Tin Soldiers

Chapter 3: Stir It Up
by Kracken

Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of them.
Warnings: Male/Male sex, graphic, language, violence.

Tin Soldier's Series
Sequel to Sunshine

Stir It Up

So, I had my day of doing nothing. I was young, it was a beach, there were scantily clad bodies everywhere, and everything went on the Winner account. It should have been a recipe for instant bliss. Instead, I found myself haunting my new home, working on my mountain of empty soda cans, and seeing how many places delivered to a bungalow on the beach. I interspersed that with sleeping and staring off into space thinking about... well, you know who. I couldn't get Mr. Sullen's blue eyes out of my thoughts no matter how distracting the scenery outside my window was.

"You are such a dumbshit!" I pinched my arm hard to punish my own stupidity.

Pacing the small living space in my shorts, and a tee shirt that barely covered me to the navel, I stopped in front of the one mirror; a full length job nailed to the back of the bathroom door. I glared at my reflection. Long legs, wiry build, nice, rounded shoulders, an ass that wouldn't quit, and a face... well, I didn't have to be vain about that. Enough people have told me that I'm pretty damned handsome.

"I can have anyone."

Yeah, I was talking to the room. Can we say, 'Duo Maxwell has issues?' Well, you spend a lot of time alone and see if you don't start talking to your four walls too. What was stupid about that, though, was that I didn't have to be alone. I'm funny. I'm charming. I'm handsome. I'm a good friend. I'm the kind of guy anyone would want to hang out with. If I had wanted it, I could have had a long list of parties and get togethers on my itinerary. Like that word? 'Itinerary?' I picked it up from Quatre. Of course, I had to look it up to see what it meant. Why can't the guy just say 'calendar' or 'schedule' like everyone else? Oh, okay, I'm straying from the subject. Let's get back to why my life is so sorry assed lonely. It's pretty simple, really, I'm not just a friendly smile and a good hand shaker. I'm an ex terrorist. I've killed more people than you probably see on a city street in a week. If you don't think that leaves some marks, or that it doesn't get you a reputation, I've got news for you! Being introduced as, Mr. Maxwell, one of the Gundam pilots who fought in the war, is almost always followed up by people making a wide space around you and asking about their coats and car keys. Partying with a killer is not usually on anyone's itinerary ... sorry, I just love using that word.

So, my schedule is pretty much open. I get other ex soldiers who want to rub elbows from time to time, but they always want to trade war stories and I try and stay clear of that shit. Then you have freaks who think it's thrilling to be around someone as 'dangerous' as me. I get the' my skin is crawling' feeling pretty quick. I do get people who honestly don't think about the past, and just take me for what I am, but they are pretty few and far between. I laid a couple, made friends out of some more, but I always managed to say or do something, eventually, that made the hair stand up on the heads of those innocent souls. They never stayed around long after that. I can't blame them either. When you think you're friends with a happy go lucky cat, and you suddenly have the wool over your eyes yanked off to reveal the bloody tiger underneath, you tend to start thinking about getting away from the big claws.

So, 'normal' people were out as potential friends. That left only the people I had fought a war with. That carried it's own kind of baggage. We were friends, we had 'get togethers' but we didn't stay together long. Quatre was the one closest to me, with Trowa, of course, being a close second... though, I have to say, what he thinks of me is some kind of deep dark secret, because he hardly talks and he has a smile that could mean just freaking ANYTHING. I used to think it was a 'cat with cream' kind of smile, and who wouldn't be smiling like that if they were getting some on a regular basis with the most important man in space and on Earth? The richest guy anywhere? A guy who really, really loved him? I guess I sort of respected Trowa for not taking advantage of that. He stayed with his circus, doing special assignments for the Preventers only once in awhile. I never saw him do anything flashy money wise. I don't think I could have been that pure. I'd like to think that I had it in me, but... Well, let's not go there. I have enough to think about without examining my morals too. Back to my friends...

Wu Fei is a nice guy, a bit up tight, a bit of a temper, but, on the whole, not a bad guy at all. I used to wonder why the doctors had chosen maladjusted, fifteen year old, homosexuals for Gundam pilots, but, after meeting Wu Fei, my intricate theories on the subject had been blasted into space dust. Wu Fei's a complicated personality and, for awhile, he didn't have eyes for anyone but his Gundam. After we destroyed them, though, he turned into a different kind of guy. He went back to school, became a bit of a scholar, and dabbled in special forces.It did a lot towards getting him at least to the outskirts of 'normal'. That's more than I can say for the rest of us. A circus clown, a Preventer Agent daredevil, and a man who owns just about EVERYTHING don't even flirt with 'normal' I'm afraid.

You're probably thinking, 'What about Heero?', but there is a reason why I left ole' Heero out. I wasn't sure just what he'd been doing all this time. Military ops, most likely, because the guy could never stop from riding the edge during the war. I couldn't see him punching a nine to five clock, selling insurance, now. A guy like that wouldn't have jumped at Quatre's offer anyway.

Yeah, I know, I've been happily deluding myself all of this time about what Heero was like. I probably shouldn't try to pretend to be an expert now. He'd found me groping and being groped by that beach bum, forget that I tried to remember that I wasn't a slut after the fact. Heero was probably thinking some pretty shitty things about me right now. Maybe he'd had some false notion of what I was like too and he'd had his bubble bust as rudely as I had? It would explain the attitude he had copped, the one that had burned off a few layers of my self esteem and had burned my illusions about him to a crisp.

"Bet you're lonely too," I said to the angry image of Heero in my head. "You didn't even try and keep us guys as friends. You just went off and did your own thing. Maybe, now, you get that we're all there is for each other? Maybe that's why you decided on this assignment? Maybe you wanted to start a new life just like me?" I studied the angry face in my memory and then I groaned and threw myself face down on the bed, running smack dab into a possibility that I didn't want to acknowledge. Maybe Heero really WAS an asshole.

I decided that my next impression wasn't going to be a bad one. If Heero Yuy was going to decide that I wasn't worth the air I was breathing, then it was going to be because he was a jerk, not because of anything I was going to do. Quatre had said not to mind him, that Heero's opinion wasn't going to change his mind about having me on staff, but... I couldn't help wondering about that. In a situation where lives depended on me being able to do my job right, I couldn't see Quatre not being cautious, not second guessing his decision if someone like Heero had something negative to say.

I remember Heero being a perfectionist during the war. The guy never cut himself any slack. I'd seen what he was capable of when he had thought that he hadn't completed a mission. It sent a chill up my spine even now, remembering how he had jumped from a high building and simply fallen, trying to commit suicide for his failure. I think that the only thing that had stopped him that day, had been Relena Peacecraft screaming his name, reminding him of his larger mission, the one where he had pledged himself to defend peace. I was glad, then, that I'd saved that silly girl's life, if for nothing more than to have a voice that could screech loud enough where a falling man, six floors down, could hear.

If a man like Heero voiced an opinion that Duo Maxwell was an idiot, who not only couldn't control himself, but had been unable to defend himself against one untrained beach boy, then people were going to listen, even if they did have trouble believing it. I couldn't help being pissed off about that. Here I had thought that training the men would be the hard part. I hadn't planned on having to prove myself on top of it, or having to deal with the military version of 'office politics'. Quatre was going to be between a rock and a hard place. He couldn't afford to lose either Heero or me, so he was going to have to listen to Heero, and make Heero feel that his opinion was valued, while not piling on me and letting me know that Heero's opinion was full of shit. Okay, Quatre WOULDN'T think that last part, but I'm mad enough to want to keep calling Heero every damned thing in the book. Does it make me feel better? Hell no! It just keeps twisting that razor point of disappointment right into my gut.

So, I didn't spend my last hours of free time basking in the sun and trying to convince my body to change its internal clock, I spent it, instead, worrying about what I was going to wear the next day and practicing what I was going to say to Heero in the mirror. Pretty damned pathetic, right? I really did need to find things to say, though, that didn't sound like melodramatic soap opera spiel. I kept hearing a whine in my voice, hurt, pure and simple, and an accusing tone that sounded as if I was a jilted lover demanding... But, God! I really did feel that way! As much as it makes me sound like a dumb ass, I was hurting and I did feel like a devoted lover that had suddenly gotten a crack across the face. Even though it had all been in my mind, and it wasn't Heero's fault that I had built my personal life around a vid image, I still couldn't help that overwhelming sense of betrayal. That feeling kept me awake for most of the night.

When morning came at last, I rolled out of bed and tried to convince myself that I knew what I was doing. I pulled on my black dress pants, a white, button down shirt, and my black ankle boots. I slung my briefcase over one shoulder, a black leather satchel that contained a sandwich for lunch, change for soda, a few video games, a couple of pens, and a pad of paper that was covered with far more random doodles than any real information, and then checked my look in the mirror one more time. Okay, I'll have to admit right now that I'd done the 'mirror check' so many times that morning that I was ready to check myself into a psych ward for obsessive compulsive behavior. I was that determined to make a better impression.

As I looked myself over, promising myself irritably that this was THE last time, I couldn't help thinking, 'You look like a damned geek.' I did. A handsome geek, but still a geek. That particular look didn't suit me at all. I liked casual clothes, jeans with holes at the knees, t-shirts with band logos and smart assed sayings, boots, cargo shorts, and tanks. Right then, I looked like I belonged in school. 'Sorry, I didn't get my calculus homework done, Sister Mary Margeritte, the dog ate it.' I was a kickass Gundam pilot, dammit! I unbuttoned the top of my shirt and changed my boots to the silver ones with the gunmetal buckles. They looked almost like army boots, over large with steel toes. They made me look edgy. I grinned at my reflection. Screw geekdom.

There was a firm knock on my door. I refused to check my look again, took a deep breath, and went to open it. There, in the doorway, stood Heero Yuy dressed in a black and white business suit and dark sunglasses. His car keys were fisted in one hand and he gave me a slow, measuring look up and down.

"I'm here to drive you to the installation," Heero announced with a coldness that could have made an iceberg shiver.

I had only one thought, 'Aw! Shit!' and I realized that I wasn't ready for this at all.

Say something intelligent, Maxwell, I shouted inwardly at myself. Instead, I found myself stammering, "Uh, okay, but... " I stopped, not sure how to make sentences suddenly. It was the dark sunglasses, I decided numbly, they covered up the only part of Heero that could have given me some hint of how he was feeling towards me. His face wasn't any help at all. It was like sanded stone; completely blank. I searched for something, some clue, needing something to tell me where I stood with this man.

"Do you have an objection?" Heero prompted and I felt my face go hot. "Quatre told me that you didn't have a car. If you've made other arrangements for transportation...?"

"No," I managed to get out and then found something to say. "I'm just surprised that he sent you instead of one of his thousands of staff members."

"I was given a place down the beach from yours by Quatre, " Heero explained. "I am a more logical choice than sending a man all the way from the installation."

"Uh, yeah, I can understand that," I replied nervously and then kicked myself, hard, mentally, right in the ass. This wasn't going well. If I didn't find something to say that sounded more intelligent than vacuum, then my second impression was going to be worse than my first... You can shut up now, I KNOW there isn't much that could be worse than the first impression, but I'm trying to forget about that, okay?

Heero checked his watch. "We need to go. We have exactly twenty minutes to reach the installation before Quatre's meeting begins."

I mentally checked my internal map and raised an eyebrow. "That's cutting it close. If there's traffic, we're screwed." I mentally winced. Great going, Maxwell! Start off by chewing out the guy you're trying to impress.

I didn't think that stone could manage to look more stone like or that blank could have an even blanker expression, but Heero managed it. His cold voice said, "I have allowed for variables, but if you continue to waste time, then we will be late."

"Oh, okay, sorry about that. Let's get going then." I hid behind a stream of words, one tripping over the other, as I hitched my satchel higher on my shoulder and motioned Heero to lead the way to his car. I imagined a glare from behind those dark sunglasses of Heero's before he turned and walked briskly along a pebble walkway to a paved area where the residents of the small, beach community parked.

Shit! Shit! Shit! I swore at myself, get a grip. He's just a guy like you. He brushes his teeth. He eats, drinks, takes a dump, and wears.... I studied the line that showed against the material of his pants. Heero Yuy wears briefs. Imagining him without the pants, standing in his briefs, I felt an instant hard on. Could it get any worse? Apparently it had. I let my satchel drop and clasped it against the front of my pants. This could NOT be happening to me! Heero was treating me like a complete waste of space, acting like a total asshole, and doing a really good imitation of deep freeze. Nothing about that man should have made a rocket in my pocket.

When we reached Heero's car, I saw that it was a very expensive, very sleek, model. What else? It seemed that Heero had picked up a sense of style. Remembering his penchant for lime green tank tops and spandex during the war, and his unwillingness to even comb his hair, I had to wonder what had motivated him to change... yeah, even as I was wondering how to make Mr. Excitable in my pants calm down.

As I opened the passenger side door and slipped inside, I quickly looked at the contents of Heero's car before Heero could walk around it and get into the driver's seat. Computer, of course. Space link, double of course. Cds... alternative... I read the titles over again. It was all loud, experimental, on the cutting edge music. I blinked. I had heard some of the bands by complete accident. I wouldn't have listened willingly to that kind of stuff on my own. Seeing that Heero liked it, confused me... yeah, even more than I already was. For some reason, I had pictured him... well, not liking music at all. I'd never heard him listen to any... or do anything else for pleasure come to think of it.

Heero got in and I pretended complete innocence with my satchel in my lap, congratulating myself on losing an uncomfortable bulge, while he started up the car and pulled out of the parking lot. Unfortunately, I had congratulated myself too soon. You gotta know that young guys get erections just watching paint dry. I was older though, dammit, and I expect a bit more control out of myself, especially in such a very tense situation. Other guys understand, really they do, but when a guy is with another guy, and one of them gets excited, the other one has to wonder what he's getting excited about. If one guy is straight, then he's pretty much hoping it isn't because of him. Depending on the level of the straight guy's tolerance for the homosexual part of that scenario, one can expect said homosexual to get anything from an uncomfortable look to a full blown punch in the face. Not sure about Heero's feelings about guys like me, I wasn't going to lift up my satchel and let Heero see that Mr. Excitable was now going crazy over the scent of his after shave.

Women's perfume makes me ill. It's always cloying, perfumey, or musky, and it's geared toward exciting a whole 'nother set of sexual urges than what I've got. Men's cologne and aftershave, on the other hand, is another thing entirely. The scent is rich, sexy, masculine, and complete sensory candy to my hormones. I found myself shifting uncomfortably in my black, leather chair and trying to see Heero out of the corner of my eye while I pretended to look at the scenery passing by. The combination of the smell of cologne, black leather, pressed, business suit, and Heero's extremely handsome looks, was enough to make me feel like one huge arousal.

'You are such a dumbass!' the little voice inside of my head sneered, only it wasn't that little right then. I knew Heero was so far out of my reach, he might as well have been on Mars colony. I had no chance, now way, with Mr. Freeze. I was going to be lucky if I even developed a working relationship with the man. Even that was going to get blown out of the water if I didn't stop staring at the way his blue eyes caught the light like sun on deep water and the way his broad, strong hands gripped the leather covered steering wheel.

"So, I heard that you were working for Relena Peacecraft at one point," I said, desperate for anything to distract myself as I rolled down the window and took a lung full of fresh salt laden, air. Letting it out and catching the scent of dead fish, I wrinkled my nose gratefully and added, "I guess that didn't work out for you." When I turned my head to see Heero's expression, I caught his glance at me.

Heero's eyes were Goddamn laser beams! I could feel them burn my skin off right through his sunglasses as he replied almost viciously, "That is none of your business." He went back to staring ahead at the road, but his hands on the steering wheel were tense and white.

I went cold. I had the feeling that my life had just been spared. I had stepped on a Heero Yuy land mine, a big one, and lived to tell about it. I remembered to breathe and sank a bit in my seat. Well, I didn't have to worry about that second impression anymore, or my erection for that matter. It had gone as cold and cringing as the rest of me. Good work, Maxwell, I said to myself, go get your first prize for being able to stick the biggest foot in your damn mouth.

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