A Fishy Affair
"He is ready, Doctor."
An elder man with white hair that reached his shoulders nodded in acknowledgment but didn't turn away from his charge. "So, the time has come for you, Zero One."
His charge just looked at him silently.
"This mission will make you a hero, should you manage to accomplish it." The elder man knelt down and rested his hand on his charge's head. "Do as we have practiced and return here immediately." He extended a gray ball of steel as large as his fist to his charge.
It was snatched carefully and disappeared behind rows of sharp teeth.
"I believe in you, Zero One." The Doctor paused as a notion came into him. He looked down at his charge. "Zero one will not be a good reflection for a hero's name, will it?"
The doctor got a headbutt as an answer. He smiled and patted his charge's head. "You are like my grandson, always coming to me with his head first. I don't know why, but my son in law, Japanese he was, named him Heero."
That got him a squeak.
The doctor chuckled. "You like that name? Heero?"
More squeaks came from his charge.
"Very well, you are Heero from now on."
"Doctor, we don't have much time...."
The doctor made a slashing motion, shutting up the young assistant. He kept his attention to his charge, looking straight to those eyes which reflected the blue water around him. "Go now, Heero." He tapped his charge's head twice before standing up.
The newly christened Heero made another squeak before turning around and headed into the ocean.
The doctor watched his charge glided through the waters until the grayish-blue back disappeared into the water. He then turned around and nodded to his assistant.
"The dolphin has departed," the assistant announced through the base.
Heero liked it when he was out of the base. Vast ocean, chirping birds, and abundant food. He made a high jump above the water and splashed down with satisfaction. He was free to swim as far and fast as he could without having to worry about smacking into the glass wall. He could go anywhere and do whatever he wanted. If only his caretaker would let him go....
Thinking about his caretaker reminded him of his mission. He could feel the cold ball inside his mouth. Having seen what this tiny ball could do, Heero was determined to do his mission quickly. He gave an extra push with his tail and headed toward his target at maximum speed.
The top of his target appeared in his vision. He slowed his speed and sent his pulses out. The feedback told him that there were dangerous spiky balls floating around. Having been trained to avoid these spiky balls, Heero easily swam around them and approached the target. When he was within attacking distance of the target, Heero went to the surface and took a deep breath. He then sunk into the water as deep as he could and blew the ball out of his mouth.
While the ball flew toward the target, Heero hightailed back into safe distance. He successfully avoided the spiky things and put a burst into his speed.
Behind him, the gray ball he blew touched the target wall. There was a beeping noise and then...
When the ocean's ripples had subsided and the water was clear again, there was nothing left of his target but blackened ruins.
Heero watched his work with satisfaction. Mission accomplished. After a few minutes staring, he turned around, intending to head back to the base.
"Hey, wait up!" Came a loud squeak from his left.
Heero turned to the left quickly and sent out some pulses. The echo told him that something as big as him was approaching fast. A few seconds later, a dolphin stopped in front of him.
Heero frowned. It was a dolphin all right, from the same kind as he was, but he'd never seen his kind in this color before. The dolphin before him was as black as the night sky. There was no different color on any part of him. It was all black all over his body.
"Are you the one who destroyed that base?" the black dolphin gestured at the blackened base with his flipper.
"Who are you?" Heero squeaked back.
"Ah sorry, my name is Duo." The dolphin squeaked and made a flip in introduction. "Did you really destroy that base?"
Heero just snapped his jaws in answer.
"Not a talker, eh?" Duo whistled. "You are great! I watched you from afar, you know. I almost couldn't believe my eyes when that base exploded."
Heero snapped his jaws again and resumed his swimming. It was a waste of time to listen to this talkative dolphin.
"Hey wait! Where are you going?" Duo swam after him. "You haven't told me your name!"
Not wanting to answer, Heero kept swimming.
"Hey, it's not polite to leave in the middle of conversation," Duo squeaked as he swam next to him.
Scowling, Heero swung his tail harder. It gave him the burst of speed he needed to leave the noisy dolphin.
"Hey!" Duo squeaked loudly.
"I'll tell you if you can catch me," Heero squeaked back.
"You are on!"
Heero smirked inwardly as he used his full power to speed up his swimming. There was no way the noisy dolphin could out swim him. He had been trained by his caretaker since he was but a mere calf.
That noisy dolphin would be left to eat his bubbles!
Sixty one turns, thirty four breath intakes, and twenty air flips later found Heero resting in shallow water near his homebase. He was out of breath. It felt like every bone in his body had turned into jellyfish. He was also in a strange mood. It was a mixed of exhilaration and frustration. He felt elated at finding a worthy rival to race through the ocean, but he was also frustrated because.....
"So.... What's your name?" Duo squeaked happily from next to him.
That damn dolphin was only a little breathless after such rigorous chase!
Heero kept his silence stubbornly.
"Hey, " Duo head-butted him.
Heero squeaked angrily and waved his flipper to smack at the irritating dolphin.
Duo evaded the flipper easily. "Now now, you wouldn't go back on your word, would you?"
Heero made another attempt to smack Duo, which failed of course, before squeaking his name sullenly. "Heero."
"Nice to meet you, Heero!" Duo squeaked happily and rubbed his body along Heero's.
At the touch, Heero squeaked in surprised. "What are you doing?"
"Greeting you, " The black dolphin squeaked as he continued the rubbing.
If he'd had any energy left, Heero would have smacked the uncouth dolphin with his tail. As it was, Heero just suffered the rubbing silently. It didn't feel nice. Not at all. Really!
Unfortunately his silence was taken as consent by the black dolphin. Duo made a happy squeak and started mouthing Heero's flank gently.
Heero yelped and wiggled away. "Stop that!"
"You feel nice, " Duo whistled fondly and swam closer to Heero, mouth open wide to start mouthing again.
Using what little energy he had regained during his short rest, Heero flipped his tail and brought it down on Duo's head. He listened with satisfaction as the black dolphin yelped and tossed around.
"You are really rude!" Duo squeaked and head-butted Heero.
"Stop bothering me!" Heero snapped his jaws.
"I didn't bother you!" Duo squeaked, affronted.
Heero blew the water through his blow hole loudly in irritation and decided not to response to the stupid dolphin anymore. He snapped his jaws in warning then swam away, choosing another spot to rest.
Of course, it didn't work as he wanted. The black dolphin followed him and started rubbing and mouthing him again.
"Will you stop it?!" Heero squeaked angrily.
"No," Duo squeaked happily and mouthed the part near Heero's ear. "You feel good, Heero."
Heero ground his teeth in response. It didn't feel good. Not at all!
"Will you bear my baby, Heero?" Duo cooed over him.
That was the last straw. Heero might be slower than the crazy dolphin but he had been trained how to fight dirty by his caretaker. He smacked his tail on Duo's head, turned around quickly and head-butted the black dolphin with all his might.
Then Heero turned around, tail smacking Duo once again, and swam straight away from the stunned dolphin.
"Hey, don't leave me!"
Heero ignored the squeaks behind him. "I'm a male, baka!"
"Zero One has returned, Doctor!"
"He is called Heero now, " The doctor corrected as he approached the pool where his charge was. He stopped a few feet from the pool as he noticed a black shape near his charge. "What the hell is that?"
His assistant looked a little amused if not excited. "That is a black dolphin as far as I know. She followed Zero err... Heero to the entrance tunnel and straight into the pool."
The doctor raised an eyebrow as he walked to the edge of the pool. "She?"
The assistant flushed slightly. "The black dolphin looked.... enamored with Heero, so I thought it must be...."
"Say no more, " The doctor said in amusement while he watched his charge nuzzled eagerly by the black dolphin. When Heero stopped at the edge of the pool, the doctor knelt down and patted Heero's head. "The news has told me of your success, Heero. Good job." He threw several fish he had brought to reward his charge. Heero eagerly caught them as did the black dolphin.
"This is the first time I've seen a black dolphin, Doctor. Do you know what kind of species she is?" asked the assistant.
"I don't know. I think we must have ourselves a new species here," the doctor answered. He then watched as the black dolphin snatched a fish from Heero's reward. That got her an angry squeak from Heero. His charge tried to head-butt the black dolphin but she evaded it easily. "It wouldn't hurt to study her further." The doctor threw the last fish he'd brought. "You can rest for a while, Heero. Good luck in taming your mate."
The elder man blinked the water from his eyes. He looked to the side and saw his assistant was in the same water drenched state as he was. He looked down at his charge, water spurting from his blow hole. "I guess you don't like it that we refer her as your mate, huh?"
Heero smacked his tail as if in agreement, sending water everywhere.
"Oh well, let's call her Zero Two until we got a better name for her then."
Heero was in a bad mood. A really bad mood. The worst even. All because of a certain black dolphin which kept stealing his fish. After only a few hours here he'd already figured out how to get more fish.
"This place is great!" Duo squeaked as he jumped out of the water and did a flip in the air. That earned him a shrimp from the human. A BIG one. Which was taken out of Heero's fish bucket!
"Thief!" Heero squeaked angrily and head-butted at the black dolphin. To his dismay, Duo evaded it smoothly and used the moment to rub his body along Heero's. Heero shuddered at the sensation and told himself that it was from repulsion. Not pleasure, not at all.
Duo swam away from him and did another flip in the air. That got him another shrimp, again from Heero's bucket. Heero squeaked loudly and smacked his tail angrily. "I'll kill you!"
Duo's eyes twinkled and he blew something from his mouth into Heero's. Heero instinctively gulped it down. He blinked in surprise. It was the shrimp!
"I caught it for you, Heero," Duo cooed as he nuzzled Heero's head.
Given food like this without having to do a flip certainly drove Heero's anger away. Though still a bit grumpy, he let Duo nuzzle and mouth him.
As long as he kept bringing fish to Heero, of course. Duo didn't seem to mind the arrangement. He fed Heero now and then, enough to make Heero content and not minding Duo's caress'.
After the feeding time was over and Heero's stomach was full, his curiosity got over his silence.
"Why are you so black?" Heero squeaked questioningly.
"It's the way I am," Duo squeaked back, still rubbing along Heero contentedly.
"No dolphin is as black as you," Heero pointed out, trying to sound very knowledgeable. The truth was that he was so out of touch with other dolphins that he would believe it if someone told him there was a pink dolphin around.
"Ah, that's maybe because my father was a false killer whale instead of bottlenose dolphin," Duo explained. "He was black as well and longer than I am."
"Was?" Heero squeaked lowly.
"Was." Duo sounded sad. "My mother said he was killed by a group of sharks while trying to save us."
Heero nuzzled Duo, telling himself that it was to show his condolence to Duo. "Where's your mother, now?"
"Killed by the same sharks." Duo nuzzled back. He tilted down slowly so that they were now belly to belly. His flippers touched Heero's sides as if hugging him.
"I'm sorry, " Heero felt bad for making Duo sad so he let Duo hold him for a while.
"Hmmm.." Duo started rubbing against him, belly against belly.
"Hmm?" Heero felt confused, but just for a second. He grew enraged in the next second as he realized what Duo was trying to do.
"Are you trying to mate with me?!" Heero snapped his jaws angrily. He wriggled away from Duo's hold.
"Of course, you have accepted my courtship after all." Duo swam after him, not feeling one bit guilty or sad.
"What courtship!!??" Heero squeaked.
"I showed you my skills, I fed you, and you let me touch you," Duo explained patiently.
'Those are courtship!??" Heero stopped swimming, scandalized as he realized Duo had been wooing him from the start.
"What else do you think they were?" Duo stopped beside him.
"How should I know?!" Heero squeaked. "I have never interacted with adult dolphins before!"
"You never?" Duo whistled in wonder. "How?"
"I've been raised by my caretaker since I can remember." Heero squeaked the reply. "I played with several calves when I was little, but they died or were moved away from here."
"Sorry about that, " Duo nuzzled him gently. "You must be lonely."
"Am not, " Heero squeaked back quickly. Too quickly.
"No matter, you have me now so you won't feel alone anymore," Duo squeaked confidently. "You did accept my wooing."
"Did not!" denied Heero.
"Heero, If a dolphin lets another dolphin mouth, nuzzle, and do a belly to belly thing, that means he accepts the other dolphin's courtship. They will then mate and make babies." Duo sounded so certain that Heero believed him. That didn't mean he wouldn't fight it though.
"But I'm a male!" Heero squeaked.
"So?" Duo squeaked back.
"I can't bear babies, baka!"
"I don't mind."
Heero didn't have a come back for that. Duo had asked him to bear his baby before, but he had thought that was because Duo didn't know he was a male. He never thought Duo was still interested in him. And being raised by humans, Heero didn't know about the courtship thingie. Now, thanks to his unawareness of social interactions, he'd just got himself hitched with a loud mouthed dolphin.
He was a pervert dolphin too, judging from the way he slithered along Heero's body. Heero let out a loud squeak of annoyance and was about to thwack Duo with his tail when the water around him shook violently.
"Doctor, the enemy has found our base. We have to escape!"
"Wait, let the dolphins out first!"
The doctor ignored his assistant and ran toward the control room. He managed to hit the release button for the pool's entrance before the world shook once more.
Heero could hear Duo's squeaks, but because of the violent tremor of the water, Heero couldn't understand what he was saying. His sight was also hampered because debris was falling from somewhere up there. He then felt Duo's body pushing him toward where he remembered the exit was located.
Heero swam toward the exit as quickly as he could. He went through the exit and was in its tunnel when the water shook violently once more. There was a strong surge coming from the pool into the tunnel. It crashed against Heero and pushed him far from his base.
It took him a few precious minutes to get his bearings. The forced expulsion made him confused about his location and the water around him was disturbed by the shake. All he was certain of at that moment was that he was alone. Duo wasn't anywhere near him. He tried to go back straight away but the water was still pulsating heavily around him, making him lose his direction. There were a few more violent shakes before it started quieting down.
It was much much later when the water and dust had settled down that he managed to find his way back to the base.
Or what used to be the base.
The entrance tunnel had collapsed into rubble. Heero swam around it but ruins were all he could find. He sent his pulses out, squeaked loudly and turned some rocks up. Despite his effort, he didn't find any living being nearby. He couldn't sense Duo anywhere! Heero so didn't like the way he was feeling at the thought of not having Duo near him again.
He squeaked loudly, calling Duo's name over and over but no response came back to him.
For the first time in his life, Heero realized what despair really was.
The doctor stood at the edge of a big boulder which was bordering directly on to the sea. He was looking at what was used to be his lab. It was now only a pile of ruins a few meters from where he was standing. He had been lucky that he'd managed to escape the collapsing base. However, he hadn't escaped unscathed. His right hand was now made of steel and rubber instead of flesh and blood.
The base was the last victim in the meaningless war though. Having suffered massive damage and high death counts, now their nation and the rival nation were in the process of negotiating peace. While he was happy at the turn out, it saddened him to know there were many innocent victims from the war. One of those innocent victims was the dolphin which was swimming near the boulder.
"Heero, you are still here." The doctor knelt down and extended his hand toward the dolphin.
Heero touched his hand with his nose lightly as if his attention wasn't there.
"Are you still looking for her?" The doctor patted the dolphin's head gently. "I have looked into the nearby pools and sea animal related facilities. They have never seen a black dolphin, let alone have one."
Heero just butted at his hand then swam away.
The doctor sighed and straightened. "Here, I brought some delicious bits for you." He opened the cool box he was carrying and took out quite a big fish. He held out the fish and wiggled it a little. "How about showing me some tricks of yours, Heero?"
No response from the dolphin. Not that he expected any after having the same unresponsiveness each time he met the dolphin. The doctor threw the fish toward the dolphin, which caught it and ate it quietly.
"She is probably dead, Heero. Buried beneath the base." Along with many other people, the doctor added silently.
Heero just looked at him, silently asking for more fish. Before, Heero would do a flip in the air to make that demand. Now, the dolphin would not make even a bit of a wriggle. Despite the lack of tricks, the doctor threw another fish toward the dolphin. He fed Heero until there was no fish left in the cool box.
"You're free now, Heero," the doctor addressed the dolphin. "Go out into the deep ocean, north of here. There should be many of your kind there. You will also find a new mate there."
That was the tenth time he'd said the words. He doubted Heero understood him. And even if Heero had understood the meaning, the doctor had a strong feeling that the dolphin would not leave here. The Doctor sighed, heart heavy. "You have been written into our history as a dolphin soldier, Heero. I prefer you to not add another record in the history where, despite dolphins being promiscuous animals, you have apparently mated for life with the black dolphin."
Heero swallowed the last fish his caretaker had given him. It had been twenty one suns and twenty moons since Duo had gone. He had lost count how many times he'd circled the ruins, called out for Duo, and turned over any rocks that could be turned over.
He knew he couldn't stay here forever, especially when winter came. However, he had no interest nor the will to move out and search for a better living place. His instinct told him to find a pod he could join, but something held him here. Something made him stay around the ruins and keep searching for the loud mouthed baka. Whether that something was desolation, stubbornness, craziness or hope, Heero had no idea. For all he knew, it was probably a mix of all of them.
Meal taken cared of, Heero swam away from his caretaker. He was going to check the ruins again. There might be some stones that hadn't been turned over. Or maybe Duo was injured and couldn't swim somewhere. They were ridiculous excuses but they kept Heero going.
He sank deeper into the sea and sent his pulses out. The echo came back unhelpful as usual. But, no, wait, the last echo sounded a little different. Heero frowned and sent out more pulses. This time the echo came back describing something that looked like a dolphin was approaching him.
It could be an enemy, but it could also be ... Heero's heart thudded faster. Hope tasted like a big shrimp Duo had given to him. He swam toward the approaching shadow and emitted more pulses. The echo came back with clearer picture. It was a dolphin, as big as he was.
The distance between him and the other dolphin was getting closer. His eyes could now see the color of the approaching dolphin.
Black! The dolphin was black! There was a white scar under the dolphin's flipper but other than that.....
"Duo!" Heero squealed loudly and swam faster toward the approaching black being.
"Heero!" Came the reply.
Despite the cold water, the word made Heero feel warm all over. He let out a thrilling yelp. It was Duo. It was really him!
And then Duo was before him, rubbing against him, mouthing him, and nuzzling him. Heero responded whole heartedly, mouthing and nuzzling back. Duo moved away a little bit and did a happy twirl. Heero mimicked his action. Duo made a break to the surface and did a flip in the air. Heero followed suit within a second. They then sank back into the sea and went deeper towards the bottom, twirling against each other.
"You waited for me." Duo nuzzled Heero's neck.
"Where have you been?" Heero nuzzled back.
"I was thrown far away by the second tremor and got quite a bit of an injury. It was a good thing that a pod was passing nearby. They took me into their pod and watched over me until I recovered." Duo mouthed Heero's neck. "Once I was strong enough, I set out to find you."
"Be my mate, Heero." Duo touched their noses together.
Heero looked at Duo.
The loud mouthed and perverted dolphin.
His mate for life.
"I'm already yours, Duo."
Duo made a happy sound and spun them around. They slowly went up back to the surface, belly to belly, flippers holding onto each other's body, twisting so slowly around each other like they were dancing.
Like they were one.