by Dyna Dee
Some people consider commuting a pain in the ass, a waste of time and a grinding ordeal, but for Heero there is simply no alternative, working out of town as he does. He tries to make the most of it, listening to music, munching on snacks or a cold drink he often purchases from the machine at work. He prides himself for remaining calm and being a responsible, conscientious driver who accepts that inching along twenty miles of gridlock is the price he pays for having a very good job.
Every once in a while something catches his eye and takes his mind off the time he's wasting on the congested freeway. Sometimes it's a happy looking dog hanging out a car window, a hawk sitting on a telephone pole or a flock of starlings moving through the sky like a dark wispy cloud. Then there were those cars whose occupants sing loudly to the tune on their radio, or those who argue with faces contorted in anger and raised voices escaping the confines of their vehicle. There are also erratic and imbecilic drivers he can only shake his head at in disbelief. Constantly jutting their cars from one lane to another, those inconsiderate drivers think only of getting ahead of the rest of the commuters while their actions actually make the gridlock worse.
On one gray, drizzly and otherwise forgettable winter afternoon, while stuck in the midst of yet another monotonous traffic jam, something unusual caught Heero's eye. Having a fondness for vintage cars, he could hardly believe he was looking at a classic Corvette convertible, fully restored to a pristine condition. The body of the sports car was painted a pale silvery blue, and the elongated, tear-shaped side panel was a fresh and clean white, framed by chrome. Excited by the sight, Heero drew abreast this marvel in his own practical, affordable gray coupe. The classic car's retractable top was up, due to the inclement weather, so he had to stretch up in his seat in order to peek though the driver's window with the intention of getting a glimpse of the other car's interior, hoping to see if the inside was in as good a shape as the outside.
As he peered inside, his eyes immediately latched onto the fine-looking profile of the car's driver. At first glance, Heero thought he might be looking at a woman, due to the thick brown hair that was pulled to the back of the driver's neck.
Realizing his focus had strayed too long away from the road, he jerked his eyes forward to make sure he wasn't straying out of his lane. With a sigh of relief, seeing that everything around him was as it should be, he glanced back at the silvery-blue car and observed the driver taking a sip from a cup that bore the label of a well-known coffee shop. As the long, slender neck stretched back, the bob of a noticeable Adam's apple was revealed. The person in the other car was most definitely not a woman as he'd supposed. His attention refocused on the driver in an attempt to study the man's face, or what he could see of it from a side angle. The Corvette's driver, he decided, had a perfectly formed nose, not too big or small, and his lips appeared neither too full nor thin. From his current position he couldn't see the man's eyes, but he was pretty sure they would be a perfect match to the rest of the handsome face. Why he felt that way, he didn't know. It only seemed right that someone who looked as handsome as the other driver did from a side profile and, of course, drove such a hot car, would also have the good fortune of being drop dead gorgeous. However, trying to piece together a person's face from a side angle was near to impossible, but what he did manage to see had captured his interest.
Heero found himself thinking more about the man driving the car rather than the vintage car itself. His curiosity kept the mysterious driver in his thoughts long after he'd lost the Corvette in traffic, left the clogged freeway and finally made his way home.
From that day forward Heero was vigilant in his search for the Corvette as he drove to and from work. Three out of five workdays he managed to spot the exceptional car on his way home, either in front or behind him in the heavy traffic. Compelled by his curiosity, he either sped up or slowed down in an attempt to catch another glimpse of the mysterious driver, trying to see his whole face and eyes, not just a side profile. Unfortunately, his quest remained unsatisfied in the weeks following his first sighting.
With spring came an improvement of the weather and Heero's interest in the classic car and its driver remained steady. His daily search for the silvery-blue Corvette had become a welcome distraction from his otherwise boring commute. Once again, on a warm, spring afternoon and five minutes after merging onto the freeway, he spotted the Corvette. His heart skipped with excitement after seeing the convertible top had been retracted. Quickly, before losing sight of his target, he maneuvered his car around three trucks, a tour bus, five other cars and a van in order to pull up along the recognizable classic. With the collapsible roof out of the way his view of the driver was nearly unobstructed, revealing that the other driver wore his thick, brown hair pulled back in a braid, the woven end being nowhere in sight, having disappeared between his back and the driver's seat. He could only fantasize about just how long that braid might be.
Unfortunately for Heero, with the bright and sunny weather also came the need for sunglasses, and the Corvette driver dutifully wore a smart looking pair with dark lenses and black rims. So once again, and much to Heero's disappointment, the driver's face was partially obscured.
Traffic slowed to a stop once again, allowing Heero to covertly watch as the brunette driver slowly brought a bottle of soda up to his lips and tilted his head back as he took a long, leisurely drink of the dark liquid, his Adam's apple bobbing with each swallow.
How Heero envied that plastic bottle.
I have to meet him, he said to himself. Of course, there was no guarantee that the man in the car was gay or that he would be interested in him even if he was. There was just something about the handsome driver that fascinated Heero, which was interesting in itself. That high level of fascination for another person was very rare for him, and had actually happened only once during his twenty-five years.
During the days and then the weeks that passed, Heero continued with this little diversion, managing to keep his growing fascination for the mystery man to himself. His obsession with the car and driver was a harmless pastime, he told himself. It wasn't as if he was stalking the good-looking guy or trying to follow him home. Even so, he couldn't seem to help himself from searching the freeway each afternoon for that silver-blue convertible and then trying to catch a glimpse of its captivating driver.
Heero concluded that the mystery man in the Corvette must work somewhere in the vicinity of his own employment, since he saw him on the road almost every work day. With that thought in mind, he began to casually scan the parking lots of the many buildings within the business park where his own company was located, outside the city limits and by the county airport. He was not a stalker, he adamantly told himself, and after a couple of days had passed and seeing no sign of the classic car in the area, he forced himself to let the matter go, mainly to prove to himself that he could.
All too soon summer overtook spring, and Heero began to notice a change in the Corvette driver's hair color. Though he could only see the top and back of the man's head, the brown hair now had hints of red and gold in its strands. He attributed this change to the man driving home with the top down, almost daily now that the weather had warmed. He thought the sun-kissed highlights were very attractive.
How he envied the sun.
Once again he changed lanes and eased up to the classic car, but this time his efforts paid off when the traffic slowed to a creeping crawl just as their cars lined up, side by side. The faint sound of music came from the Corvette's stereo system and Heero smiled after recognizing the strains of a classic rock song. Liking the song, he quickly turned up his own radio and hit several buttons until he found the same station the other driver is listening to. Turning up the volume, he thought that with any luck the guy in the other car might turn his head and attention his way.
Having observed him for several months now, Heero began to feel ridiculously anxious about making his presence known to the other commuter. He didn't have long to worry about it, because hearing the same music coming from the car next to him, the driver of the Corvette glanced his way, and for a brief moment Heero had his first glimpse of a full smile, complete with pearly white and straight teeth. The cursed sunglasses made it impossible for him to see the other driver's eyes, but he was somewhat satisfied with having his first frontal view of the other man's face. The brunet was just as handsome as he imagined him to be. Receiving a friendly nod of approval for his choice in music, Heero smiled back, but the grin on his face faded the moment the Corvette's driver turned his attention back to the road and the slow moving traffic.
After taking his exit off the freeway, Heero mentally said farewell to the other car and its driver as they continued down the clogged freeway, feeling as if he'd accomplished something monumental that day. The good-looking guy had actually glanced his way, acknowledged his presence, if even for a brief moment. He was, without a doubt, physically attracted to the other driver, even though he'd only seen half of his face, until today. Still, he couldn't explain the unusually strong draw he felt towards the other man, a complete stranger. Sure, it was the car that first caught his attention, but had definitely been its driver for quite a while.
He felt a moment of discomfort, questioning himself again whether or not his "fascination" with the other man might be bordering on an unhealthy obsession, though he hadn't actually done anything other than look for the other driver on the freeway to try and sate his curiosity. It took only a moment before he concluded he was not abnormally obsessed, merely curious and attracted to the handsome stranger. And who wouldn't be? he asked himself, considering how good looking the guy was and the car he drove. With that bit of self reassurance, he decided the next step was to sate his curiosity further by figuring out a way to meet the other man.
But how could he manage meeting the â€˜Vett's driver when they drove in separate cars on the freeway?
Finally, and after much consideration, he came up with an idea, though carrying it through would have its risks. The driver of the Corvette might want to beat him to a bloody pulp if he got up enough nerve to carry out his plan. With that in mind, he took some time to reconsider and calculate every possible outcome, some of which would be less than desirable. After listing the pros and cons, he realized his plan offered the only real chance he had of meeting the other man outside of their cars. All he had to do now was talk himself into actually putting his plan into action and following through.
It was a Friday afternoon when he finally worked up the courage to act. This time the Corvette was behind him on the freeway and to his left. He had to ride his brakes for a while in order to let the other car catch up to him. Then just as the classic car pulled along side and was just inching past him, Heero quickly hit his left blinker and made his move, abruptly changing lanes. The slight bump and the immediate sound of metal hitting metal was proof that he'd successfully hit the blue-silver car, but hopefully only just enough to scrape the back bumper.
The brunette's head jerked around with a look on his face that bordered disbelief. That shocked expression quickly turned to a scathing frown directed at him. Heero made a motion with his hand for the other man to precede him to the next exit so that they could check out the damage and exchange insurance information.
The quarter mile to the turnoff seemed the longest stretch of road he'd ever known. He could only wonder how angry the man driving the Corvette was, if he was cursing a blue streak at him for damaging his beautiful car. Heero felt more than a little remorseful, and once again wondered what had gotten into him, purposely hitting another man's car in order to meet him face to face. He was normally a confident, self-sufficient man, though quiet and sometimes called introverted. It wasn't like him to behave in such a reckless manner. He promised himself as he followed the classic car onto the off ramp that he would make this up to the other driver, somehow.
Having left the freeway, Heero let the sports car lead him into the nearest gas station. He pulled into one of the parking spaces and shut off his engine and took a deep breath, calming his rattled nerves. With a quick glance at the other man, he tried to decided whether he should be prepared for a physical confrontation or verbal assault. Both reactions had been on his list of consequences when he'd come up with this harebrained idea.
The Corvette's purring engine suddenly stopped, and the good looking guy paused a moment, perhaps reigning in his anger before exiting his car. The man finally opened the driver's door and got out, and with quick strides moved to the back of his car to check the right bumper, not wasting a moment to glance in Heero's direction.
Heero, meanwhile, cautiously got out of his coupe, but instead of checking any damage to his own car, his eyes became fixed on the other driver as he bent to examine the damage.
The Corvette's driver, he noted, was tall and slender, wearing jeans that fit perfectly but not too tight nor loose. He wore a plain, untucked, dark blue T-shirt with the logo of a dolphin over his left breast. The man looked good enough to eat, or so Heero thought. As the frowning driver crouched down to look more closely at the scratch and slight dent on the silver bumper, Heero couldn't help but wonder if he'd blown any chance he might have had with the guy by hitting his car. His anxiety increased after seeing the hair that he'd fantasized about for months was even longer than he'd expected. Could this man get any sexier? he asked himself. Long hair on a guy was something he'd always been a sucker for. This man, a virtual stranger who drove an impressive car had an equally impressive long braid that reached just below his waist, could easily get whatever he wanted out of Heero, in his libido-charged state. Heero couldn't help but wonder what that hair would look like free of its braid. Shaking away the image that thought conjured up in his head, he cautiously approached the man just as the often cursed sunglasses were lifted and set on top of the brunet's head.
"I'm so sorry," Heero apologized as sincerely as he could manage. The other man's attention immediately turned to him, his eyes narrowing slightly. "I don't know what to say except that I feel terrible about the damage to your car. I can assure you that my insurance company will pay for all the damages."
The man straightened and slowly turned to face him, and it was then that Heero got a glimpse of what those sunglasses had hidden for so long. The taller man's eyes were everything he'd dreamed of and more. He'd heard of people having violet eyes, Elizabeth Taylor was one, but he'd never personally known anyone fortunate enough to be born with them. And though they were now scrutinizing him with anger, those eyes were stunningly beautiful and perfectly framed by black lashes and gently arched, cinnamon-colored eyebrows. He was, undoubtedly, the most handsome man Heero had ever set eyes on.
"Do you have any idea how much it's going to cost to replace a vintage fender?" the Adonis asked him in a tight voice, obviously trying to restrain himself. Heero blinked. As ridiculous as it sounded, the cost of such an item never even occurred to him when he devised this plan to meet the driver of the classic Corvette. Before he could answer, the long-haired man continued explaining his dilemma. "This is a nineteen fifty seven, retro C-1 classic. In its restored condition this baby is worth nearly one hundred fifty thousand dollars."
At this point Heero was mentally calling himself every kind of stupid. Of course a car this old and in mint condition would be worth a lot of money, but one hundred fifty thousand dollars? "I am so sorry," he blurted out again, honestly feeling like an idiot.
Suddenly, the handsome man let out a sigh and seemed to calm. After a few awkward moments passed, he said, "Well, to tell you the truth, the damage isn't that bad. I might be able to fix it myself."
"Are you a mechanic?" Heero asked as a feeling of relief washed over him.
"It's a hobby," he admitted. "By day I'm a graphic designer for Bio-Rad."
Heero had been right; the other man's company was located in the business park just up the road from where he worked. Offering the other man his hand, he introduced himself "I'm Heero. Heero Yuy. I'm a systems analyst for Medtronics. They make, amongst other things, stints for hearts. It seems we're both connected to the medical field."
"Duo Maxwell," the handsome man said, his smile warming as he took Heero's hand in his own and gave it a firm shake. "I was wisely counseled by my college advisor that if I were smart I'd steer my career path toward the field of medicine. With the baby boomers coming into retirement and the increase of medical services required to serve them, it was a field that would open up and assure job security."
"I had the same advice," Heero said with a grin. "But it came from my father. He's a doctor."
"Oh yeah? What kind?"
"An oncologist at St. Luke's."
Duo winced. "Ooh, tough job."
"No kidding. Knowing that my dad deals daily with life and death, and how some cases weight on him, turned me away from wanting to be a physician."
There was a pause before Duo asked, "So, your car's insured, right?"
Oh yeah. Having gotten caught up in their conversation and staring at those incredible violet eyes, Heero had almost forgotten that he'd hit his expensive car. "Of course. Let me get my agent's card out."
Going to the passenger side of the car, he pulled the black owner's manual out of the glove box and removed the necessary registration and insurance information. Pulling a paper and pen out from his briefcase, he quickly wrote down the needed information and gave it to the waiting man. On another piece of paper he wrote down Duo's insurance name and number as well. Once the information had been traded, it seemed like the time had come for the two men to go their separate ways. As Duo moved to turn away, Hero put his hand on his arm to stop him. He hadn't come this far, done something so outrageous, only to let the opportunity slip between his fingers.
"Listen, I really am sorry. Can I make it up to you by buying you dinner? There's an Italian and a Thai restaurant just down the street."
"You don't have to do that," the other man replied with a polite smile.
"But I'd like to," Heero said before the other man could turn away again. "That is, unless I'd be keeping you away from something or... someone."
There, he'd said it. He'd done the classic fishing around to find out if the other man was involved with someone. He waited, holding his breath while waiting for Duo's response.
"No, there's no one. Broke up with my boyfriend a couple of months ago and have been kind of reluctant to jump back into the dating scene."
It was beyond any ability Heero possessed to hold back the smile that was demanding to be let out. "I know what you mean," he replied as casually as he could manage. "The last guy I dated was a control freak. It kind of makes you wary of giving anyone else a chance."
The violet eyes suddenly lit up and Duo's smile blossomed, stealing Heero's breath away with its brilliance "Um.. Seems we have more in common than just our field of work."
"How about dinner?" Heero reminded him, keeping his fingers crossed that the other man would give him the chance he'd been hoping for since the first time he'd glimpsed his profile months ago.
The taller man seemed to weigh Heero's suggestion for a brief moment then nodded his head. "Sure. Dinner sounds great."
They ate Italian, but for the life of him Heero couldn't tell you what they ordered or what it tasted like. He was totally enthralled by the violet-eyed man sitting across the table for two. They spent the next four hours talking about everything and anything, much to the dismay of their server, who made it rather obvious they were taking too much time with their after-dinner coffee than was normal. Heero quickly discovered that taking with Duo was surprisingly easy, and even though they had a lot in common, those things that they didn't were more intriguing than alienating.
That night was the beginning of something hopeful, something that soon became meaningful and lasting. Six months later, Heero's reliable, ordinary coupe sat gathering dust in the parking stall of his new and shared condo. Each workday he rode to and from work in the classic 1957 C-1 Corvette. Added to that pleasure was the goodbye and hello kiss shared with the car's equally impressive and beautiful owner as he dropped Heero off in the morning and picked him up at the end of each work day. Heero could now honestly and most enthusiastically say that commuting had never been quite so enjoyable.