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Disclaimer:I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings:male/male sex, graphic, language, violence, grittiness
Sweat and Tears
I'd grown up on the streets and stayed in strange places. I could sleep anywhere and at anytime. I was a switch; on and off. That night though, as the reflectors overhead tilted away from the sun and darkness crept across L2, I was wide awake and snatching glimpses of Heero where he lay on the futon. The agents hadn't damaged it that bad and Heero said it was more than he was used to. He had undressed down to a gray pair of cotton boxers, with buttons on the front, and left his tank top on. I had watched his muscles flex and bunch as he had stretched out and made himself comfortable. I had stared when he had run a hand through his unruly hair, sighed, and simply gone to sleep... the way I wanted to right now. It didn't help that the security lights out on the scrap lot were coming through the window and making him ... well... glow and very visible.
When I had asked about clothing, Heero had pulled a duffel bag from beneath the stairs. He had shrugged and said something to the effect that he hadn't wanted to presume his welcome that much and make me angry unnecessarily. He had figured, after the day before, that I was angry enough. When he had gone to shower, I had, of course, gone through his things. Socks, underwear, tshirts, tank tops, and a few pairs of jeans were all he had. His gun was conspicuously missing. There wasn't any way that he could hide it in those shorts that he was wearing. That made me scratch my head. An unarmed Heero Yuy just didn't seem right, somehow. The man I remembered, wouldn't have taken a chance like that. That made me narrow my eyes and look at Heero in a different way, one that didn't involve my long neglected libido. What if he had someone watching us, Preventer agents using the station security grid to spy on us?
My paranoia made me twitch the curtains closed. That let in some light still,
but not enough to actually see anything. My libido wanted to strangle me, but
my street sense was nodding sagely and agreeing. I listened to Heero breathe
and could almost hate that street sense, the instinct that would never really
let me drop my guard. It had kept me alive, but it had made me lonely too. How
could anyone get close to me when I couldn't bring myself to ever trust them?
I tried to get comfortable. I had on an oversized shirt that fell to my knees and some cotton shorts with an athletic logo on them. Hilde had bought them for me. I'd never been much on sports. Heero had given it a once over look and I had felt kind of awkward. His look hadn't said anything and I had hoped it would. Stupid, stupid hope. I never could keep it bottled up for long. Here I was, sleeping next to Heero Yuy, not only straight, but probably just the tip of a huge, undercover, Preventer sting operation that might be watching us right then and there. Sure, we had shared confidences, and I don't think he could have pretended his emotions that well, but duty was duty and it had used to be Heero's middle name. I mentally shot a rubber band at 'hope' and it ran away yelping.
I finally drifted off to sleep. I had uneasy dreams though, about the war of course, but something soothed me out of them each time before they became too bad. When I finally awoke, I sat up yawning, and found Heero's futon empty, just the impression of his body left behind.
I took my morning shower, shaved what few whiskers I still had trouble growing, brushed my teeth, and then pulled on jeans and a tshirt. Padding out of the bedroom, I found the little office empty as well. Heero's duffel was still there, though, and the remains of a meal pack in the garbage. He was still around, maybe looking over the yard. I didn't want to think that he had gone to the other shack to begin cleaning. No, sireee, not before some strong coffee and some time to wrap my head around the day.
After the last of my uneasy night faded away, and my coffee was gone, I finally shoved my feet into my boots and opened the front door. Heat blasted me. Furious, I ran off the porch, picked up a chunk of scrap, and threw it at the sky, screaming, "FUUUUCK YOUUUUU!!!" It landed with a clatter and Heero came out from behind a pile of machine parts.
Heero peered up at the sky briefly, his wide brimmed hat shading his eyes, and then he looked at me in amusement. "I hope you aren't suggesting that the weather control technician is God?"
I scowled and shoved hands deep into my jean pockets. "What else am I going to get mad at? The equipment for the heat, and other things, are on the hull of the satellite, so... I toss shit at the sky."
My reference to 'other things' didn't phase Heero, maybe I was being too subtle or he was just playing dumb. He went into the shack, came back with my hat, and handed it to me. "I was doing an inventory," he told me. "We should finish it together and send off the amended report to who ever you choose as your accountant."
"Credits," I reminded him sourly. "I have zero for accountants."
Heero had a plan. I could see it on his face. In fact, he was excited about it. My paranoia suddenly floundered. Just then, I could see, as plain as day, Heero's eagerness to help me and his enthusiasm for the challenge. He wouldn't look like that if he was scamming me, would he?
Hope was poking it's grinning head up again. My street instincts wanted a mallet to smash it back down. I didn't have one handy though, so Hope came out, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. God, I could be such a sucker... well, when it came to Heero, I amended. I wanted to believe in him. I wanted...
"If we work together," Heero said, "We can be done quickly. Once we know what you have, then we can sort out the most saleable parts, fix them, and put them on the market."
I snorted. "What do we put inventory on, our fingers and toes? My laptop was stolen, remember?"
Heero pulled out a small, handheld computer from his pocket. The thing was as small and as thin as a credit card.
"Do you use that to keep touch with the agents watching us?" I was mad, okay? He'd hidden that from Duo Maxwell, street smart, gundam pilot. It made me wonder what else he had managed to keep from me. I'm not good at keeping my emotions inside. I was never good at subtle or holding the cards until the right moment. If I had them, I played them, and waited to see how the chips fell.
Heero's face looked puzzled and then set hard as he figured out what I was talking about. "We are not being monitored."
"No?" I arched a cinnamon eyebrow at him, the one that told him I wasn't eating that shit up. "You aren't armed. You aren't the kind of guy to do that unless you know you have backup."
"Do scrap men have weapons?" Heero wanted to know, but I could tell he already knew the answer.
"Not usually," I replied with a growl.
"Do they often work with a glock stuck in the back of their jeans?" Heero persisted almost coldly. When I looked away, scowling and flushing, he replied for me. "No, they don't. I'm undercover. I can't have a weapon. That's taking a chance, I know, but this is a sting operation that will take time to develop. I can't afford to have someone question me. As for being monitored. That's out of the question. The people we are trying to arrest might question our interest in the scrap yards on L2."
My eyes widened and I looked at him sharply. "You mean... it goes up that high?" When he nodded, I whistled. "Nobody's dared go after them before Heero. That's damned dangerous."
"It is," Heero agreed and then looked troubled, "Which is why I wished that I had protested more when it was suggested that we tap you for the sting. I thought-"
I grimaced. "You thought I wasn't too far down on the food chain from them, I know. " My face cleared then as it hit me, Heero had just exonerated himself and I was the dickhead with the overactive paranoia. That deserved a... "I'm sorry, okay?" I rubbed at the back of my neck nervously. "I've had a rough life. Trust isn't something I indulge in often." Okay, not at all, but he didn't have to be told that.
Heero relaxed and he gave me that smile, the one that made me feel real good inside. "I shouldn't expect anything else," he said. "We didn't start out very well."
"You can sure as shit say that again!" I grumbled and then nodded at the piles of scrap. "Should we get started?"
"Duo..." Maybe Heero was going to apologize for that rough beginning. I cut him off.
"Forget about it, Heero," I told him as I began walking to a pile, "Done is done. If you stop and dwell on that stuff it drags you down and under. A guy has to keep looking forward. I'm sorry, you're sorry, so everything is okay."
And it was. No, I didn't trust him completely, but, as we scrambled and sweated over my inventory, I knew I was as close to it as I could get.
Heero, was meticulous and focused. I was all over the place, getting distracted by every little thing and, basically, just getting overwhelmed by it all. He kept me on track, kept me from wandering from pile to pile, and mapped out a system. I had looked at everything and judged it 'endless'. He had looked at it and judged it 'doable in short order'. Heero showed me very quickly that he was right. We didn't count every scrap, as I had feared. Instead, we estimated, and concentrated on getting the larger, more expensive, items on the lot counted. Machinery was easy. I had one crane with a bucket claw and an interchangeable grappler. It did the work of the machines that I had never been able to afford. What it didn't do, though, had to be made up in backbreaking hand labor. I saw Heero look over the rusted, on it's last legs monstrosity, and then look at me before he entered a low ball value.
I really hate pity, always have, always will. It was like the spike in a coffin, you're already dead, now let's desecrate the corpse. It made my temper flare instantaneously. I wanted to yell at Heero, say something to make myself feel better, but... I didn't. What the hell was there to say? There had to be a redeeming quality somewhere in order to have a comeback. I couldn't think of anything.
We finished just after midday cycle and I stood stupidly, wiping sweat and dirt off my face with my bandana, hardly believing it, as Heero tallied everything up. When he looked up, I expected the worst. I wasn't ready for him to look pleased.
"You have some very saleable machines here," he told me. "They're just in pieces. If we gather all of those pieces together, we can rebuild them and have a tidy sum to recharge your credits."
I blinked at him. "Pieces?"
Heero waved to the scrap heaps as he finished his entries. "You have them scattered everywhere. I took notes on each machine part I spotted and added them to a running tally as we worked."
"I... I guess I'm a lot more unorganized than I thought." I'd been sitting on money and hadn't known it. That Heero had to point it out to me... me, a damned scrap man... It was harder to swallow than pity. I said, a bit defensive, "Maybe they were unworkable parts and that's why I never bothered?"
Heero looked up and, finally, saw how strung tight I was. "That could be. Duo...," He paused and chose his words carefully, not wanting me to get even more upset. "This isn't a one man operation. You deserve a lot of credit for taking the business as far as you did, considering the level of competition."
I let out a little breath, my anger escaping like steam out of a pressure cooker. I hid under the brim of my hat. "Yeah, thanks..." My pride wasn't going to be picky about what bones it was thrown.
"Look, Duo," Heero began, acting unsure. "Is it all right if we wait another day to clean the other shack? I think we should get these parts together and in working order as soon as possible."
"Why should I mind?" I wondered.
"You didn't sleep very well," Heero pointed out. "My presence must be bothering you."
I was in love with the brim of my hat. It hid a lot, including the scalding blush across my face. The ground had suddenly become very interesting. Oh, look, fine particles of metal. I wonder what that did to a man's lungs? Okay, think, think, think... I can't say, 'You're so damned everything I ever wanted in a man, I couldn't stop ogling you.' It had to be more... reasonable and less... threatening. I didn't want Heero to suddenly find the porch, or my office desk, more comfortable than being in the same room with me. Ah, I think I had it and it was kind of the truth... "Seeing you again, talking like we did last night," I explained, "It made me remember the war. I had some nightmares. I don't expect that to keep happening though, so, yeah, you can hang in my place a few extra days. If we don't start making credits, neither of us is going to have to worry about which shack we're in, we won't have a lot to stay in."
"Agreed," Heero said and he made me feel like I was a genius with that one word, like I had just calculated Pi to the nth degree while standing on my head whistling... Jeez! I had it bad! I used to hate people who hung on someone like this. I used to call them stupid, moron, gullible...
Heero pocketed his computer and began climbing up a pile of scrap to reach whatever he had spotted there earlier. All thoughts of what an idiot I really was, went out of my head. Heero was wearing blue jeans, faded and dirty, but they were tight across his ass and I had a good view of that as he climbed to a point above me. I also had a good view of-
"Help me get this out?" Heero called down.
I had to shake myself out of my horn dog, glazed, coma. "Uh... coming... uhm... I mean, be right there." I was really getting used to blushing now, but that blush combined with a sudden attack of 'what the hell?' when I saw Heero look down at me and... smirk. He... he had caught my slip, my inner raunchy thoughts revealed in one stupid word, and he was... not mad... not uncomfortable.. not ready to punch me. He had smirked.
The smirk went away as he frowned down at the twenty pound hunk of machine half buried in rusted junk. "It won't move," he told me, all business now. "If we pull together... but we have to be careful. This pile isn't that stable."
I eyed the pile that went up another six feet, some of it was heavy. "Get down and I'll get the claw. I'll shift some of this to another pile," I suggested.
He nodded as he wiped sweat from his brow. His hair hung in strands over those dark, blue eyes and a slight burn was starting to pink his cheeks. I blurted it, the question that I just couldn't keep inside, a question I had never though to ask Heero Yuy, supposed worshiper of Relena Peacecraft. "Are you gay, Heero?"
Heero laughed, his eyes twinkling at me. "I always envied that about you; fearless, uncaring of consequences."
I blinked and smiled at him daringly. "Well?"
Heero paused, adjusted the brim of his hat, and then said, looking out across my scrap lot, "Do you remember back at Preventer headquarters... when the doctor was looking at your magazines?"
I grunted. "Yes."
Heero paused again and then the pink on his cheeks grew brighter. "That issue he was holding... it was my favorite too."
I gaped, I laughed, and then we got back to work with a new understanding.
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