For all the faithful reviewers who have been with me since the beginning. Without your support, I wouldn't be here. Thank you.

Tickled by the Tide

Summer heat shimmered over the white sand of the beach, creating daydreams in midair as swimmers headed towards the ever-so-blue water just within their reach. Waves lapped against the shore, the rushing sound of them filling the sky, leaving no room for anything but the sound and smell of the ocean. Gulls cried overhead, their voices lost in the tumult of the happy chorus of people who had forgotten their worries, if only for a day. Everywhere you looked there were tanned bodies, golden bodies, bodies that had never seen an ounce of sun and would turn a blotchy red in a few hours. Heero had seen it all before and paid little attention to those around him. He came only for the waves and nothing else.

Surf board under his arm, he walked barefoot to the edge of the water, letting the tide tickle his toes. The water was warm today and so clear he could see the shells on the bottom. The wind that tousled his unruly dark hair was strong, strong enough to sand blast the sun worshippers behind him every few minutes. There was a storm brewing out at sea and by late afternoon it would hammer the coastal cities, but right now it made for perfect waves.

Attaching the safety line to his ankle, he waded out into the water till he was in up to his waist. Releasing his board for the moment, he dived through an oncoming wave and out the other side, shaking the water off his body in a moment of sublime pleasure. Nothing could beat the feel of the sun on his back and water beneath him. Nothing.

He grabbed his board again and hefted himself up, lying flat on his belly as his arms propelled him over the next wave. He bypassed several of them, watching as other surfers caught them and sped away. None of them got very far. They were too impatient. Every surfer knew that there was a perfect wave, the one that if you were lucky enough to catch it would carry you all the way to shore and leave you standing. He would not be foolish like the others. He would wait.

"Heero! What are you doing? Geez, man, did you come to surf or get sunstroke?"

Heero didn't turn his head as another surfer moved his board closer to him, this man wearing a wide grin, his long brown hair trailing down his back in a tight braid that would be full of salt by the time they were through for the day. His violet eyes were bright as he took a deep breath of fresh air.

"Wow, it's great out here." Duo glanced sideways at him. "Didn't expect to see you today, but I'm glad you came. You'll get to see her."

They both flipped their boards upside down as a particularly tough wave crashed over them, and then turned over again, blinking the water out of their eyes.

"Maxwell, I won't pretend to know what you're talking about. I came to surf and that's all."

Duo gave him a look as if he had just proclaimed that the world was flat and soon they would be swimming off the edge.

"What are you talking about? Don't tell me you don't know about her! Everyone knows this is her day." He sniffed, apparently appalled at Heero's lack of interest. "Really, Yuy, what do you do with your time?"

"More than you do, I would guess." Heero glanced at his friend who grinned childishly back. Heero sighed. "Alright, who is this girl that has you at the beach at ten o'clock?"

Duo pumped a fist into the air as if he had just won a marathon. "I knew you couldn't resist asking me. It's in your nature to know everything and I knew if I just dropped a hint here and there— "

"Duo," Heero said warningly.

"Keep your pants on, Yuy. Now, as I was going to say, you've got to keep your eyes open." Duo demonstrated this by opening his violet eyes to their fullest. "She appears every Thursday in the morning. I think she comes to visit her brother but— "

"Where?" Heero interrupted, curious despite himself. Duo pointed towards the shore.

"There."

'There' was the ocean front manor belonging to one of the most influential politicians in the area. Heero had walked past it hundreds of times but had never really looked at it before. It was a massive thing but with the cool, serene lines of a competent architect. There was an enormous balcony that overlooked the beach and this is where Duo's finger aimed.

"She comes to the balcony and watches the surfers." A sort of dreamy look passed over Duo's face and Heero scowled. "She's beautiful, unlike any girl I've every seen, though I think she's a bit lonely. She just stands there and watches but before she leaves she always picks one surfer and blows them a kiss and you should see her face light up as everyone falls all over themselves trying to get her attention. She's almost…unreal."

Heero grunted noncommittally, though he had to admit the water was getting crowded with surfers. Soon it would be impossible to ride a wave without running over someone.

And all this for a girl?

Heero snorted in disgust.

"You think that now," Duo said, reading his mind, "but wait until you see her."

"I have no intention of making an idiot out of myself for some— "

Duo sat straight up on his board, a silly grin on his face. "There she is!"

Heero almost growled. It appeared he would be seeing this 'goddess' whether he liked it or not. Turning his head towards shore, he let his dark blue eyes travel up to the balcony to the slim figure that stood there, leaning against the railing on her elbows. His throat went dry and he suddenly had trouble swallowing.

She really was a vision.

Long, thick, honey-gold hair breezed about a face a artist would weep to paint and, despite the distance, Heero knew her eyes were the color of the ocean at sunset. She was wearing a flimsy cotton dress that fit her small frame perfectly and he could understand why his fellow male surfers would show off for her. She was lovely, but with such an air of sadness that, at that moment, he would have done anything to make her smile.

Unfortunately, just about everyone had that same thought. All around him surfers were mounting their boards and pushing themselves through the waves, waiting for the one with enough strength to carry them. They called to each other, boasting about their abilities, hoping the wind would carry their words to the girl on the balcony. It was a game to them, he realized. Whoever won a kiss from her would be the best of them. It didn't matter who she was, or what her life was like. For them, she was a prize, a goal, a target.

For him, she was…

He dipped his hands into the water and paddled himself forward, ignoring Duo's shout behind him. He would only have one chance. One wave. The perfect wave.

There.

It built slowly, sucking the water from beneath him as it rose and he turned his board to face the beach, watching the wave as it crested just behind him. With one smooth motion he pushed himself up and he was standing and the power of the ocean roared in his ears and lent him wings. As one, Heero and the wave surged forward, scattering everyone in their wake. Salt and spray battered him but he knew nothing except the wood beneath his feet and a pair of aqua eyes that watched him in amazement.

The wave disintegrated as it reached the shallows and Heero simply slid off his board, griping it as he did so and bringing it up and under his arm. He glanced behind him to see if anyone else had made it and was surprised to realize no one has dared to catch the wave he had. He smirked, seeing Duo waving at him furiously, before turning his head to the beachside manor, waiting.

She was gazing at him with a mixture of amusement and pride, and a melancholy sort of longing that made his heart ache just a little. After a moment, she straightened and lifted a delicate hand to press her fingers to her lips, her breath blowing across her palm as she sent him a kiss. Without looking away from her, he lifted his arm and plucked it from the air, his hand curving around something that lived only in his mind.

And she smiled.

It was like seeing the sun peeking through the clouds on a stormy afternoon. It brightened everything around her and he heard distant applause from the watchers.

It brightened her.

But the moment was short and she turned, ocean gusts whipping the folds of her thin dress as she went inside, disappearing from view. Heero watched the balcony for a moment as those around him began to talk, already forgetting the moment they had just witnessed. It would happen again next week, with a different victor, so what did it matter?

He would make it matter.

He turned away finally and waded back out in the water, meeting Duo halfway, his friend slapping him on the back heartily.

"Didn't know you had it in you, buddy! Man, what a show! I don't think she's ever smiled before."

Heero nodded. To them she was only a passing amusement.

To him, she was…

…a wish.

He hefted himself back onto his board, angling away from the beach, awaiting another wave. He did not glance back at the manor but instead turned to catch Duo's attention, the braided boy blinking at the intensity in his gaze.

"How about meeting me here next Thursday, Maxwell?"