Mercury Rising : Part One
by Jana

Notes: My muses took off on this one. I'm trying to keep them in character as much as possible given the obvious total rewrite of their pasts. This was *supposed* to be another PWP, but it took on a life of its own and ended up to be fairly long and I'm pretty sure it's not a PWP anymore, but I'm unable to put my finger on exactly what it is. *sweatdrops* It is also the first time I've attempted to write a fic where Heero and Duo are NOT Heero and Duo...meaning there was no war and that they grew up having lived relatively normal lives; very much unlike their soldier counterparts. It is also my first attempt at a strict 2x1.

Summary: Heero and Duo are both 20 and in college and it is summertime. They don't know each other...but they will.

Heero Yuy spent the weekend packing up his belongings, labeling each box with a detailed list of its contents. "Be careful with that one," he cautioned sternly. The moving men barely nodded as they carried the huge box from the room. Surveying the now empty apartment that he had been exiled to for the past eight months, Heero did a last minute check and exited out into the hallway.

There were very few of his fellow students who called this quiet luxury building in Princeton home during the school year, but his parents had insisted he take up residence here rather than in the dorms. It had proven to be a wise choice. His course load the last two semesters would have allowed him no time for a social life even if he had wanted one. Watching as the last of the boxes was loaded into the back of the small Ryder truck, Heero slid behind the wheel of his white Mercedes.

The nearly hour ride back home was made with surprisingly little trepidation. His parents had left for Europe several days prior and the large house would be left with minimal staffing, allowing the young man sufficient time to just unwind and revel in the peace the upcoming weeks offered.

Pulling into the driveway, Heero brought the vehicle to a stop and exited, taking a moment to enjoy the well-manicured grounds of his home. The huge house sat on nearly five green acres in beautiful Bucks County, PA. He had little recollection of his family's move to the area, his childhood growing up in New York City reduced to merely a blurred memory.

"Mr. Yuy," a voice called out.

Heero turned to see their long-time housekeeper making her way toward him.

Smiling, he walked toward the slender redhead, allowing her to embrace him. "It's Heero, Cynthia." He smiled. "Mr. Yuy is my father."

She blushed slightly and released the young man. "Did you have a nice trip back?" she asked.

"It was without incident," he returned. "They left you to hold down the fort?" he questioned, holding the door open for her as they entered the house.

"Yes. It looks like it will be just the two of us for most of the summer. Something to drink?" she asked as they made their way into the kitchen.

"No. I'm fine, thank you," he returned. "When the movers get here with my things, will you please show them up to my room?" he asked. "I'm going up to get changed and head out for a swim," he announced.

"Certainly." She smiled as she watched the young man ascend the stairs.

Cynthia had been in the Yuy's employ for nearly 16 years, practically since they had moved to Doylestown. While her primary function was that of a housekeeper, her fondness toward the four year old boy who was the only child of her employers, found her playing role of nanny to the small boy as well. She watched fondly as Heero climbed the stairs, no less concerned about his well-being than she had been many years prior.

Heero was an unusually brilliant child. He was focused and excelled at nearly everything he did. He was also extremely introverted. She suspected it had something to do with his being an only child, though it seemed he intentionally repelled any contact with his peers...and his parents as well.

Odin and Vanessa Yuy didn't strike her as the family type. They were young and socially affluent. It was apparent by their behavior as well as their current surroundings. She briefly recalled their first encounter, the two failing to even mention that they had a child, certainly not including any duties relating to the young boy in her job description. Cynthia frowned for a moment, her expression turning lighter as she watched Heero make his way back down into the kitchen.

"Sure I can't interest you in a glass of lemonade?" she asked. "It's fresh," she added, smiling toward him.

Heero nodded and watched as she filled the glass and added several ice cubes to it. "Thank you." He smiled, taking the glass in hand. "When are my parents due back?" he asked.

"Mid-August," she replied. "Didn't they talk with you about it?"

Heero shook his head. "They emailed me to tell me they wouldn't be here when I got home. They also mentioned something about hiring someone to take care of the pool."

"Oh..yes." She smiled, taking a note from the counter. "He will be here later in the week," she told him, handing him the small piece paper. It was written in what he recognized as his mother's handwriting.

"He's staying for the summer?" Heero asked after reading the note, puzzled as he looked up at her.

Cynthia nodded. "Yes. In the guest house out by the pool."

"Why? Couldn't they just hire someone to stop by in the mornings like they usually do?" he asked, handing the note back to her.

"Seems he is the son of one of your father's old college buddies. He was looking for something to do this summer," she responded. "If you ask me..." she added softly, "I think they just wanted to keep him out of trouble."

"Oh..." Heero groaned. "Another one of those..." he continued. He recalled his father's last attempt at hiring summer help in this manner.

"At least it's not that girl again [1]," she told him, nearly laughing out loud at Heero's facial expression. "She really gave you a hard time, didn't she?" Cynthia asked amused.

"No comment." Heero smiled back at her. "At least I don't have to worry about being stalked in my own house this time around," he returned, setting his empty glass down in the sink.

"I certainly hope not," she told him as he exited the house. "Enjoy your swim."

Heero took the hundred yard walk to the pool in deep thought.

The pressure of being a third year CSCI [2] major at Princeton had taken its toll on him and he welcomed the sanctuary his home brought. It was fortunate that his parents didn't press him to find a job during the summer, as a matter of fact, they had been adamant that he *not* take a job, citing his high-strung nature as cause enough. He wasn't about to argue....he knew there was more to it than that.

Last summer had nearly been a complete disaster for him. He had done everything he could to discourage the girl his parents had employed and had resorted to becoming all but a prisoner in his own room to avoid her. He had made his father acutely aware of the situation, stopping just short of coming right out and requesting that he refrain from repeating last summer's error. Apparently he had been too subtle.

Opening the gate to enter the pool area, Heero placed his towel down on a nearby chaise lounge and stepped up onto the diving board. The pool water was a dark crystalline blue and shimmered in invitation under the midday sun. Swimming was one of the few physical activities that Heero actually enjoyed though he forced himself to engage in several others to keep himself fit. Walking to the edge of the 8 foot plank, Heero raised his arms over his head. Bouncing slightly with his toes gripping the end of the gritty board, he took a deep breath and held it before gracefully arching up into the air and diving into the cool water.

Duo Maxwell looked around the one bedroom apartment that he had come to call home. Classes had ended nearly a week ago, yet he found himself still drawn to the lifestyle he had grown accustomed to for the past two years. This particular area of New York City offered him a climate he felt comfortable in. Unlike his former home in Westchester, his appearance drew little attention here, the long-haired youth not known for fitting in. It seemed to piss his parents off.

His two older brothers and younger sister had easily conformed to the mold that Duo abhorred. Despite the fact that he had been accepted into the prestigious Cooper Union for Art and Architecture, his choice of profession further distanced himself from his family. He had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he was destined to remain the black sheep. He found that it suited him just fine.

Taping the last of three small boxes closed, Duo stacked them atop one another out in the hallway and took one last look around his former living quarters. "See you in September." He smiled, closing the door behind him.

"Hey, Duo!" a voice called out. "Need some help with those?"

Duo turned and smiled. "Thanks, Jay. Car is double parked out front," he told the young man as he bent to pick up two of the boxes.

"Headed home for the summer?" the blonde asked, following closely behind him.

"You kidding?" Duo asked jokingly. Despite outward appearances, his neighbor and fellow classmate was one of the few people Duo had taken into his confidence since arriving at school. "What are you still doing here, by the way?" he asked as they descended the stairs.

"I'm staying put for the summer. Got a job at Orange Front," he told Duo. "You working?"

Duo nodded. "If you can call it work." He winked. "Friend of my dad's needs someone to take care of their pool."

"A pool boy?" Jay grinned. "Somehow I just can't see it." He smiled, setting the boxes down beside the black Volvo. "This your car?" he asked.

"Like I would own a car like this," he remarked dryly, turning toward the blonde who had duly noted his sarcasm.

"I thought I knew you better than that." Jay smiled.

"Yeah. It belongs to my old man," he returned, opening the trunk and putting the boxes into it. "Maybe I'll give you an call and you can come down for a few days," Duo told him as he unlocked the door. "I don't know the set up yet, but I've got my own place....a guest house." He smiled as he reached for his sunglasses. "Rich bastards." He grinned starting the car. "Gotta love 'em."

"Sounds great, Duo. Don't work too hard!"

"No worries there...and thanks for your help, Jay. Enjoy...I'll call ya," Duo called out as he pulled away from the curb.

Heero had returned to his room after a short swim and showered before redressing. Standing before his bedroom window, he looked out to the yard below. It really was a magnificent place and he seemed to grow more appreciative of it with each passing year. Oddly, he was unable to recall any fond memories of his childhood growing up here, the most pleasant ones only created the past few summers.

His parents had enrolled him in an accelerated program when he entered junior high and he had graduated two years ahead of schedule. He had little difficulty keeping up with the academics and devoted nearly all his time to his studies. The age difference between him and his fellow classmates held little consequence. The silent young man was mature well beyond his years and the fact that he had chosen not immerse himself in any social activities kept him safe from scrutiny.

The music blared inside the air conditioned vehicle as Duo sped along Route 202. He kept the directions to his *job* on the set beside him, glancing at them on occasion. He had accepted his father's offer of summer employment without reluctance. He smiled as he thought about the shock on his parents faces. He was rarely in agreement with anything they recommended. This, he thought, seemed flawless, an almost perfect summer job.

Given that his life always seemed to diverge toward the rougher of the two paths, he should have suspected that this journey would be no different.

The thought never entered his mind.

Cynthia had spent a better part of late afternoon in Heero's room, aiding him as he unpacked. He had not asked for her assistance nor did he decline her offer. It was more than duty that brought her there, she genuinely enjoyed the young man's company; noting he seemed to feel the same.

Unlike his parents, Heero never spoke to her in a condescending manner, though he was often short on words. The two were never ill at ease with one another, but she had often witnessed the brasher side of the soft spoken young man; his mannerisms seeming to fluctuate greatly depending on whose company he was in.

"You seem to have taken a liking for more modern music," she noted, neatly slipping each disc of his CD collection into the slots of the black metal rack that stood on the floor beside his bed.

"I've expanded my horizons a bit." He smiled back at her. "Though I still prefer classical."

She nodded and continued her task as Heero removed the various components of his computer from its box and set them on his desk. Cynthia watched him from the corner of her eye. She hadn't been surprised when Heero had announced he was planning on becoming a Computer Major, it seemed to suit him. A career as a Programmer would allow him to work in a closed environment with minimal human contact and for the most part, rely only on himself for his success.

She smiled as he handled the machine. "Any projects this summer?" she asked, nodding her head to indicate her question was regarding the computer.

"I've been working on an rpg [3] engine. I'll most likely fool around with it a bit while I'm home," he replied, connecting the last of the hardware and plugging the surge protector into the wall.

"Like Final Fantasy?" she asked.

Heero turned toward her a offered her an innocent smile. "Not quite as sophisticated, but the same general idea," he returned. "Enough of this for today."

She nodded and looked around the room. They had succeeded in unpacking three of the six boxes that sat neatly stacked in the corner.

Duo had decided to spend the night in Lambertville.

He wasn't expected at the Yuy house for another day or two and the quaint town nestled beside the Delaware River attracted his attention as he passed through.

It was unpretentious; the small street that ran through its center lined with antique shops and art galleries. He parked the black Volvo in front of a Bed & Breakfast and headed up the shrub-lined walkway toward the large brightly painted Victorian house. He approached the desk and registered; requesting and being given a room that offered a view of the river. Grabbing an overnight bag from the car, he headed up to his room on the second floor, immediately drawn to the view outside the divided window.

The Delaware River was thin and muddy at this point, the narrow brown water only 300 yards wide and served to separate New Jersey from Pennsylvania. From his vantage point, he could see the dirt trail that lined both sides, the well worn path a testament to its use. Looking further down the river, Duo could see the small metal bridge that was passage for both vehicles and pedestrians alike. Smiling at the vision, he reached into his bag for a large spiral bound pad and a small rounded piece of charcoal. He settled himself onto the wide ledge that sat below the window with one foot tucked up under him and began to sketch.

Heero had risen at 9:00 in the largely unfamiliar space. He had yet to adjust to the surroundings and a quiet that was oddly unnerving. He looked over at the clock and stretched his arms up over his head. Sleeping this late was a luxury and he let out a small moan of pleasure; certain this was something he could grow accustomed to.

Several minutes later, a soft knock came on his partially closed door. "You awake yet?" the female voice asked.

"Just barely," he returned as he brought himself to a seated position. "Come in."

Cynthia smiled as she entered the room, missing the sight of the messy haired young man; his deep blue eyes still filled with sleep. "I made breakfast for's in the microwave. I'm going into town for a while. You need anything?" she asked from the doorway.

"I think I'm all set," he told her, rising from the bed. "French toast?" he questioned, looking toward her as his senses began to wake.

She offered him a wide smile and nodded. "I haven't forgotten. Now go eat it before it gets cold," she finished, closing the door behind her. She stood for a moment on the other side, picturing the smile that deserved to be on the young mans handsome face. It saddened her it was rarely there.

Duo chose to spend the morning and a good portion of the afternoon familiarizing himself with the small town. He walked through its center, stopping in several of the shops and making a few purchases. Tucking the bags snugly into the back seat, he started the engine and proceeded toward his destination; thirty miles north of his current location.

Merging back onto Route 202 just minutes later, Duo fell prey to the silence inside the vehicle. He hated it..if left him with too much time to think and he found himself caught up in the thoughts that seemed to bombard him from out of thin air.

Why the hell was he doing this?

Thinking back, he realized that he should have maintained his contrary posture when dealing with his parents. They had made the suggestion in an almost offhand manner over dinner one night. He felt little reluctance to offer an objection as it hadn't come in their standard 'forcing things down his throat' method.

The possibility that they'd figured out a way to coerce him into doing things brought a sour look to his face and he sighed. He had committed himself to this and while he had every intention of keeping his word; he had no intention of enjoying it.

Heero spent the first minutes of the morning in his standard fashion, taking a quick shower before grabbing his coffee and heading out to the pool. He had fallen into the routine during last summers visit and picked up on it without forethought on this his first day back home. He paused as he passed through the kitchen, recalling that Cynthia left him breakfast. He grabbed the plate from the microwave and a cup of coffee and made his way through the yard.

Cynthia was her usual talkative self during lunch and Heero equally in character with his silence. The subject of their soon-to-be guest came up and Cynthia informed Heero that she'd received a call and that he should be expected sometime late this afternoon.

Heero nodded to acknowledge her words, offering no comment in return. There was a small part of him that welcomed the stranger, though only for a selfish reason; he disliked the idea having to maintain the pool himself.

It was nearly 5:30 when the noise of an approaching car attracted Heero's interest. The house was located on a dead end street and saw very little traffic. Without conscious thought, Heero took note of even the smallest disturbance in the typical silence. He followed the hum of the engine and paused his movements as it slowed; crossing his room to look out the window at the rear of the house. He saw the late model Volvo turn the curve in the driveway and stop several feet shy of the garage doors.

From his window, Heero observed Cynthia as she exited the house as the driver stepped from inside the vehicle. It was the hair that caught his attention first; holding it for several confusing seconds. There was an excessive amount of it and it trailed down the center of their back in a thick loosely woven braid.

His brow wrinkled and he did a double take....recalling his conversation with Cynthia and reassuring himself that the expected summer help was indeed to be male. He looked more closely at the tall, slender figure, but was unable get a better look; the young man well hidden beneath his black baseball cap and dark glasses.

Cynthia approached him and extended her hand. He watched the exchange and could see the two smiling at one another and what he assumed to be the two making their introductions. They spoke only briefly before Cynthia pointed at the guest house and they started toward it. His eyes followed their movement until they reached the white gate that marked the entrance to the pool area and then he laid back down on his bed and continued reading.

About thirty minutes had passed when he heard the slam of a car door and sat up to look out the window again, watching as the thin braided young man removed several pieces of luggage from the trunk of his vehicle. He made his way down the path and Heero watched as he entered the guest house; startled seconds later by a knock on his door.


He rose and answered, finding the tall redheaded housekeeper on the other side. "Time for dinner."

"I see our company has arrived."

"Yes. He's just getting himself settled in. Seems nice enough."

Heero walked behind her through the long hallway and down the stairs. Nice had nothing to do with it. "Let's hope he does a good job."

[1] *snickers* Anyone care to guess who might have been responsible for stalking and torturing our poor young Heero?

[2] Computer science...what else. ^_~

[3] role playing game: *winks at Kristen and tells her to pass it along to Colin*

On to part two.