In The Memory Part 2
Heero walked into his office and nodded at Wufei, who immediately handed him a stack of files. "You're late," Wufei said, a tinge of surprise lacing his voice. Heero had never been late to work in all his years of knowing him. "Une wants us in her office for a briefing," he told Heero, and the two of them turned from their desks and made their way down the hall. Looking at his coworker, Wufei's amazement heightened. "You're rather cheerful this morning."
Heero sighed. "I had to take the bus this morning."
"The bus? The bus puts you in a good mood..." Wufei turned his head to stare at his friend as they walked, curious about the other man's unusual behavior.
"No," Heero chuckled, "My car broke down last night."
"Did you have to call roadside assistance?"
"I called S/M Towing. The mechanic was really nice - he gave me a ride home. He said I probably need a new engine-"
Heero nodded. "Duo Maxwell."
Wufei stared at him, eyes a little wider than they should have been. Heero thought he saw something like worry flash across his friend's face, but Wufei quickly turned his gaze to the files in his hands. "How long until you have your car back?" he asked, shifting the conversation.
"I have to call Duo this afternoon to see."
Wufei nodded, still purposefully focused on the papers in front of him. They turned down another hallway and finally reached their boss's office. Heero raised his fist and rapped on the door, waiting for the usual "Come in," before entering.
Lady Une sat behind her desk, busily typing on her laptop. She looked up as the two men came through her door and gave them a small smile. Her brown hair hung neatly to her shoulders and her hazel eyes shown brightly from behind sleek spectacles. She wore her usual skirt suit, today's color being a rich maroon that brought out her eyes. "Chang, Yuy, thank you for coming."
The two men bowed and took their seats on the opposite side of Une's desk.
"Let's get right to it, shall we?" She glanced between them, a solemn look washing over her face. "I want you to keep searching for members of the Earthling Revolutionary Army. Sources say they're planning another attack on the L4 resource station and apparently one of their members is an insider on the station. We need to find out who it is and stop that attack before it happens."
Heero scanned the paperwork Wufei had handed him. "Has there been any confirmation on who supplied their mobile suits?"
"No," Une answered. "We're speculating a mobile suit plant on an L5 colony, but nothing is definite."
"We need to find out for sure," Heero said, "so we can cut off that supply."
"Which is why we need to discover the identities of E.R.A.'s key players. Finding out who they are will lead us to what connections the group has."
Heero and Wufei nodded.
"How are repairs going at the L1 colony that was attacked?" Wufei asked.
"Not well," Une said heavily, "Every time construction begins to make serious progress, there is an explosion or power outage or some kind of accident to bring everything to a stand still. There's no proof, but it's obvious the E.R.A. is determined not to let the colony rebuild."
"So they have some connections there," Heero said.
Une nodded. "They must have. E.R.A. is well organized and their members are mere phantoms. They've already attacked the residential wing of L1, the L4 resource satellites, and the Preventers base in the L5 cluster. I've heightened security around L3 and here on L2, but from what we saw when they attacked L1, their mobile suit fleet is well equipped and the pilots that man them are highly trained in battle."
"And they still maintain they are fighting to purify Earth and space," Heero stated sardonically.
Une nodded again. "They really want to disband - destroy, actually - the ESUN, or at least separate the colonies from it." She looked at Wufei. "We're getting to the breaking point. If we don't make progress soon, the Preventers will need to take desperate measures."
Wufei stared back at her, understanding passing between them.
"So go get to work," she finally said.
Heero and Wufei stood, bowed, and left to return to their office.
~ ~ ~
Finger poised over the 'Send' button, Heero stared at his phone. It was late in the afternoon and he was on a short break when he had decided to make the call. A strange nervousness flowed over him at the thought of calling Duo. He just needed to know whether or not his car was fixable, but something made him want to talk about something more. He didn't know why he was feeling like this; there was no reason to be so anxious. Duo was just a mechanic and Heero just needed his car repaired.
He hesitantly pushed the button and initiated the call. The phone rang for a few moments before the familiar voice came on the line.
"Hi, Duo?" Heero said, almost choking on the lump in his throat.
"It's Heero Yuy, you towed my car yesterday?"
"Oh, hi!" A tone came over Duo's voice that told Heero he must be smiling. "Glad you called."
Heero couldn't help but smile. "Yeah, I... was just wondering about my car..."
"Oh..." Duo's voice faltered, as if he hadn't been expecting Heero to ask about his car right away. But he recovered quickly. "Yeah, it's all ready."
"Yep, I replaced the engine and fine tuned a few things. It's all set to go. You can come down and get it anytime."
"Ok. Well I guess I'll be there after I get off work," Heero replied. Another surge of apprehension rushed through him at the thought of seeing Duo again. Why was he reacting like this?
"Great!" Duo said, that happy tone returning to his disembodied voice. "I'll see you later, then."
Heero nodded, forgetting for a moment that the other man couldn't see the movement, and said "Ok, bye."
Heero waited for the click that told him Duo had hung up before he flipped his own phone closed. A heavy sigh escaped him and he reluctantly returned to work, hoping the afternoon would yield some progress in his search for the terrorist faction members.
~ ~ ~
Heero stared out the window and watched the streets pass as the bus carried him to the salvage yard. The route felt strangely familiar - he noticed the park, shops and buildings as they swooshed past, almost as if he knew which would come next.
Finally the bus made its way to the right street and stopped just a block away from where his car was waiting for him. Just a block away from Duo.
Taking in a deep breath, he walked up to the salvage yard office and walked in, a bell twinkling as he went through the door. A woman with dark hair and strong blue eyes stood behind the service counter, busily typing on a desktop computer. She looked up as Heero approached.
"May I help... you..." A stunned look passed over the woman's face. Heero thought he saw recognition fill her eyes. And something else - was it fear? He frowned at her and she shook her head, as if to collect herself. She smiled then, though it didn't quite reach her eyes. "May I help you?" she repeated, her voice more composed this time.
"Yeah I'm looking for Duo. I talked to him earlier and he said my car's ready."
The woman turned back to her computer and began typing. "Oh yes, Mr. Yuy?" She glanced up to see him nod, and then returned to examining his file on the screen. "Yes it's ready. Just let me print your receipt..."
Heero glanced at the total before handing her his credit card. Thankfully it wasn't going to cost him as much as he thought. After handling the transaction, the woman walked around the counter and took a set of keys from the wall. "Just follow me."
He did and a few minutes later he found himself walking through the salvage yard. He looked around as they passed large piles of mechanical scrap, old rusted cars and even what Heero identified as aged mobile suit parts. Turning the corner, they entered another part of the yard that was clearly sectioned off for car repairs. Heero quickly spotted his dark green sedan a few yards away.
Two cars down, bent under the hood of a beat up pick up truck, was Duo. He wore a loose pair of dingy blue jeans and an oil stained t-shirt. His braid hung down his back, falling over his side to dangle just above the engine. Heero's eyes trailed over the lithe form and greedily drank it in. He caught himself staring and quickly turned away as heat rushed to his cheeks.
"Duo!" The woman called out and Duo immediately shot up, violently banging his head on the raised hood of the pick up. A loud curse echoed throughout the yard and Heero couldn't hold back a smile. The woman laughed and walked forward, Heero in tow.
Rubbing the fresh bump on the back of his head, Duo glared at the woman. "Hilde, I told you not to do that!"
"Sorry," the woman, Hilde, apologized, though she continued to giggle. "Mr. Yuy is here to get his car."
Duo looked up and a genuine smile came across his features. "Hey, Heero!"
"Hi," Heero replied, unable to manage anything more.
The three of them stood looking at each other as several awkward moments of silence passed. Heero and Duo's eyes were fixed on each other and Hilde glanced back and forth between them. When she couldn't stand it any longer, she cleared her throat. "Well. I guess I'll just... go back to the office. Let me know when you're done with Mr. Beck's truck, Duo, he wants to be called immediately."
"Ok," Duo replied, eyes not leaving Heero's.
Hilde took one last look at each of them and walked away, leaving the two men to continue staring at each other.
"So..." Heero motioned behind him, "My car?"
Duo blinked and shook himself out of his reverie. "Oh, yeah. Here." Duo led Heero over to his car and pulled up the hood, showing him the replaced engine underneath. He watched with a smile as Heero's eyes widened upon seeing the shiny new machinery.
"That's brand new," Heero said, "The receipt said the part was two years old."
"Yeah," Duo said shyly, rubbing his head again. "I didn't have the right engine, so I used this one. I've had it for a few months and wasn't doing anything with it, so I figured I might as well put it to use." Seeing Heero about to protest, Duo pressed on. "I'm not trying to get more money out of you or anything, so calm down, buddy. Your car's kind of dated and I didn't have any parts from that year. This one fit, so I used it. No extra charge."
Heero eyed the engine, then Duo. "What's the catch?" he asked suspiciously.
Duo smiled and glanced around the yard, hesitant to answer. "Alright you got me. Go to dinner with me," he said, grin widening.
Heero's eyebrows shot to his hairline. "Dinner? What? Tonight?"
"No no," Duo laughed, "I've got to finish that truck, so I'll be working late tonight. But sometime this week."
Heero was quiet for a moment, weighing the notion in his mind. Part of him reeled in excitement at the idea of going to dinner with Duo, interested in the possibilities such a situation held. Another part of him twisted in a bundle of nerves at the same thought. "Dinner," he said.
"What? Like a date?"
Duo managed to look slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to assume you were-"
"Ok," Heero said quickly.
Duo beamed. "Great! I'm not sure when I'll be free, my schedule is a little erratic. Is it ok if I call you? I have your number on file," he laughed.
Heero nodded and felt himself smiling. That smile didn't leave his face for the rest of the day.
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