FISH TALES 1 -- SLEEP WITH THE FISHES
Pairings: Not really applicable, unless you want the fish info
Disclaimer: Don't own GW or the guys... But the fish are all ours!
[It’s NOT a usual afternoon at Mel and Christy’s house. The onnas are out shopping, you see, so things are quiet. Most of the resident bishounen are taking advantage of the break to do things they can’t do when the onnas are home -- read without interruption, work out shirtless without hearing sudden drooling noises and getting groped, things like that -- and Duo is stretched out on the futon couch in the writing room, the one with all the fish tanks and the TV.]
DUO: I can see why they always write on this couch -- it’s a lot more comfortable than the one they let us use! *yawn* Very comfortable... and they’re not due back for a few more hours...
[The quiet purring of the tank filters lulls him to sleep. And he dreams...]
Duo found himself floating above the sofa, looking down at his own peacefully sleeping face.
*Whoa! Is this another of those weird symbolic things that are supposed to reveal a lot of bullshit about your own psyche?* he wondered, glancing hastily around for floating statues, drop-in gods, phallic symbols, and/or penguins. Penguins always seemed to be involved for some reason, but a quick inspection of the room revealed only Mel’s squeaky toy penguin on the bookshelf; Duo eyed it suspiciously for a long moment, but it didn’t seem to be doing anything abnormal. *All right, maybe this is just an ordinary dream. Either that or I really am having an out-of-body experience, but what are the odds of that?*
*...Scratch that. Considering where I am and the sorts of people who keep turning up, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before.*
“Oh, guys, look! We got neighbours again! Cool!”
The small, squeaky voice wasn’t one he’d ever heard before, and Duo spun around-- then blinked in surprise. Nobody was there.
“What are you getting so excited about?” a dull, bored voice replied. “They’re only guppies.”
“But they’re still fish, right?” the first voice objected. “We can still be friends, right?”
*...Fish?!* Drifting closer to the two medium-sized fish tanks in that corner, Duo peered in and saw the small black goldfish that Christy had named Deathscythe (over his protests). It was almost dancing in the water, wriggling excitedly against the glass, peering in at the three small guppies Mel had shifted to the tank next door that morning.
“Don't bother,” the bored voice said, coming from one of the little squashed-looking bristlenose catfish -- Nataku or Shenlong, Duo couldn’t tell which. “They’re just going to die. Guppies always die.”
“But we can be friends until that happens, right, Nataku?” Deathscythe said eagerly, twisting around to eye the catfish with one googly eye and the guppies with the other.
“Oh, yeah,” the sleek sucking catfish said, drifting up menacingly. “Let’s be friends. I wonder if Mel and Christy would move me into that tank for a while? I’d love to be friends...”
“They’re too fast for you to catch, Sandrock,” Wing Zero snickered. “Even Rashid is too fast for you, sucker.”
“Not once they start dying, they won’t be.”
“Will you stop that?” the female guppy snapped, sounding amazingly like Relena. “We are not going to die!”
“Oh, no offence meant,” Nataku drawled. “It won’t be your fault. It’s just that this house is Guppy Doomsville. Other fish have a good chance of surviving, but guppies? Nope.”
“Look over there,” Shenlong nodded, flicking a fin barb towards one of the tanks on the other side of the room. “Used to be a dozen guppies in there. Then they got hookworm from the snail in their tank, and whammo... there’s one left now, and she’s probably gonna die.”
“Mel and Christy did try to cure them,” Deathscythe assured the horrified guppy earnestly. “They do take good care of us -- see?” He flipped his tail around and exhibited it proudly. “I had fungus, but they fixed me! It’s just that the medication didn’t work on the guppies for some reason. Even the pet shop owner doesn’t know why.”
“And then there’s that lot,” Shenlong went on in a gloomy voice, apparently relishing the tale of guppy woe as he indicated another tank. “Brand new. Suddenly started acting ill. Turns out the tank has a nitrite problem.”
“Christy’s been dosing them with all the proper stuff too,” Jessica said, swimming over to join the conversation. “It, um, seemed to be working...”
A deeper voice came from next to the tank in question, where a pinkish-white Siamese fighting fish with orange speckles was swimming in a jar. “They kicked me out of that tank when they moved the guppies in,” he grumbled, flicking his tail contemptuously. “Hmph. I didn’t have a problem in there. The nitrites even gave the water a nice piquant taste.”
“Yeah, well you’re a betta, Hades,” Wing Zero snapped. “You don’t even need to use your gills to breathe if you don’t want to, so you guys can survive just about anything.”
“Except having kids,” Nataku muttered quietly.
“I heard that!” Hades yelled angrily. “Is it my fault the heater went screwy and half-boiled the breeding tank?! I had a better bubblenest than that Butch jerk!”
“He does have a point, Nataku,” Shenlong said judiciously. “Even bettas can’t live in dilute egg soup for long.”
“Get over here and I’ll rip your fins off!”
“And who are you calling a jerk?!” came from the large red betta across the room.
Duo’s head was spinning. *The fish... are arguing. Do they do this all the time?!*
“I believe he was calling you a jerk, Butch,” a large white goldfish said from his tank. “Jerk.”
“Oi!” A chorus of tiny voices piped up indignantly from the cardinal and neon tetras sharing Butch’s tank. “No calling our Emperor Butch a jerk!”
“Yeah, long live Emperor Butch, he who lets us eat his food!”
“Oh, shut up, you bunch of crawlers,” the small bristlenose catfish at the bottom of that tank said. “He does not let you eat his food, he just can’t catch it all before you get to it!”
“Yeah! Shut up, or we’ll divebomb -- uh -- divebite you!”
“Leave Sergei alone,” Butch ordered the bright-coloured little fish. “Unlike you brainless morons, he doesn’t swim around talking all the time!”
“Gotcha, Butch!” “Yessir!” “Ave betta!” “We’ll shut up!” “Jawohl, mein fish-er!” “Silent as a rock, that’s us!” “Not a peep out of--“
The silence after Butch’s explosion was broken only by a quiet snicker from Sergei, and an “Ave!” from a neon tetra with even fewer brain cells than normal.
“Oh, thank god, Butch, you even made the babies finally shut up,” sighed the female guppy who’d been pointed out as having hookworm. “They’ve been chirping about food and games and who knows what all day, and I haven’t had a moment’s rest!”
Bemused, Duo noted that yes, the twenty or so baby guppies in the tank behind hers were all huddled behind the filter, peering out at Butch with big scared eyes.
*...This is way cool,* he decided. *Trippy as hell, but way cool.*
Back in his tank, Deathscythe made a throat-clearing noise. (*Gill-clearing?* Duo wondered.) “Sorry about that,” he said kindly to the female guppy. “I guess I should let you know who’s who, right? That way, we can all be friends, and until you guys die--“
“Look, I’ve already been in this house for a whole month, if you hadn’t noticed,” the Relena-voiced guppy snapped. “Those are my babies. Then I got put in a little plastic box stuck to the side of that big tank over there, and the humans bought me a couple of hormonal teenagers as potential mates. Do you have any idea what it’s like, living in confined quarters with morons who are only interested in sex, with scary carnivorous fish four times your size trying to find a way into your box to eat you? If that didn’t kill me, nothing will!”
“She has a point,” Heavyarms said quietly.
“Hey! We are not scary!” called one of the fish from the biggest tank, a large-ish tiger barb. “Well, okay, Mrs Butch is scary, but the rest of us aren’t!”
“Slinky is scary,” one of the other barbs reminded him.
“Ooh, yeah,” he muttered. “Okay, Slinky and Mrs Butch are scary, but that’s all.”
“We think you’re scary,” one of the tiny cherry barbs insisted.
“And I don’t see why you’re afraid of me!” something complained, hidden in a tangle of weeds. “All I want is for you to stop mistaking my tail for your lunch!”
“Well, it’s unsettling when you get a grip on an enormous juicy-looking worm and then it turns around and comes at you with a huge mouth and teeth and everything,” the tiger barb whined.
“I am not a worm! I am an eel! And I don’t even have teeth-- oh, never mind,” Slinky muttered, sinking deeper into his weeds.
“We find it vastly amusing that you big bullies are afraid of a female betta and a spiny eel who only wants to eat mosquito larvae,” a fish with trailing black fins and stripes sniggered.
“They should be afraid of me,” Mrs Butch said smugly, cruising past and watching the barbs scatter.
A small male guppy, spotted in neon orange and black, swam up to the tank wall next to the Relena-guppy and gaped admiringly at Deathscythe. “Wow! You’re big! But you’re not very colourful. I have a better tail than you. That means I get to have sex!”
“Not now you don’t!” Relena-guppy yelped, dodging his sudden amorous rush. “I’m already pregnant again, damn you! ...God, I hope you didn’t father too many of my eggs -- not that the other one is much better...”
“Oh. Okay. Later.” And the male guppy was back looking at Deathscythe. “Let’s be friends! --er, so long as we’ve established that I have a better tail so you don’t get the girl, right?”
“Dude, she’s not my species,” Deathscythe laughed. “I’m a black moor goldfish and she’s a guppy; it just wouldn’t work.”
“And my tail’s better!”
“Yeah, okay, your tail is better,” Deathscythe muttered, rolling his googly eyes. “By guppy standards. Get over it.”
“Yay! Let’s be friends until I die! When’s that going to happen?”
“Really soon,” Wing Zero snickered, watching as the Relena-guppy positively quivered with rage. “If the guppy curse on this house doesn’t get you, she will!”
[The front door slams, and Duo jerks awake, falling off the futon onto the floor.]
DUO: Whoa. That was surreal.
CHRISTY: Honeys, we’re ho~ome!
MEL: Didja miss us?
[Duo looks up at the tanks. Nobody seems to be talking... but the goldfish are watching the female guppy chase one of her mates around the tank, the tiger barbs are swimming away from the female betta with indecent haste, and the school of little bright tetras is following Butch around his tank like lapdogs.]
DUO: Nah. Just a dream. That’s all... probably.
MEL: Uh, could you move a bit, Duo? I need to walk there.
DUO: Oh, uh, right! No problem! Did you guys have fun?
CHRISTY: Yep! Bought some more water plants and a few fish--
DUO (unthinkingly): I hope they’re not more guppies.
[Mel and Christy look at him, blinking.]
MEL: ...Nooooo... why?
DUO: Er... I don’t think they’d do well. Just a hunch.
MEL: Well, they’re some more feeder goldfish so we can see what colours they turn. Tough as nails.
CHRISTY: And we bought some black worms to feed the barbs with, they love those!
DUO: Oh, no, poor Slinky! They’ll get all confused and go for his tail again!
[There’s a long pause. Mel and Christy look at each other, then Duo.]
MEL: Duo honey... are you feeling all right?
DUO: Um. Well. Now that you mention it, I think I could use some more sleep. In my room. Away from here. Somewhere there are no fish.
[He starts to leave, then looks back.]
DUO: Oh, just so you know -- I don’t mind that Deathscythe is a googly-eyed fish any more, but I don’t think you named him quite right. I mean, ‘Scythe is way more cool and collected than that. Something like ‘Chibi Duo’ would be better.
[He walks out, muttering something about ‘checking his food for drugs’. The onnas look at each other, clutching bags of water and fishies.]
MEL: ...Do you know what that was about?
CHRISTY: Not the faintest idea.
“Oh, COOL! More new neighbours!
On to Fish Tales 2 - Quatre's Experience
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