"It's cold!"

"Quit griping. You're only ankle deep."

"Still cold."

"Just- c'mon. Get in the water."

"Who's idea was this anyway?"

"Yours. Now come on."

Cain snorted and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring as if Abel and the water had done him a personal wrong. He kicked one foot, grumpily satisfied by the splash, then firmly re-planted both feet. Save for his toes, which wiggled on the bottom of the tanning pool, he refused to budge. "This is a stupid idea."

"What?" Abel asked with a curious tilt of his head. "Swimming? Or the pool?"

"Both," Cain grunted.

Abel held back a sigh, reminding himself to be patient. He knew Cain had grown up on one of the space colonies, which didn't have the luxury of affording large amounts of water to swimming pools. Cain had been both openly amazed and unnerved by his first unclose view of the ocean, but as awed as he had been while watching, he had stayed well away from the tide. Even though Cain would never admit it, Abel knew he was probably scared of the water. After all, he couldn't swim, had never had the chance to learn.

So now they were at the private pool owned by Abel's parents, enjoying the sun, the classic rock playing on the radio and with any luck, they'd actually get to enjoy the water.

"Just wade out slowly," Abel advised calmly. "It's shallow enough to stand right here."

Cain looked doubtful, curling his upper lip. "What's the big deal anyway? I get in, splash around, and I'm supposed to have fun doing that?"

"Cain… Could you just try?" Abel asked quietly, a little disappointed.

Cain scowled and looked away, rolling his shoulders awkwardly under the pressure. Finally, mumbling profanities under his breath to work up some courage, he stepped further into the water. He stopped when he was waist deep, slightly wide-eyed and looking like he wanted to bolt. When he caught Abel staring with a barely restrained smile, he gave his best glare. "Happy now?"

Like a parent guiding a learning toddler, Abel kicked backward into the deeper part of the pool, legs moving smoothly to keep him floating in place. "You're doing great!" he encouraged with a smile. "Make your way toward me if you can. Don't fight the water, calmly paddle yourself through it."

Cain scoffed, puffing how his chest for a macho act or because of the cold, Abel was sure which. "'If I can'," Cain repeated sarcastically, but he moved forward with suspicion. When the water reached his chin and he began to lose his footing, panic flickered across his features, and he jerked backward with a splash.

"Easy!" Abel called. "You got this. Kick your legs back and forth underneath you, almost like you're riding a bike." Belatedly, Abel realized that it was possible Cain had never ridden a bike either, so he guiltily amended, "Rhythmically paddle with your feet, it'll keep you upright."

Cain was wide-eyed, and his jaw was locked tightly as proof of his nervousness, but he managed to awkwardly kick at the water and stay afloat.

"Great!" Abel complimented, motioning Cain forward by gently splashing the water with his hands.

"I feel like an idiot," Cain griped, his breaths quick. "A drowning one."

Abel laughed. "Nope, you're swimming. Now see if you can come here."


"Use your arms. Like this." Abel demonstrating, broad-stroking briefly through the water. "Imagine you're, um…"

"Punching Praxis."

"…Sure, okay. Punching Praxis."

Looking pleased with himself, Cain messily splashed his way through the water, gaining some distance from the wall. By the time he made it to Abel, he was breathing hard and looking grimly accomplished.

Abel smiled playfully, wrapping his arms around Cain's waist without applying any weight. "So proud," he murmured, his breath ghosting air on Cain's ear before he leaned in for a teasing kiss, one hand moving to elastic of Cain's blue swim trunks. "I think I know the perfect reward."

"Nope," Cain said, shaking his head and tearing himself away from Abel. "Nope, nope, nope."

"W-what?" Abel asked, entirely confused. "Cain, what're you-"

"Nope. I'm out. Can't do this anymore. This is wrong. Not a fish," he explained choppily, almost desperately, as he started assaulting the water again in an effort to get back to the shallow end.

Abel didn't know whether to laugh or be concerned. Instead, he winced over Cain's swimming abilities. "Remember to be smooth! Remember Praxis! Praxis!" he shouted.

Cain somehow managed to get to the edge without any more mumbled obscenities, and he hauled himself out onto the tiles. Laying back on his lone wolf embellished towel, he put an arm over his eyes. "I miss space," he complained. "Space wasn't wet, space wasn't tiring, and space didn't make my girlfriend look like a shriveled prune."

"…Did you just call me a prune?"

"You've seriously been in there for too long, get out."