Heero found Duo sitting on the back door step, surrounded by scattered tools and a selection of oily rags. He wasn’t moving much except for the aimless swinging of a spanner from between three fingers of his left hand.

Heero hunkered down beside him. “Did it go OK?”

Duo grunted. He let the spanner fall with a clatter to the ground.

Heero let himself down to sitting. “That’s a ‘no’ then?”

Duo expanded his grunt, grudgingly, though he didn’t turn his head. “Fuel tank’s holed. Nearside bodywork crumpled like paper.”

“That can be repaired –“

“Drive shaft sheered off,” Duo snapped. Heero bit his lip in the ensuing silence.

“OK, so leave it for the day and we’ll look at it again tomorrow. Things may be different then.”

“And the pigs may be flying all the way to San Francisco,” muttered Duo.

Heero raised an eyebrow. “So what else?”

“Huh?” Duo’s eyes flickered towards him then back again.

“What else is wrong?” Heero persisted, though gently.

Duo leant back on the step, resting his head against the kitchen door. He sighed, but didn’t speak.

Heero looked carefully at his frown. “You didn’t get the permanent job.” It was statement more than question. Duo shrugged. “There’ll be another one, Duo. It wasn’t the best thing for you, really. You weren’t even sure you wanted it in the first place.”

“Doesn’t mean I liked being told I wasn’t being given the choice. I need the regular money.”

Heero leant back with him. “Ahh… so I guess the check bounced.”

Duo grimaced. “I said that guy was unreliable. I should’ve listened to myself and never taken on that contract.”

“But at least you made him pay most of the job in advance. You got most of your money for it.”

“Yeah. Most being the operative word.”

There was another short silence. Heero stretched a little and his hand fell casually on to the step between them.

“Ripped my favourite jeans doing that job,” said Duo, almost conversationally.

Heero winced. “Guess we can patch them…”

“Oh, and Hilde called –“

“Did she?” Heero searched for some brightening of Duo’s expression. “How is she and her new guy -?”

“We argued.” Duo sighed again. “I told her he wasn’t doing enough for her now she’s pregnant. She told me to take my head for a shit.”

Heero’s turn to sigh this time. “She’s hormonal. She’s happy with him. You should bear that in mind…”

“Fuck of a lot of things I should do,” grumbled Duo. “But fuck up.”

“Fuck of a lot of things you do do,” murmured Heero. “And do well.”

Duo was silent again. When Heero slid his hand over the top of his, he didn’t pull away. “Why is it all such a struggle, Heero? Why does it all go to shit for me?”

Heero thought carefully before he answered, but first he closed his fingers over Duo’s, holding him. “It doesn’t. It just feels like that now. It’s been a bad day.”

“Bad year,” growled Duo. “Bad millennium.”

Heero smiled. “Sure. And I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.”

Duo also started to smile, then seemed to remember the bad mood he was in. “Don’t try with the platitudes, man. I’m bad news for you, too.”

“No you’re not,” Heero replied, quietly confident.

“Never take you anywhere. Never got any money; always working. Always moaning.”

“Well, yeah, that’s true,” replied Heero, quite cheerily. “But I deal with it. Practice helps.”

Duo twisted his head round to peer at him. “Can’t seem to shake off that relentless bonhomie of yours, can I?”

“That’s the effect you have on me,” smiled Heero. He lifted his arm and slipped it over Duo’s shoulders. “It’s good to come around and see you. Good to be with you. Even with a face like that.”

Duo grunted again, shaking his head, though his lips were obviously testing the waters of another, more robust smile. “The worst is yet to come, Heero.”

Hn?” Heero tangled his fingers into the tousled hair at Duo’s neck and watched the way his lover instinctively arched back against it like a caress. It was one of the many things he could watch happily for hours. “So what else? You drowned some puppies by mistake? The FBI calling after supper? Relena suing you for child maintenance?”

“Ha-fucking-ha.” But Duo was grinning broadly now and there was a soft pink flush to his cheeks, just above the oily smear under his nose. “Grey, Heero.”

“Grey what?”

“Hair. Grey hair, Heero. I found one in the braid this morning. Fuck, I’m only twenty three and I’m fucking geriatric already –“

Heero was laughing aloud and Duo felt his shoulders shaking against his own. It felt like they were sharing more than the humour. He felt warmer, somehow.

But he still protested. “Hey, man, maybe I don’t see it as one huge joke –“

“You think I only want the new model? The perfect physique? The equable mood?”


Heero twisted Duo’s head round and kissed him, soundly. Duo’s body tensed and pressed up against him; his boot nudged at the discarded spanner, kicking it further away. They snaked arms round each other and relaxed enthusiastically into the embrace.

When they came up for air, there was an oily smear on Heero’s cheek, too. Duo drew a deep breath, both of pleasure and of relief. “Sorry. You do it for me every time. Haul me out of the gloom without ever actually saying ‘get over it’.”

Heero leant in for some more kissing. “It’s not important. None of it. But the thing that is -“ He slipped his tongue into Duo’s mouth, teasing more out of his smile. “Well, that’s the thing I don’t want you to get over.”