do I have to take Tom to court?” Laurent sniggered, some noise in the background that Thomas assumed to be his little brother and Thomas Mars.
              “I assure you, Guy is going to be the harder to get ahold of one.  He’s been sick for a-awhile now and the-the doctor says he has to stay inside.”  Thomas lied, not easily, he was terrible at that.
            “Really…?” Laurent’s tone was sopping with disbelief, “What’s actually going on?  You two on a staycation honeym--”
             “L-Laurent that’s in-inappropriate.” Thomas stopped him, feeling his face heat up.
             “Oh, come on, it’s not like Paul doesn’t tell me everything he knows…  Well, if he took the time to tell me everything he knows, I think I’d have to free up a couple of afternoons, but he does gossip about you two frequently.”
            Thomas suddenly had the urge to punch the little rat…  But he was far too sweet a man to do that anyway, he would at least like to give him a firm talking to.  He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, “No…  We’re…  We’re not on that kind of level yet…”
            “You want me to say something to him about it?”
            Thomas rolled his eyes, “I left secondary school behind a long time ago, Laurent, no.  If…  If-If anything is going to happen between us, I-I-I’d like to just be between us…”
            “Fair enough.  Paul’s already said he’s leaving it up to you two anyway.”  Thomas would never fail to be amazed at the depth of Laurent and Paul’s friendship.  It was something of a mystery to him, Paul met Laurent when he was very young.  Laurent did visit Guy’s home frequently during their “Darlin’ Era,” but with Paul’s younger age, Guy’s parents didn’t overall approve of him hanging out with the older boys.  Guy and Thomas had both assumed there was something going on behind their backs, but neither could ever figure out what.  The two certainly were a mischevious force to be reckoned with when the occasion happened that they were in the same room together.  “Anyway, I’ll be visiting in the next few days.”
            “N-No you’re not!”
            “Sorry, Paul already told me your new address.  It’s happening, bucko.”
           “Guy can’t have visitors!  He’s very sick!”
             “All the more reason for me to come by and give him some cheer.”
             “Laurent!  Y-You just-just can’t fucking--”
             “Already decided, Thommo.  See ya soon!”  And with a cackle, Laurent hung up.  Thomas slumped, looking himself in the mirror.  This was not helping his own stress levels…  And telling Guy wouldn’t help his…  He needed to find a way to diffuse the impromptu visit and quickly.  Well… He could always just not answer the door.  That seemed simple enough.
             Outside, meanwhile, Thomas heard the storm brewing.  Thunderstorms were rare in California, relative to other places, anyway, they were rare.  It was summer, however.  Hearing a loud crack of thunder outside, Thomas stood up straight, a worried frown beginning to crease his handsome face.  The sun would be setting soon and with the heavy cover of clouds outside, it was already dark.  With a determined expression, he left his phone on the sink counter and headed downstairs for his back courtyard.

Chapter Text

             The sky above was a dark, grey whirl of clouds.  The wind whizzed by through Thomas’s fluffy curls and he stared at the dark green covering over his backyard pool.  It was nearly nine o’clock and Thomas picked a fine time to look up at the sky, because that was right when the clouds decided to open up in sheets of rain.  The droplets pelted his glasses--he had decided that he was going to be out here for awhile and his contacts had to come out--obscuring his vision.  He sighed as the heavy, hot rain soaked through his shirt and he turned his face to the ground to take off his glasses.  There really was no point in wiping them off with the hem of his now sopping shirt, but, it at least got rid of the defined droplets and made seeing through them slightly easier.  As he placed his glasses back on, he thought I should shoot a whole film like this.  Guy wouldn’t go for it.  He already knew that.
            Stepping to the edge of the pool, where the steps were, he grabbed the bulk of the weighted perimeter of the cover and lifted it.  He crawled beneath the cover and settled into the warmer water of the illuminated, green world.  Clearing his voice, he squeaked, “Guy?” into the darkness, letting the cover drop to the cement behind him.  The harsh rain buffeted the surface above while he got settled on the steps, his shoulders in the water, but his head above.  “I’m here.”  he said, increasing his volume and clapping his hands at the surface of the rippling world.
              With baited breath, Thomas watched Guy approach beneath the surface.  He was slow, his dark ribbon of a body slipping through the lights.  Thomas had to resist the urge to back away when Guy raised his face above the water; his eyes black in the relatively low light and the shimmer from underneath illuminating his harder features…  The fear fled Thomas, however, as his eyes detected a sparkle stuck in Guy’s hair…  A smooth stone tangled in the black-green web.  Thomas reached out to him.
             “Don’t cry.”
             “Cry?”  Guy indignantly huffed, tossing his hair.  The display of self-preserving haughtiness was ruined by a crack of thunder far above that spurred Guy into Thomas’s arms.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about…”  he finished.  It’s effect was considerably less reassuring, however, as his face was buried in his friend’s wet shirt.
             “I know what aquamarine is…”  Thomas gently told him, trying to run his fingers through the mass of sticky hair.  His fingers snagged at every inch--Guy made it look so easy!--but he eventually found the stone that had given his friend away.  He rolled it pointedly between his fingertips.
             “Oh…”  Guy peeked his eyes up from Thomas’s chest.  Without the teeth in view…  The black, big eyes were actually…  Very cute.  They looked so innocent as they shined in the low light.  Hardly terrifying at all.  Guy allowed himself to sniffle.
             “I know you don’t like being outside in thunderstorms.”  Thomas’s other arm wrapped under the tendrils of Guy’s hair, around his shoulders.  “I don’t want to leave you out here.”
             “Thank you,” Guy bubbled.  He took a deep breath and sighed, but the relaxation was short-lived as another roll of thunder broke from the rain.  With a squeak, Guy clung tighter to Thomas, “I hate this.”
             “You’re okay,” Thomas soothed.  “It’ll pass, I promise.”
             “I know!  You don’t have to--” Another boom from above and Guy about shoved Thomas over as he curled closer to him.
             Thomas smiled, his entrapped hand still trying to stroke through the merman’s locks.  He began to hum, his voice only barely audible above the pounding rain and loud wind.  This was the closest they had gotten to cuddling in decades…  And for Thomas, at least, it was everything he remembered it being.  Humming still, he moved to pull Guy closer yet, encouraging his tail into his lap.
             “What are you doing…?”  Guy asked, settling his tail beneath him as he did when sitting on the steps.  He was almost worried Thomas would try to put him on his back again with his precarious position.  The idea caused him a certain amount of jittery anxiety, but he tried to quash it.  Thomas wouldn’t do that to him. “Thanks,” he uneasily sighed.
              “No problem, buddy.” Thomas, unwisely, leaned his face against Guy’s hair.  he sighed once he realized every sticky strand was clinging to his freshly-shaven face.  That aside, he found their arrangement comfortable.  As a land-dweller, and general prey-item of a merman, he hadn’t noticed Guy’s warmth before.  There was no fishy coldness to his rough skin.  Where Thomas had initially worried about hypothermia, he found that worry melting away like butter in a hot pan.  Guy was warm, hot even.  Thomas realized, however, that Guy’s body was constantly in motion, his muscles pulling and propelling him along through the liquid world.  Why wouldn’t he always be warm?
             “Are you falling asleep?” Guy questioned.
             “Your hair would suffocate me.” Thomas playfully answered, pulling his face away.
             “It’s not like it’s animated.” Guy chuckled, lifting his hand to insert it between Thomas’s face and his hair.  In a slow stroke down Thomas’s cheek, he slid the hair from his friend.
             Caught at the end of the tender gesture, the two locked eyes.  Guy’s hand remained on Thomas’s chin, claws gently tickling the skin.  Thomas, meanwhile, bit his lip, making his already intriguing lips fuller and pinker.  They still stared at each other, the rain and thunder seeming to have a momentary, polite lull above.  This was the most intimate they had been in….  Months.  Well, speaking strictly on the subject of cuddling, years, obviously, but this was the least weird things had felt between them since Guy had moved in.  Where had this feeling gone?  This trusting feeling of friendship?  Thomas couldn’t find himself believing that all of that had been forfeited with Guy’s pricklier than usual personality.  They had gone through hard times together, they had seen each other at their worst…  Thomas licked his lips.
             “Why did you move in with me?” Thomas asked, his nerves racing in the moment, but his voice was calm and even.  He had brooded over his phone call with Paul and he needed some answers.
             “Because I thought it would relieve the stress I was feeling.” Guy easily answered just as he had prior.
             “What have you been stressed about though?” the younger man pressed.
             “Just…  Things…” Guy’s heart hammered, but he couldn’t look away.
             “Things…  Like…  What…  Things?”
            “Just…  Life things…”  Guy’s raspy tongue flitted out over his lips.
            “Life things you haven’t told me about?”
             “No…  Just life things.”
             “Such as?”
             “Such, like, I…”
             “You sound like me now.” Thomas chuckled.
             “Or you just sound like me.” Guy rebutted.
             “Okay, so we’ve changed positions, then.” The skinny man slyly smirked, “If I were you and you were me, what would you do?”
             Silence followed.  Comfortable silence.  They both were still staring and the rain was starting back up again.  Were they really moving towards each other?  Or just towards something in a more figurative sense?  They both licked their lips, staring at each other blatantly…
             “Can you sing for me?” Thomas asked, successfully breaking the spell between them.  The rain fell heavily once more.
             “Why would I do that?”  Guy perked an eyebrow.
             Thomas shrugged, “To pass the time?”  He indicated the torrential downpour above them with a look upwards.
              “I can’t reall--”
              “I trust you, Guy…”
             Surprised, the merman blew a raspberry, “What does trust have to do with that?”
             Thomas gave him a significant look.  Their usual, comfortable silence followed again.  Guy swallowed and looked away, leaning more into Thomas’s hold.
             “So…  You know about that too…”
             “I know you haven’t meant any harm.”
             Their silence became pregnant with unspoken questions.  Thomas didn’t want to give too much away, however.  Especially when it concerned his dreams…  He didn’t want to test just how much of those were a product of Guy’s voice and his own mind’s interpretations in sleep.
             “I called Paul.  Admittedly…  And asked some questions.”
             “Ugh, that traitor.” Guy grumped.
              “Traitor?  I know about this, Guy, and I want to know more about you.  There are just some things…  I didn’t want you thinking I was accusing you of anything.”  Thomas gently explained, running a big hand softly down his back.  “I wouldn’t want to ask you something offensive…  Again…  Just because I-I’m ignorant.”
              “Isn’t that the point of asking?” Guy reasoned, “If I know you’re trying and just want to understand…”
             “I jus-just…  Thought you would be mad.”
             Guy let out a long breath, “I know I’m not always the most approachable person.”
             “But you never h-have been.” Thomas let out a single, humor-filled noise.  “It is something I should know I can get around by now.”
              “Always you.” Guy answered with complete seriousness, putting his arms around Thomas.
             They sat in each other’s embrace, cheeks touching, but lips separate.  The feeling between them was unmistakable.
             “Are we going to do this…  Guy?”  Thomas’s voice was small in the vague darkness.  The rain had let up outside as well and all that remained with the bluster of wind.
             “What are we going to do?”
             “I don’t know…  I-It just…”
             “Do you still want me to sing to you?”
             “I can’t sleep out here.”
             “Leave your window open?”
             “I have to wonder what our neighbor’s dreams have been like.”
             Guy didn’t answer at first.  Then, slowly, he laughed.
             “They must be considering mental assistance!”
             Thomas laughed along, “I would be too if I hadn’t had similar dreams before!” And it was out…
             “Of mermen?”
             “No, the other thing…”
             “Oh…”  Thomas swore he saw Guy blush.  “Oh…” he looked up to Thomas.  “Are we going to do this?”
             “Do you think I kn-know for s-sure?”
             “I don’t want to…  Risk something.”
              “No, I don’t either.”
             Silence…
             “I can sing you to sleep…”
             “I would appreciate that.”

             Thomas, with the storm having passed, extricated himself from the arms and hair of his best friend.  He had licked his lips and bid him a good night before retreating upstairs to his bedroom to shower and dry off.  With his towel still in hand, he looked to the window.  Guy was waiting for him to open it and if he opened it…  Thomas’s heart thudded erratically in his chest.  If he opened that window, whatever happened was going to be what happened.  He had no illusions about what tonight’s dream would bring and the results of that were to be evaluated in the morning.
             Taking a deep breath, he dropped his towel to hang over the rim of his bathtub and moved to open the window.  The air outside was still humid, heavy with the scent of fresh rain and the salty tang of the ocean farther away.  His eyes searched for Guy of their own accord and found him lazing on the pool steps the rain cover pushed aside.  Guy wasn’t looking for him, he was braiding his hair, like the last time Thomas had spied him singing.
             He cleared his voice, he knew Guy heard him and turned to head for his bed.  He might as well sleep in the nude tonight, he needed a reason to get off his ass and wash the sheets anyway.
             
             Thomas was on a beach.  It always seemed like he was on a beach recently.  As usual, he wasn’t alone and that made it better.  He turned on the warm, wet sand beneath the starry dome of the sky and smiled.  Guy was so beautiful on the dark sand--how he loved his smile.  Thomas rolled onto his side, propping himself up with an elbow, his other arm reaching to brush a lock of hair out of Guy’s face.
             “I love you.” Thomas said, “I have for a long time.”  Or, it wasn’t just Thomas that spoke, they spoke in unison, both him and Guy.  “I love you more than anyone in my life.”  Thomas’s whole body shivered, putting his arm around Guy and pulling him to his chest.  He kissed him as he had always wanted to kiss him, his whole being, his whole self expressing all the things Guy meant to him in just a single gesture.  Of course, such things weren’t possible in the average experience of life, the waking world is limited, life itself seems to always get in the way.
             “Guy,” Thomas sighed, able to feel his hot, dry skin beneath his fingers, feel his lips mingle with Guy’s, feel Guy’s singular arousal rise against his body as they moaned in the sand.  This, right now, in this moment was what he wanted, maybe it was something he had always wanted, but that was something to worry about later.
             Thomas knew this was a dream.  He knew what was happening and he didn’t want to wake up.  He wanted to rut his body against Guy’s, his dick standing at attention by now.  He wanted to make him moan and scream and claw his nails into his back and throw his sweaty head back into the soft cushion of the sand.  He wanted to make Guy the happiest man alive just as Guy had made him happy for all these years.  Why had this taken so long to come to a head?  Thomas decided that lingering on such things had no place here, this was a dream for fuck’s sake!  He could do whatever he wanted and not be weighted down by the practicalities of everyday life!  He could…
             Thomas reached between them, grabbing both of their dicks, starting to tug.  Guy didn’t moan, but his face twisted in pleasure.  The air between them was tense with mounting lust, Guy staring at Thomas all the while.  His lips parted and he moaned, “Thomas….  Thomas…  Oh…  Fuck….”
             The man on top became intensely aware of the music surrounding him.  He fought not to awaken, he knew it was going to happen, things were just getting good!  The music though…  The song…  It was erratic and came in huffing breaths from the singer.
             “Thomas… Thomas!” Guy shrieked, his whole body writhing in the sand.
             In spite of Thomas’s stationary hand--dreams didn’t have to make sense--Thomas felt the knot build in his stomach.  He moaned, sweating profusely as he fell to Guy’s side in the sand.  Uncomfortably, he shifted, feeling his dick almost painfully throb with arousal and it was getting worse.
              “Guy,” he gasped, “I… I-I…”
              Suddenly, Guy’s form beside him reached out, grabbing violently ahold of his arm, “I’m sorry, Thomas!” he almost sounded sad as there was another shriek.  Thomas didn’t even get to question just what he was sorry for, however, because as Guy screamed, he felt the taut rope in his abdomen snap, his orgasm overtaking his perceptions of the dream.

             “Aaaooh….”  Thomas panted, prying his eyes open.  His body was still in the aftershocks of his nocturnal orgasm, he heard a sound outside, but he already knew what it was.  “Ah…” He threw the blanket off his sensitive cock, looking down at it groggily as it pulsed, still dribbling some of his white seed from its head.  With a tired groan, he let the sticky substance sit on his fuzzy belly, he could clean it off in the morning, there was enough of it on his comforter as well, he noticed.  “Guy…” He sighed, reaching out to the other side of the bed as if he would be there.
             Feeling like his bones were creaking, Thomas forced himself to his feet, shuffling into his bathroom and to the window at the far side.  He leaned out the open window and stared down at the pool.  Guy was floating around the top, in fact, he was looking up at the window.  He paused, but didn’t speak, he raised a hand to wave at him, to which, Thomas smiled and waved back.  They could talk tomorrow morning, he decided, for now, it was best just to let the sweet feelings they had ruminate.  To be honest, Thomas almost felt giddy, standing there and dreamily waving down to his beloved merman.  Tomorrow was going to be amazing.

             With a pep in his step and a merry tune in his voice, Thomas rose early, his glee palpable as he descended the stairs.  Once in his kitchen, Thomas readily began whipping up coffee and breakfast for Guy.  It was early and Guy wasn’t up yet, but he couldn’t contain his enthusiasm.  He couldn’t wait to wake Guy up so they could talk about last night.  His heart all aflutter, he made them both coffee, cooked himself some eggs to smear over toast--Guy still had not yet come to terms with Thomas’s easily adopting eating such things for breakfast--and for Guy he decided that more raw salmon would be okay.  However…  To harken back to more pleasant times, he plucked up a piece of sliced bread and smeared it with strawberry jam.  Guy’s breakfasts since moving in had largely consisted of fish for reasons Thomas now understood, he had a feeling that Guy was, perhaps, missing his short, sweet breakfasts.
             Probably missing his sweets in general…  He thought.  Guy often liked to distance himself from his relationship to his impish younger brother, but they both had a sweet tooth a mile wide.
             Once properly having set up both the plates of breakfast on a tray, Thomas futzed and fussed with the items, wanting them each to be perfect.  His obsessive side really took over something fierce when he was excited.  Guy needed to reel him in quite often, as he did with music, as he did at interviews, oh, where would he be today without Guy-Man?
              His morning of wistful contemplation was broken by four hard knocks on his front door…  Holding the tray in hand to bring out to Guy, he froze.
              Who could that be?
             Thomas swallowed and placed the tray back down on the kitchen counter, padding out into the entry hall.  His brows pulled together behind his spectacles, he crept up to discretely peer out to his front porch.  In under a second he went from strangled surprise to livid to panicking.  Not only was Laurent out on his porch--the fuckwad!--but Tom was out there with him!  Did he fucking call their fucking manager just to make sure he wouldn’t be turned away? Or was this some goddamn coincidence?  Either way, Thomas didn’t care, this was bad.
              Laurent pounded on the front door again, “Thomaaaaas!  Guuy-Maaan!” He called, following up in French, “I know you’re in there, Tom says you guys have hardly left the house all week!”  Laurent switched back to English, “Oh, and your car’s out front.  Both of them, think someone’s going to Guy’s Porsche?”  Thomas heard Tom chuckle.
              Thomas remained silent, Laurent nor Tom had appeared to have seen him, so he could still get away…  He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t home though.  Where else would he possibly have gone without either car?  Moreover, Thomas had told Laurent before that Guy had to stay in bed and was still very sick, statistically speaking, it was impossible for at least one of them to not be here.  Thomas, also, probably would’ve been a dick to leave his friend unattended all day so sick--which he already had once before with disastrous results, so, okay--so even then, yep they had to be home.  This was bad.
             “Yo!  Thomas!  Man!  You get up at like four every morning, don’t you dare try to say you’re still asleep!” Laurent continued to yell at the door, the petulant man-child.  No wonder he and Paul got on so well.
             “Hey Laurent, it’s still kind of early let’s keep the yelling down.” Tom intervened, “Maybe he’s out back at the pool?”  Tom nudged a finger in the direction of the pool gate…  Oh no. “Maybe he’s just not heard us.”
              “Not heard me yelling?” Laurent responded rather logically, “Seems more like he’d be ignoring us.  He’s not been enthusiastic about me visiting, he didn’t answer my call this morning.  This is the only day I can really do it though.”
              Thomas kicked himself, in his haste last night, he realized he had left his cell phone in the bathroom!  Oh and Thomas did feel so bad about that.  He wanted to see his friend, he really did, but now was just a shitty time.
              “Thomas isn’t like that.  Guy is…”  They both laughed, “But, just in case, I know Thomas never locks that patio door, so we can check if he’s fallen asleep by his pool already.”
              “Save him from grievous sunburn, as it were.” Laurent agreed, skittering off for the gate immediately.
              Oh, god dammit!  Thomas internally screeched to himself.  He didn’t have time to contemplate how his whole blissful morning had been ruined, he couldn’t take the time he wanted to really sit down and have the romantic conversation with Guy about wanting to take their relationship past where it had always comfortably sat for too long.  All of that had to be forgotten and damage-control had to be initiated now.  He bolted through the rest of the house, his foyer rug nearly tripping him again--as it did dozens of times a week it seemed--until he got to the back door.  He flung it open, hearing Tom and Laurent fighting with the latch.  Never before in his life had Thomas been grateful for his negligence in oiling the damn thing.  Without being able to make too much noise, Thomas lept into the pool.  Instantly, the splash of water and disruption of the smoothness of the pool garnered Guy’s attention, he swimming up to the surface.
             “What’s going on?” He yawned, “Early for a--” his comment was cut short as he heard the commotion behind the gate lock.  He flinched, almost darting back to the bottom of the pool for cover.  Truthfully, he would have if Thomas hadn’t caught his arm and stopped him.  Fighting to get his arm back to hide, Guy met his eyes with a confused expression.
             “It’s Tom and Laurent.” Thomas huffed, still trying to keep his voice down.
             “Fuck, Thomas seriously needs to fix this thing.” Laurent grumped from behind the high, wood fence, “Can we just go over it?”
             “Doesn’t that seem very suspicious?” Tom supposed.  “Look, just pull the thing closed all the way again and try again.”
             “Why didn’t you just fucking lock that thing!?” Guy hissed, trying to thrash away.
             “Thomas?  Guy?” Laurent called, still shaking the metal latch of the pool gate. “I know I heard you over there!”
              “Guy, I-I j-just want to say that-that, no matter what happens, I’ll be here with you, as always.”  It wasn’t the grand, domestic overture he wanted it to be, but it sufficed.  It had to, there was nothing else they could afford right now and Thomas desperately needed Guy to understand that through this shitstorm, he would support and protect him.  In the heat of the moment, both men’s eyes locked, realizing the secret was about to be out.  Both secrets to each other and to their friends and, with charged bodies, they kissed.  Their lips melded perfectly and Guy felt small and insubstantial in his arms.  It was perfect for a second…
              Then the screaming happened.
              The sudden screech Guy let out almost caused Thomas to jolt back from him.  As it was a shriek of pain, completely unlike the unbridled, passionate cries of the previous night, Thomas’s greater need to protect Guy won out.  Blood bloomed in the water, red clouds floating around the two as Guy kept screaming.  Blood was choking him as he screamed, he coughed, spitting the sharp spikes of his teeth into the pool.
              At the right time, Tom and Laurent entered the pool area.  Thomas couldn’t even be mad that Laurent had just completely lost all patience and kicked the damn thing open, splintering the board the latch was attached to.  The panic was just as clear in Tom’s eyes as it was in Laurent’s.
               “What’s wrong?!” Laurent shouted, rushing over to the pool.  Both he and Tom knelt to reach their arms out for Guy as Thomas stuttered, trying to decide what to do!  What could he do?!  Was Guy dying and bleeding out in the water or would he die faster on land?!  He felt like crying, and screaming at everything he didn’t understand, but Laurent barked at him again in his maelstrom of indecision, “Don’t just flounder around!  Give him here!”
             Thomas, still was torn, he wanted to protect Guy, but what was worse here?!  Guy was clinging to Thomas, shrieking so loud it made Thomas’s ears ring.  Laurent and Tom were both sheet white as they reached for him.  When Guy’s body went silent, limp in Thomas’s arms, he made his decision.  Dragging Guy closer to the edge of the pool, he passed the man into Tom and Laurent’s waiting hands.
              “Fuck, he’s so skinny!” Laurent exclaimed, pulling the bony man out of the cloudy, browning water.  Thomas rushed to explain as the two men pulled him out past his waist, but Thomas’s words died on his lips--Guy had legs!  He also was, as Laurent had said, unhealthily skinny!  His hips and ribs poked out under his pale skin and Thomas felt tears move to his eyes.  “What the fuck was he doing in the pool!?” Laurent angrily berated, pulling Guy against his fine button-up.  The blood on Guy’s body stained the delicate fabric, but he didn’t care.  There was accusation in his eyes…  He thought that Thomas would do this to him?!  Intentionally!
              “Where’s the blood coming from?” Tom examined Guy’s body, finding no source.
              “Why is he naked?” Laurent added, Thomas having finally pulled himself from the water to try to take Guy from his friend.  Laurent tightened his hold around Guy’s limp form, “What were you two doing?”
             Thomas was flabbergasted at the very idea that Guy needed to be protected from him!  He spluttered and reached for Guy again, Laurent not moving away this time as he put his hands on his friend’s insubstantial shoulders, “Laurent, can we focus on getting him inside?” he pleaded, lifting Guy out of his grasp and into his arms.  He felt so light, Thomas hadn’t ever seen Guy look sicker.  His sudden transformation back to human anatomy was obviously the cause for all the blood and the pain and his current state, but…  But what had caused the change?  And why all of it at once?  Had Thomas really caused this?  His internal turmoil was evident on his face as Laurent stood.
              “Fine,” Laurent helped Tom to his feet and gave Thomas a pointed look before turning to go into the house.  Both of the visiting men rushed into the open door ahead of Thomas, gathering towels and blankets to wrap him in.
               “Darling,” Thomas murmured as their friends searched.  “What happened?” he wondered aloud.  he shifted Guy in his arms, putting a hand over his open mouth.  Guy was breathing all right and didn’t seem near death, but Thomas still worried.  He needed to call Paul, or Guy’s mom, only they would know, because Guy certainly couldn’t.
              Tom and Laurent returned swiftly after that, throwing the towels at the man in Thomas’s arms, wiping him down.  Beneath the blood and water, puffy scars were still evident.  The slits of where Guy’s gills had been were on his back, the skin of his hips and legs had a redness to them of the fresh skin that grows beneath the bubble of a blister.  The men wiped around Guy’s mouth as blood from his gums leaked out, finding his dull, flat teeth coated as if he had bit his tongue in half, but there appeared to be no damage…
              “You have a lot of explaining to do.” Laurent spit as he twisted Guy’s ridiculously long hair dry.  None of it stuck to him, no evidence whatsoever of the other half of Guy’s heritage remained beyond the new skin. “What’s wrong with him?”
              “His doctor doesn’t know.  We’ve been calling him here and-and-and--”
              “You’re a shitty liar.”
              “Laurent, calm down.” Tom placed a hand on Laurent’s chest, pushing him back, “We both know damn well that Thomas would never do anything--”
              “Why are you lying, Thomas?!” Laurent interrogated past the voice of reason, trying to take Guy from him with a blanket to wrap him in.
              “Because I’m scared!” Thomas finally defended, “Because I have no idea what’s wrong with him!” tears trailed down his face, he passed Guy to Laurent and took his glasses off, holding a hand over his eyes.  “This whole week… I’ve been caring for him, trying to help him get better!  Now this has happened!”  Still he cried only barely controlling his need to sob.
              “Hey, man, it’s okay.” Tom stepped over to pat Thomas’s back as Laurent silently wrapped up Guy and put him down on the nearby couch.  “We should just get him to a hospital--”
              “No!  You can’t!” Thomas pushed Tom’s hand away, reaching up with a still wet arm to wipe his face, “Guy hasn’t let me all week, I don’t want to go against his wishes now!”
              His teeth gritted at first, Laurent reinserted himself, “His wishes are going to ensure that he dies, Thomas!  Look at him!” the wild man gestured to their unconscious friend.  “Even when he was that skinny, weird-ass fucking kid no one wanted to be near he didn’t look this bad!”
             Just as Thomas’s resolve dwindled and taking Guy to a hospital really did seem to be the best option, Guy shifted on the couch.  The other three went silent and Guy coughed, squinting up at them as if he had just awoken from a long nap, “What the fuck is up with your yelling?” He slurred in French, his voice grainy.
             “How are you feeling?” Laurent rushed over, “I can get you to a hospital if--”
             “No, Laurie, stop.” Guy raised a hand and slapped his shoulder a few times, “I’m fine.  I’m…” He took a deep breath, snuggling further down into the soft, warm blankets on his back on the couch, “This is the best I’ve felt in months.” he explained, “Just sleepy… And…” He shifted again, Thomas practically able to hear his tendons and joints creaking, “Sore.”
              “Best you’ve felt?” Tom jumped on that, “You were just screaming and bleeding out into the pool earlier…?”
             Guy looked to Tom and then to Laurent and then to Thomas.  He waited for Thomas to step nearer, his smile shining and eyes gleaming from behind his glasses.  The man snuggled more into the blankets, his eyes fluttering closed, “I can’t tell you why.” He started, sounding so comfortable and sleepy, “But you’re going to have to accept that that’s just something that happens with me.  I’m fine, it used to happen a lot more when I was a kid.  Never had to go to the hospital, it’s fine.”
             “What?” Laurent was disbelieving to sound the least.  “What makes it happen…?”
              “Genetic thing.” Guy murmured,  “Thomas did a great job,” he fell back asleep, dry and warm for the first time in too long.  Two of his friends looked on in curiosity, the other in complete adoration.
             “S-So, while he rests, would you like s-some coffee?” Thomas grinned.
             Both Tom and Laurent stared at him for a few seconds before Laurent answered with a shrug, “Sure, why not, you make good coffee, Bangalter.”  Thank the lord for friends that know when to just go with it.

Chapter Text

             The days and weeks that followed the terrifying events in the backyard were placid in comparison to the past week.  Guy and Thomas did not discuss the matter of Guy being a merman for some time, instead, they focused on getting Guy back to a healthy weight.  Tom and Laurent did not question what they had seen in the pool either, Thomas knew, however, that Laurent was going to ask Paul.  If  Thomas knew Paul and Laurent’s friendship well-enough, he knew that Laurent was going to be told.  Laurent was a loud-mouthed man-child at times, but he was loyal, Thomas was confident that Laurent would not bring any problems to the situation.
             Guy ate ravenously, much like he had during the days before his transition.  Instead of his sharky comfort foods, however, he devoured everything sweet in the house.  He tore through the bread as quickly as Thomas could buy it, jellies, chocolates and caramels disappeared as if they had never existed in the first place.  There was constantly coffee being brewed and Guy savored bites of fruits and vegetables as if they were precious.  Thomas still had pounds upon pounds of fish in the fridge, but Guy retched at the very sight of most of it.
             “Am I supposed to eat all of this now?” Thomas whined when Guy refused anything that came close to being from the ocean.
             “It’s good for you.  Feed that massive brain of yours.”
             “I can’t eat all of this by myself!”
             “Too bad mon Grand .” Guy sniggered, taking another bite out of an apple and almost moaning at the flavor.
             Thomas smiled at Guy’s stubborn, yet endearing attitude and blushed at the nickname, “Fine, Darling.”
             Guy turned his head to look at him, he was smirking behind his half-eaten green apple.  They held each other in eye-contact for a few seconds, both beginning to chuckle.  Guy’s laugh was more of a shy giggle and Thomas’s was in the “I’ve just asked you to go to prom with me” area.
             “Or should I call you ‘ ma Petite Sirène ?’” He teased with a big grin.
              Guy snorted, “Only if you want me to punch you.”
             “You’re so cold, I think it’s cute.”
             “You’re the one dating a shark.” Guy took another bite, his expression of stubborn discontent softening.
             “He’s the cutest shark I’ve ever seen.” Thomas stepped away from the kitchen island to put his hands on Guy’s shoulders.  His lover was sitting down at the table as he ate his apple, discarded plates that had previously held many of his favorite foods littering the table’s surface.  Slowly, he rolled his thumbs into the muscles of Guy’s shoulders and back, he had regained a lot of his muscle-mass very quickly.  While Guy had not been downing red meat and poultry with the same gusto as he had sweets and plants, he, nonetheless, had a healthy appetite for terrestrial mammals.
               “Mmm,” Guy leaned into the light massage, sitting the apple down, “do you want to talk now?”
              “A little…”  Thomas admitted.
             “Shoot.”
             “How likely is it that that sort of thing will happen again?”
             “I don’t know…  It all depends upon how stressed I get in the coming years.  Does that…  Uncertainty annoy you?”  Guy reached one of his large hands up to lay it over the fingers of one of Thomas’s.
             “No, I just want to know how prepared I should be.  I’m keeping the pool saltwater regardless, it’s better for the environment.”  He’d just need to readjust the salination levels, the unit worked so hard in the days that Guy had been in the pool to bring the water as close as possible to ocean levels.  Needless to say, the thing needed a break.
             “It’s been many, many years since the last time.” Guy shrugged, playing with Thomas’s long fingers, “It might be just as long before the next time it happens.”
             “Okay.”  Thomas removed his free hand from Guy’s shoulder to twine a lock of hair around a finger.  One of the first things that Guy had done after being able to walk on his own again was go cut his hair.  It was still long and darker than it used to be, but Guy’s lighter roots were already coming in.  The darker stuff was, nonetheless, coarser than his normal hair, but Thomas had grown used to it, especially now that it wasn’t horrendously sticky.
             “Even then, when I get symptoms, I know you won’t freak out about it now…  It’s a big relief.”
             “If you ever need anything, you can always talk to me.” Thomas smiled, leaning down to put his face in the softer roots of Guy’s hair.  He kissed the crown of his skull and heard Guy giggle.  “I love you.”
             Guy swallowed, “I love you too.” He turned to look at the hand still on his shoulder, cocking his head so he could kiss the many fingers.  With the action, he felt Thomas stand up straight and walk around to his side.  He tipped his chin up to look at him, Thomas smiling from behind his dorky glasses.  Guy drew in a quick breath when Thomas bent to kiss him, he raised a hand to stroke one of his rough cheeks, letting out a soft “Mmm.”
             “How are you feeling today?” Thomas muttered, breaking their kiss to rest their foreheads together.
             “Good.  Very good.” Guy answered with undisguised excitement.
             “I went to the store the other day.”
             “ Did you, now?” Guy mumbled, brushing their lips back together, “Look at my Thomas, taking the initiative.”
             “Hey,” Thomas kissed him again, a short, sweet one, “you might be more vocal about it, but there are things I’ve been wanting to do since we were teenagers.”
             “Oh no, am I to contend with the fantasies of eighteen-year-old you?” The elder of the two chuckled.
             “Are the fantasies of me now any less ridiculous?” Thomas laughed, putting their lips back together in a longer, more heated kiss.
             “That depends,” Guy gasped as Thomas moved to nibble on his neck, “what are your fantasies these days?”
             Thomas dragged his lips and tongue back up Guy’s neck to nestle them against his ear, which, Thomas only just now noticed, came to a discernible point, “I want to make love to you until you scream, my Darling.”
             “You’re easy to please.” Guy raised a hand to wrap his arm up around Thomas’s back and shoulders, shivering with Thomas’s voice and physical contact.
             “You always were a screamer.”
             “What’s the point in hiding unbridled joy, love?”
             Thomas kissed him again, both men moaning as Guy pushed him back to stand up.  All the same, he was loathe to part their lips.  He kept a firm hold on the collar of Thomas’s shirt, ensuring that he couldn’t stand up straight to get away from him.  The man’s tongue flicked out over Thomas’s lips, the taller of the two gladly opening up his mouth to let Guy inside.
             “Are we going to make it to the bedroom?”
             “Why wait when I can have my prey right here?” Guy playfully giggled, going to nip at Thomas’s jaw.
             “Am I your mate, then?  Sharkboy?”
             Both of them laughed, Guy pressing a few more kisses to Thomas’s cheek, “If you’re going to keep calling me your ‘little mermaid,’ I should call you my ‘Prince’ instead.”
             They both laughed again, stumbling out of the kitchen into the foyer.
             “My Prince Thomas.” Guy crooned, sappily sweet in a voice that flowed through Thomas like electricity.
             “Are you sure you don’t still have your siren voice like this?  Because you--”  Right on time, Thomas tripped on the rug, falling to the floor and bringing Guy with him.
             They both lost it, their hot, heavy moment ruined by Thomas’s clumsiness and that damned rug.  Guy sat on top of Thomas’s hips, laughing harder than he had in a long time as Thomas tried to regain some of his composure.
             “I need to get some of those sticky rug pads.” Thomas commented as his spasms of merriment stopped.
             “You know what we also need to do?” Guy started to remind, “Give Tom that album.”
             “Oh, right…  Yeah…  Then get ready for all the interviews…”
             “Can we…  Not?”
             “But…  Publicity is important or no one will buy it.” Thomas reasoned.
             “I want to just spend time with you… For awhile…  And not be all ‘I’m gonna eat ya.’”
             Something told Thomas that maybe they should’ve at least planned to do a little publicity…  But, he understood Guy’s desires as well, “Okay, I can give you that.” He reached up to put his hands on Guy’s hips, running them up and down his sides.  “I think we need to give it a name first.”
             Guy hummed, deep in thought as he pursed his lips and pulled his eyebrows together.
             “Hm, I got it.” Thomas smiled, lifting a hand up to Guy’s cheek to caress the soft, unscaled skin.
             “What’s that?” Guy leaned his face into the warm touch.
             “Human After All?”
             Guy closed his eyes, sighing with a smile.  He turned his lips into the palm with a kiss, it was the only answer Thomas needed.