Author: Sissani

Pairings: 1x2, 3x4 (implied)

Rating: PG-13

Warnings: shonen ai, imlied yaoi, mild language

Word Count: 23,258

Summary: After Heero's car breaks down and he meets an intriguing mechanic, he learns there is more to his life, and himself, than he originally thought

In The Memory Part 1

Every morning at precisely six am, Heero Yuy would awake with a start. He would roll over and turn off the alarm clock, then lie on his back, staring at the ceiling and listening to the renewed silence. His apartment was always quiet but that stillness, after the buzzing sliced through the air to wake him, was different. He enjoyed those moments of thick calm. Before getting out of bed he stared at that white ceiling for exactly two minutes. And it was with great reluctance that he rose to face another monotonous day.

What followed was a ritual ten minute shower, towel drying of his hair and brushing his teeth. He never brushed his hair - the dark mess remained unruly despite any efforts to tame it. After brushing his teeth he inspected himself in the bathroom mirror, studying his own face for several minutes. He looked into his own midnight blue eyes and a sigh escaped his lips. Then he returned to the bedroom where his clothes for the day, having been laid out the night before, awaited him, neatly folded on the chair in the corner.

As routine dictated, after getting dressed Heero went to the kitchen and ate his breakfast. It was always the same - two pieces of toast and a glass of enriched orange juice. He nibbled the toast and sipped the juice while sitting at his laptop and lazily reading the news. At exactly six forty-five, he closed his laptop and grabbed his keys, ready to make the morning commute to work.

It took Heero an average of ten minutes, depending on traffic, to drive to the Preventers Headquarters, where he worked diligently (and safely from behind his desk) fighting terrorism five days a week. He parked in the parking garage on the third level, always taking the same spot near the elevators. Entering the building, he nodded at Sarah, the receptionist, and continued to his office on the seventh floor. He shared an office with Wufei Chang, and as he entered their office they nodded at each other in silent greeting. His Chinese friend was always busy at his desk by the time Heero arrived, and always had a file or two for Heero to begin work on.

This was how it always was, Heero going through the same motions, day in and day out, as if he himself had been programmed like the technology he worked on. This was his life. It was a familiar rhythm that he rarely diverged from.

On this particular Monday, Heero went through his usual patterns and the day seemed like any other. He woke up, watched the ceiling, took his shower, got dressed, ate his breakfast, went to work and clocked out at exactly four pm. Just as always.

It was then, on his way home from work, that the day took him from the path of normalcy.

Heero was stopped at a red light, idly tapping his thumbs on the steering wheel. His car hummed softly and music emanated from the radio, Heero's dancing thumbs matching the cadence of its beat. The light turned green and he pressed down on the pedal. The gentle drone of the car faltered and the car gave a violent jerk. A quiet sputtering sounded from under the hood and Heero frowned. He turned off the engine and restarted it, the car hesitantly coming back to life. He drove on a few more blocks before the car lurched again and the strange noise returned. The faint smell of rusted metal began wafting through the dashboard, and, cursing, Heero pulled the car to the curb.

Curious and beginning to worry, he turned off the engine, got out of the car and popped the hood. As he looked upon the complicated workings of the engine, he scratched his head and swatted his hand at the haze of steam that rose from it. The stench of burning surrounded him and he knew trying to inspect the machine himself was no good. Give him a computer and he could work out any problem that presented itself, but when it came to cars and engines, he had no clue. He sighed in frustration and took his cell phone out of his pocket, quickly dialing information. The operator gave Heero the number to S/M Towing, Repair and Salvage, and he made the call, forcefully pushing each button in frustration.

No more than fifteen minutes passed as Heero waited, leaning on the bumper of his car, until a large white truck pulled up in front of Heero. On its side, in royal green script, was the emblem of the company. Loud music raged from the truck, the booming bass causing Heero's chest to vibrate. It stopped suddenly as the driver got out and jumped from the truck.

Heero blinked at the man that walked towards him. There was nothing extraordinary about him; he was average height and of medium build. His eyes were hidden behind sunglasses and he wore the stereotypical faded blue mechanic jumpsuit. But what caught Heero's eye was the hair - a long auburn braid trailed from the man's head, drifting down to hang at his rear end. It glinted in the artificial sun of the colony, shining like brown silk.

"Having some trouble?"

Knocked out of his thoughts, Heero nodded and stepped aside to let the man do his job.

The man walked forward and peered under the hood, waving his hand in an attempt to clear the steam as Heero had done. "Well that doesn't look good," he said. He leaned over the car and began tweaking certain parts, checking gages and perusing every crevice. He took several deep breaths, smelling the burning odor that wafted from the automobile. After several minutes, he looked up. "It looks like your engine is shot. I'm going to need a few new parts to fix it, though you're going to be hard pressed to find them because of how old this model is..."

"Great," Heero replied sarcastically, rubbing his temples where a headache was forming.

The mechanic laughed; it was a thick, happy sound that tugged at something familiar within Heero. "Don't worry buddy, my salvage yard probably has those parts lying around somewhere. And if I don't have it I can sure as hell find it." He began wiping his hands on a rag he produced from his pocket. "I can definitely fix it but I'll have to tow it to my yard and it'll probably take a day or two. Maybe a little more if I have to order the parts."

Heero nodded.

Smiling, the man lowered the hood to Heero's car and slammed it shut. "It's not so bad, I can give you a ride home if you need it. Though tomorrow you'll be on your own," he added, "so I suggest checking the metro for buses that go to the Preventer Headquarters."

Heero looked up, surprised.

The man laughed again, taking off his sunglasses as he did so. Heero found himself staring at those eyes - a deep violet that reflected the jovial spirit behind them. "Your briefcase," the man said simply, pointing to the passenger seat where Heero's briefcase sat. The stylistic, and commonly known "P" shown from its corner.

"Oh." Heero couldn't pry his gaze from those eyes.

"I'm Duo Maxwell, by the way. The 'M' in 'S/M'," the man said, holding out his now clean hand.

Heero reached out and shook it. "Heero Yuy."

"Nice to meet you Heero." Duo smiled once more and something jolted through Heero, a slight electric tingle he couldn't explain. "So do you need a ride?"

Heero sighed and looked down at his dead car. "I guess so," he said.

Duo set to work hooking up Heero's car to the tow truck while Heero filled out the necessary paperwork, and once it was snuggly in place, they both climbed into the front seat. The truck smelled heavily of fast food and grease, and Heero noted the many papers and tools littering the dashboard and floor. He settled into the seat as Duo started the engine. The music immediately blasted into the air and seeing Heero wince, Duo quickly turned it down. "Sorry," he hastily apologized.

Heero looked over at him and managed to smile. "It's ok." Duo grinned back at him. "It's good music," he added.

Duo beamed and Heero thought he felt his heart pause. "You like it? It's-"

"Momento," Heero said, finishing the sentence for him. "I like them."

Duo looked surprised for a moment before a large smile crawled across his features. "You know them? A stand up Preventer like you likes heavy alternative?"

"Yeah, since their second album," Heero replied, oddly pleased with himself that he could surprise this stranger.

Laughing, Duo turned the music up a little. "Have you ever seen them live?"

Heero shook his head. "No."

"Aww you're missing out. They're just as good live as they are on disc. Better, I think. I went when they did their colony tour last year." He laughed again. "The lead singer pulled an audience member onto the stage and sang to her before she did a stage dive and busted her nose open."

A quiet chuckle rolled from Heero's mouth.

"She was a friend of mine," Duo added with a smirk.

Heero's eyebrows shot upwards. "Really?"

"Yeah, I went with her and couple other friends. Her little stunt got us backstage," Duo sniggered.

"Lucky," Heero replied.

The beat and lyrics vibrated between them, Duo's head nodding in time and Heero smiling despite himself. He found the frustration that had built up over the past hour was slowly dissipating as he sat next to Duo, listening to the music. It was as if it didn't matter that he would need to take the bus to work for a few days, or that he would probably be facing a few thousand dollars worth of repairs for his car. The tension eased from him and it didn't matter that there had been such a hiccup in his routine.

Heero gave directions when needed and before the end of the second song, they were pulling up beside his apartment building. He hesitated for a moment, almost not wanting to get out of the truck. He looked over at Duo. "Thanks for the ride."

"No problem," Duo said, that bright smile across his face. He leaned forward and opened the glove compartment, shuffling through a pile of papers before pulling out a small card and handing it to Heero. "Here. That's the number to the office and that-" he pointed to the second number on the card, "is my personal cell. Give me a call tomorrow and I'll have an update on your car."

"Thanks," Heero said, pocketing the business card. He opened the door and stepped out of the truck.

"Talk to you later," Duo called after him.

Heero waved back as Duo drove away, his mind in a haze.



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