The thing about priorities
It was 07:35, and Lind was about ten minutes away from being fired. This would be the third time that year and that was not something his budget could survive, so Lind jumped out of bed and donned a pair of sweatpants, grabbed his keys and stepped in to a pair of flip-flops on his way out. He flew down the stairs at neck breaking speed, not forgetting to wave at the old lady on the third floor who always made him cookies, and ran to his car. It was one of those days for sure, he could tell because he'd had quite a few of them.
"Alright Roxy-baby, don't let me down now," he said patting the dashboard encouragingly before starting the old Chevy Impala, named for the paint job which depicted the cover art of Roxy Music's album 'For Your Pleasure'. Roxy made a few disturbing noises but started without hassle. It was 07:39 which meant he had exactly six minutes to get to work. If all went smoothly, he'd make it in five, but he started compiling excuses anyway. He sort of doubted 'my imaginary dog ate my car keys' would cut it. It was 07:45 when he parked his car and was almost flattened by a Mini on his way to the entrance.
"You bloody psycho!" Lind yelled at the driver, waving his arms about, but the car was already out of sight. He continued his trot to the door. It was 07:50 when he greeted Mickey and rushed to get changed. When he re-appeared a cup of coffee was thrust at him and he accepted gratefully.
"Man the traffic was hellish. Something should be done," he complained theatrically.
Mickey smirked. "Much better than 'my dog ate my car keys'. You hair is a mess. How were the waves?"
"Killer. I think I almost broke my arm Saturday. How's your mum?" he asked.
Mickey shrugged. "Alive, just not kicking. That truck completely crushed her foot. At least it didn't crush her."
"Speaking of crushing, I was nearly made a stain in the pavement by this idiot driving a Mini. Some people should just be banned from driving," Lind grumped.
"A blue Mini?" Mickey asked.
"Yeah, light blue. What a fuckwit."
"That would be my brother, he drove me to work. And to come to his defence as a good little brother should, at least his car works," Mickey said with a grin on his face.
"Don't slag off my Roxy, she's been with me longer than my mother. And you can tell your brother he's a fuckwit."
Mickey nodded. "Will do. Flip for the first wave?"
"Heads," called Lind.
Mickey tossed a coin and grimaced. "Drink your coffee wave boy, I get the first invasion of little terrors. Yours will get here around nine."
Lind raised his cup in salute to Lady Luck and took a stroll to the outdoor pool. It was an old tradition between lifeguards to toss for the first shift of school kids who came for lessons, and Lind had recently been included in it. It was also tradition to let the new guy deal with it, which should be obvious. It was fortunate for the ever tardy Lind that he tended to win the toss-up and escape the chaos more often than not.
Still a bit groggy, Lind peered in to the water. He had been sure something had moved in there, but it was clearly his imagination. Besides, coffee was a much more interesting pursuit. There it was again, this time he was really sure he had seen something race through the water.
"I am so not in the mood for this." he mumbled, but he got out of his chair and went to investigate "Mickey probably knew about this," he muttered. "Bastard's probably laughing right now."
Lind walked around a bit, looking for whomever was ruining his morning so he could get the shouting over with and be one with his coffee again. When he saw it, his jaw dropped. It was obviously a person, but one who swam faster than anything he had ever seen and did not seem to come up for air. He blew his whistle to get the swimmer's attention, but the only thing that did was make the swimmer turn and race for the other side of the pool.
"Hey! Hey you, this pool isn't open yet!" he shouted, running after the fleeing boy, for it was certainly a boy. He couldn't catch up to him, by the time he was halfway to the other side the boy had heaved himself out and was running towards the fence. "Hey, wait!" Lind shouted, but the boy with the light blue hair jumped and was over the fence in no time at all. It was only after he had gone that Lind realised he had been stark naked.
"Right," he said to himself, "We are pretending this never happened. There was no crazy naked blue haired kid. You are still half asleep. This is what happens when you do not finish your coffee. Which you will do now. Calmly."
The rest of his day was quite uneventful compared to the apparition of the morning, none of the kids drowned, the swim team had its usual practice session. The lifeguards cleaned up around the pool and had their usual post-work beer in the small café which was part of the complex. Lind even found a spare shirt in his locker which was very welcome for his ride home as his Roxy didn't have any control over the moody air-conditioning unit he was cursed with. That thing existed only to annoy him, but he had grown used to it and tended to keep a spare sweater on the backseat.
"Yo Roxy, time to head home babe," he told his car, giving it a pat on the hood.
"Still talking to that car, are we? You're making me wonder if this is the only girl you'll ever sleep with," Mickey teased.
"If this is your way of begging for a ride Greene, I must inform you your technique is sorely lacking," Lind retorted.
"Ah, shame, here I was thinking I'd give you a chance to yell at my brother. But if the answer is no, I'll just have to accept that," said Mickey dramatically.
"Please do not poke my masculine side, after having endured three sisters, it is long dead. Your brother could not interest me less. A nice pizza, however," Lind said batting his eyelashes.
Mickey raised his hands in surrender. "Fish, fish, and some more fish, correct?"
"Very correct. Nearly perfect, in fact."
"Oh, yes. Olives. How could I forget," Mickey said, rolling his eyes.
"Perfect," Lind agreed. "Now get in, I am starving and the sooner I get you home, the sooner I eat."
They got in and Mickey quickly noticed Lind was staring at the steering wheel and muttering.
"Do we need to pray?" he asked jokingly, and the car started. Lind glared at his passenger.
"Do not mock the one girl in my life or you'll be walking."
"True, but who will feed you then?" Mickey pointed out.
Lind had to admit he had a point there, if Mickey didn't feed him he would probably only eat some ramen and watch television until he fell asleep. Mickey, however, made terribly good pizzas and lived two feet away from the beach. It was an easy decision to make really, and besides that, the blonde was pretty good company when Roxy wasn't the main topic of conversation. He wasn't too hard on the eyes either, blonde with a swimmer's build, and blue-green eyes which were always shining with some sort of amusement.
Lind often wondered about Mickey, why would a man who owned a beach house choose to work as a lifeguard at the local swimming pool? Boredom was about the best he could come up with. Then there was the mysterious brother no one had ever seen, although he clearly existed otherwise Lind would have imagined his pseudo-flattening and he didn't like to think he imagined more than one strange occurrence a day.
"Wake up dozy, we're here," Mickey nudged him.
"I am quite awake, as you might have been able to tell from the lack of dead around here. I was doing this little thing called driving, you may be familiar with it. Oh, wait. You're not," said Lind sticking his tongue out at his passenger.
Mickey ignored him and led the way to the house. The house itself was a little ways off from the road, almost on the beach itself. It was a two storey construction made mostly of wood with two balconies of respectable size and an outdoors staircase. The interior was modest but comfortable, they clearly lacked nothing.
And there was a blue Mini parked outside. The road-maniac-slash-elusive-brother was home.
"You go and sit down, I'll go get us some drinks," said Mickey.
There was another odd thing, Lind noticed. There were no photographs anywhere in Mickey's sitting room. A few plants stood in strategic places, a horrible landscape graced the wall and of course there was furniture, but no pictures of the family or friends, or anyone. Nevertheless, the place had a homey feel to it and Lind stretched out on the sofa, watching the waves through the window. He turned his head slightly when he heard splashing noised of wet footsteps and froze. It was the blue haired boy from earlier, entirely nude and soaking wet. When he noticed Lind the boy squeaked and ran. Lind jumped as if doused with cold water and chased after him. The boy was trudging up the stairs and Lind followed, but when he reached the top the boy was nowhere to be seen. Instead there was a tall blond man wearing a towel and watching him bemusedly.
The man was gorgeous, his tanned skin glistened from the drops of water and he had the most amazing sea green eyes. He had the same hair as Mickey, a golden blond which shone like mad when the sun hit it, only longer and wavier. Lind was instantly sure he would never forget him, even if he never saw him again.
"Excuse me, but who might you be?" the man asked?
"Lindsay Marks, eh, friend of Mickey's. From the pool," he answered.
"Right, I remember now. You're 'Lind with the batshit insane Chevy'."
"That's me, yeah. But don't slag off my Roxy dammit," he grumbled.
"Duly noted," the stranger said with a grin. "I'm Troy, but almost everyone calls me Paris. I'm Michael's brother."
"A pleasure," said Lind. "This may sound a bit odd, but have you seen a naked boy run past here?"
Paris looked down at his towel and back at Lind. "Not exactly running, but most definitely a boy, and quite naked," he said, winking at Lind.
Lind wanted to slap himself. What an idiot, who knew what Troy, no, Paris would think of him now. "Eh, this one had blue hair," he stammered. If he hadn't been staring, he would have missed the tiny twitch of Paris' mouth.
"I'm afraid the nudity around here is limited to me, more's the pity."
"You should have said, I'd have gotten undressed before I came up here."
Paris rolled his eyes. "Please don't Michael, you'll scare your guest. He might get the idea we're running a nudist colony," he said meaningfully.
"You can if you like, it wouldn't be the strangest thing around here," Lind grumbled.
"What are you going on about now?" Mickey asked.
Lind shook his head. "Never mind, I'm probably imagining things again. Feed me, and all of that will go away."
Mickey handed him a beer and patter him on the shoulder. "There, there, everything will be fine. Come, we'll watch one of my brother's obscure foreign films so you can feel normal again."
"Why can't we watch 'but I'm a cheerleader'?" Lind whined and Paris failed to smother a snigger.
"Truly, it is a work of cinematic genius," he said. "Now if you'll excuse me, I go to deal with the nudity around here."
"I'll drink to that," said Mickey. Lind was sad to see him go, but he wasn't sure it was him or the towel he would miss most.
"Come, Lind, he is very real and you'll seem him soon," said Mickey, pulling Lind along.
"I was staring in horror I'll have you know," Lind said.
"Stare in whatever you like, just roll up your tongue, you're ruining my floor," Mickey told him and went down the stairs, whistling merrily.
"You are supremely annoying," Lind commented, but his nose cut his tirade short. If he wasn't mistaken, there was something in the oven. Something pizza-smelling. That warranted investigation and he left Mickey to dig up whatever movie he wanted while he set course for the kitchen.
His nose had not been deceiving him, he was happy to note. There was something distinctly pizza-shaped in the oven. He almost felt the need to congratulate himself on his fine discovery. He looked around the kitchen a bit, noting it was very shiny, and opened the fridge. There was quite a lot of fish in there, he was not the only one who preferred the little creatures to red meat it seemed. There was actually more than a lot of fish. There was a scary amount of fish. Also, there was beer, and juice. But not much else. Lind frowned, surely there would be more in a refrigerator of that size. At least one tomato, or a carrot. He rummaged around but only came up with more fish.
"Do you need assistance finding the way out?" he heard Paris say behind him and nearly jumped into the air.
"Um, no, don't think so. Ah look, found it," he said, smiling at Paris, who was decidedly not naked in his tight shirt and jeans. A noise made him look out the window, but Paris reclaimed his attention by putting a warm hand on his shoulder.
"I think Michael has finished digging through my collection and come up with nothing. We should help him in his noble pursuit," Paris said.
Lind shrugged and followed Paris to the sitting room where Mickey sat on the sofa surrounded by at least a few hundred scattered DVDs. "I have narrowed it down to nothing," he said. "Everything here is in French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Russian, or German, none of which I understand or have the slightest desire to understand. You pick something."
"I have something in the car, actually," Lind said.
Mickey groaned. "Tell me."
"But I'm a cheerleader," Lind said victoriously to Paris' vast amusement.
"Fine," Mickey said, making shooing motions. "Go get it."
Lind jumped up and raced out of the room and to his car. He wormed himself through the window and retrieved the DVD from the floor, his shirt catching on something as he pulled away. He struggled out of it and tried to pull it free, groaning as he heard a distinct ripping sound.
"Damn it all Roxy, I'm starting to think you like seeing me naked," he told his car. There was nothing he could do, his shirt was ruined and so he threw it in to the car and turned to walk back to the house. The sea was so pretty when the stars were out, he decided. He should really take a picture of it some time, and have it enlarged for Mickey so he could ditch that hideous landscape hanging in his house. He smiled, the smile turning in to a sort of stunned expression when he saw who was on the balcony of Mickey's house. It was the blue haired boy, only he was not alone. There were two of them!
Lind nearly dropped the DVD in his haste to get to the house, but when he got there he very slowly climbed the stairs, determined to make as little sound as possible. He was not crazy damn it, and he would prove it. He quietly tried the door, breathing a sigh of relief when it was not locked. From what he had seen from the outside, the balcony was somewhere in the middle, so he tried the most likely door, ending up in a beautiful bedroom. It was all blues and greens and light wood with a monstrously huge bed squatting against the left wall. He ignored it, there would be time to look around later, and went for the balcony door.
He pressed himself up against the wall and listened, surprised that he could understand every word spoken.
"Paris is mightily upset with us, I think. The land walker saw us too many times, he said. He won't forget," said one melodious voice.
"Pah, Sherrati will soothe Michael, and he will calm Paris. I still say that boy needs a good ravishing. He would not be nearly so uptight," the other answered.
"You are right of course. So ravish him already. Or are you frightened?" the voice asked lightly.
"Not so much frightened, but I know his heart is not mine to have. Eh, there will come a day. Let us return to the water, I have had it with the land and the land walkers for a day."
Lind was sure his eyebrows were up to his hairline by that point. His jaw was also precariously close to the floor. He shook his head to clear it, but to no avail. He was not crazy. No, he was merely insane. Land walkers, who had ever heard something so preposterous? He wanted to march out there with a 'now see here', but his feet weren't up to the task. There were some rustling sounds, and then nothing. A minute later, he moved the curtain aside and peered through the window. Two shapes were running towards the water, long blue locks waving in the wind.
"Right," he said to himself. "You either have an overactive imagination, or Mickey has much explaining to do." He turned resolutely and marched down the stairs, surprising both Greene brothers when he appeared in the sitting room.
"There you are. I was about to send Paris here to look for you," Mickey said. "I had wondered if that wench of yours had fled. What happened to your shirt?"
Lind rolled his eyes and flopped down on the floor, cradling the DVD he had been gripping in his lap. "Stop. Slagging. Off. Roxy," he said carefully. "She's more reliable than the lot of you."
Mickey looked at him questioningly, nudging his brother. "Did you have something to do with this?"
"Not that I'm aware of," Paris shrugged.
"But Lind, what happened to your shirt?" Mickey repeated.
"Roxy ate it, sort of," he answered.
Mickey raised an eyebrow. "It seems you're not the only one who needs to eat. Speaking of food, I should check on that pizza."
"You know, I met the most interesting person today," Lind said cheerfully interrupting him. He was watching both brothers closely as he continued. "It was a very stimulating conversation, too. I heard about Sherrati," he said, grinning evilly when Mickey went decidedly pale and Paris' eyes nearly doubled in size.
"Wow, eh, how, interesting," Mickey stammered. "Who did you say you met?"
Lind cocked his head, a finger on his lip. "I'm not quite sure which one it was, the first naked blue haired boy, or the second."
Paris groaned, closing his eyes and letting his head fall back against the sofa. He swatted Mickey over the head. "This is entirely your fault. The first pretty boy you bring me home gets an eyeful of mermaid and rubs it in my face. It's your fault."
"My fault," Mickey said at the same time Lind exclaimed "Mermaid?"
"Yes to both," Paris said, his eyes still closed.
"Wait," Lind said, staring at Paris. "Pretty boy?"
"Mmhm, quite pretty."
"You think I'm pretty," Lind said disbelievingly. "You."
Paris opened an eye and looked at him. "This is difficult to believe?"
"But," Lind started to say but then opted to gesture between the two of them wildly instead. "You're all, Greek god chic!" he finally said.
Both Mickey and Paris burst out in giggles at that, for which Mickey got swatted over the head. "Hey! Enough with the hitting," he protested.
"Entirely your fault," Paris reminded him. "How exactly, am I to ask him out after this debacle?" Mickey shrugged.
"Hey Lind, you want to go out with my brother?" he asked coolly to which Lind answered by letting his jaw drop again. "The floor Lind, I have warned you about it. Stop drooling and kiss him already," he said rolling his eyes.
"Um, sorry," was all Lind managed to say before launching himself at the unsuspecting Paris, who suddenly found himself with an armful of skinny lifeguard. Lind decided that touching Paris would have to be one of his top five favourite things to do. There was much to be said for the warmth of his skin, and the smoothness, that should not be left out either. Also, there was the smell of Paris, which was quite like the smell of ocean, but not that smell they put in cheap scented candles but the real smell of ocean, all fresh and salty.
"You really need to eat more," Paris nearly breathed, but Lind heard him just fine.
"Clearly, if that's all you have to say," he remarked, but he didn't get a chance to say more because Paris was kissing him, and if there was something to be said for touching, there was even more to be said for kissing but Lind was in no position to say it. When he was allowed up for air, he giggled.
"You taste of fish," he stated, brushing a few stray hairs away from Paris' face, Paris, who honest to god snarled, and claimed his mouth again. Now that was something, there were teeth and tongue and quite a lot of sucking too. It was messy, and Lind simply adored messy, especially when it came to kisses. It was a good thing Paris had good priorities, just as he did, and the kissing was million kinds of more important than fish.
Speaking of priorities, one of those had to be making sure Mickey never realised just how unfortunately named they were, because if he had to sit through even one minute of Mickey laughing at 'Lindsay and Paris', he would throttle him. As he intended to stay around, that would have to become a rule. He was sure Paris would back him up in this matter.
Mickey cleared his throat and stood up. "As entertaining as this is, the food's ready. And you said it too, he needs to eat. For all that he surfs daily, he's atrociously thin."
Lind turned away from that delicious mouth with an expression much resembling that of a child on Christmas morning. "Pizza?"
The brothers laughed, and Paris helped him up. "It's one of the few things Mickey can make successfully, so it's fairly safe to assume you get pizza," Paris said. "You're ok?"
Lind stared at him questioningly. "The mermaids," Paris elaborated. "Merpeople actually."
"Oh, them," Lind said waving dismissively. "You can tell me some other time. Say, is the pretty bedroom yours?"
Paris smirked. "Perhaps. You can show me later, and we'll find out."
"They were right," Lind said decisively. When Paris only stared he explained. "The mermaids. They said you needed to be ravished."
The look on Paris' face was absolutely priceless, but Lind was determined to see what other expressions that face could make. And maybe later he would have time for mermaids. But later, because he had sound priorities.