IF IT AIN’T BROKE
2+3 (2+1, 3+4 background), friendship, slight sap
Duo sat back on his heels, pushing his hair off his forehead. In his left hand he held a couple of lengths of spliced wire and three – unmatched – leather gloves; in his right, he held a foot-rule snapped off at the eight inch mark, several marbles and a torn cover from a thermal underwear catalogue. Women’s.
Trowa peered over the top of his reading glasses at the booty. “Is that the extent of your tool kit, Maxwell?”
Duo grimaced. “Very amusing. This is just a selection of the crap I found down the back of the box. Something had knocked out the SCART socket. No wonder you can’t get a picture. I’ve cleaned it up and reconnected it, and you should be fine now.”
Trowa looked at the selection of screwdrivers he had in his hand. “And Quatre tried to tell me it was something to do with the local oscillator.”
“It’s a giant plasma screen, not an old style TV set. He’ll be talking about RGB inputs next. They say you shouldn’t buy the kit unless you know the fit,” said Duo drily, then he caught Trowa’s eye. “Sorry. Didn’t mean Quat’s an idiot or anything.”
Trowa shrugged. “’S OK. We all can be, in our way. It’s just that Quatre’s particular mental block is about domestic appliances. Mine is… hmmm.” He paused and rolled his eyes thoughtfully to the ceiling.
“Like you’re Mr Perfect?” grumbled Duo. “I think not. Seem to remember you stapling your thumb to a chair when we did up the spare room last summer.”
Trowa grimaced back. “Well, you’re not so great a plumber, as I recall. That night we were meant to come over to watch the game but ended up baling out your bathroom with buckets and jugs…”
Duo shrugged, grinning. “OK, fair enough. Could be worse, of course. It could be -”
“Heero’s cooking,” murmured Trowa, just as Duo finished his sentence with “-Heero’s cooking.”
They caught each other’s eye again and they grinned. Duo shifted the equipment back into place and brushed the excess dirt off his hands.
“You want a beer?” Trowa collected a couple of cans from the kitchen and brought them into the lounge. He watched Duo tune in a couple of missing channels and they settled on the couch together, opening their drinks. Trowa flicked away on the remote, not really settling on anything in particular.
Duo waited a couple of minutes until the silence stated to nag at him. “So what’s up? Don’t tell me it’s missing a couple of episodes of your favourite game show.”
Trowa snorted. “I’m fine,” he said, but he shifted on the couch as if something were itching his back.
“You and Quatre?” When Trowa turned and glared at him, Duo held his hand up in mock surrender. “Hey, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine -”
Trowa sighed. “No, sorry. You’re my best friend after Quat. But we’re fine, OK? Just a couple of recent… misunderstandings.”
Duo sipped thoughtfully, giving Trowa a chance to say some more. Which he didn’t. “Is it the money thing again?”
Trowa nodded. Duo nodded back. It was enough. They both took another sip.
“It’ll pass,” Duo said. “Couple of arguments are good for getting the adrenalin going. Maybe you should talk to him about it some more, though.” When Trowa still said nothing, he felt a sharp twist of alarm. “I mean – you’re not seriously -?”
“God, no,” Trowa hastened to reassure him. “We’re good. Very good.”
“Pleased to hear it,” said Duo. He settled back into his seat; took a decent draught from the can. They were comfortably silent for another few minutes.
“Heero looked a little pissed last Saturday,” said Trowa, quietly. The TV was flashing through some diamante bracelets on one of the shopping channels.
Duo shrugged. “Yeah. He was. But it’s passed.”
Trowa nodded. “I’ll get us another beer.” When he came back, Duo was examining the movie trailers rather too closely.
“You were quiet, too,” Trowa said. “Unusual for you.”
Duo sighed. “Yeah, it was the same old, same old. I talk too much, he has to have words peeled out of him with a sharp tool. We had words. Well, I did, and he left the room. Just all gets on top of me sometimes.”
“Him as well, I imagine,” murmured Trowa. “Maybe you should change your approach sometimes, too.”
Duo looked at him, sharply. “Like Quatre says the same about you. Also says you’re a fool to worry so much about your differences.”
Trowa raised an eyebrow, but he nodded again.
“You’re just very different guys,” Duo said. Trowa’s eyes snapped up to him. “No offence,” he added.
“None taken.” Trowa sighed. “You’re right. But then – you two are, as well. And it’s passed, you said?” Duo grunted agreement.
“Good,” Trowa murmured. “Damned good.”
They both dropped their gaze to the can in their hands. The TV trumpeted some new model of car and the benefits of a shampoo being ‘because you’re worth it’.
Duo tapped the thin metal, apparently aimlessly. “Of course, that’s what makes it so good. The differences. Right?”
Trowa looked across at him again. He had his own thoughts, his own theories, but his grin was as wide as Duo’s. “Right.”
“He pushes all the buttons I used to keep hidden,” said Duo, thoughtfully. His eyes sparkled when he smiled. “Living with someone else… suddenly you have to be alert in all new ways. Life bounces off you both and comes back at you a whole different play. He’s… challenging like that.”
“He makes me laugh harder, work harder, makes me question every damned thing about me.” Trowa seemed pretty content with his analysis.
“He annoys the crap out of me,” Duo added, still grinning. They turned to each other and raised their cans in a comic toast. “Look at us,” he laughed. “Nodding like a couple of old guys on the front porch.”
“Speak for yourself,” growled Trowa. He adjusted the glasses that had slipped slightly down his nose. He stabbed the remote at the TV, killing the volume on a thrash metal music channel.
Duo waved his nearly empty can at the screen. “Anyway, it’s good to clear the cobwebs out now and then.”
“Like behind the TV box,” said Trowa, drily.
“Yeah.” Duo wriggled around on the couch, restless. “And the make-up sessions are worth it, too. But you know what they say.”
“Your turn to get the beers.”
Duo heaved himself up, laughing. “No. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Trowa rolled his eyes. But he was smiling.