Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Different Paths'
Pairing: 1+2(+1)
Rating: R
900 words
Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Heero POV

AN: Part #31 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #78 - 'stained'.

Working Pipes
by kebzero

The trouble about being born stubborn is not knowing when to quit. Sometimes, that's a quality. Other times, a liability. Occasionally it's both.

The dishwasher and me would be a good example. It refuses to work properly, I refuse to quit playing with its insides until it does. While I grew to learn the reason for Duo's gleeful checkups on my lack of progress, I was not about to admit defeat to a damn machine.

We're still using the sink.

I had messed up a small portion of the kitchen floor with spare parts, dishwasher innards and rags to put them on, as well as assorted tools and plumbing utilities when Hilde came in, tapping my foot to notify me of her presence. It wasn't necessary; she knew I had heard her approach - but she craved my attention also.

Reluctantly, I paused my battle with the water intake at the far back of the machine and scooted out, wiped my hands on my grimy T-shirt. "Yeah, Hilde? You want something?"

Lopsided grin. "Still not giving up?"

Grunt, faint smirk. "Sorry, no." Glance at my nemesis, then at her. "You wouldn't happen to be sabotaging this thing when Duo and I aren't looking, would you?"

She paused, gave me an ambiguous look that lasted a tad too long. "Heero, I know you're on laundry detail this week, but I figured I'd pay you back for helping me with the front yard this morning."

I turned my back on her, started tidying up the mess I'd made. I wasn't going to win today either, that much was obvious. "You didn't have-"

"So," she pushed on, "I scouted the bedrooms for laundry too - and decided to take the bedclothes while I was at it."

The hair at the back of my neck prickled. Slowly, I straightened up, turned to face her. Damn if the girl wasn't smirking. Not quite ear to ear like Duo sometimes did, but close enough.

I felt like I'd been caught with my pants down.

Again, close enough.

She folded her arms, leaned her hip up against the counter. "Look, it's none of my business, and I understand that you sometimes have to find..." Sly smile. "Release for your urges."

The very tone of her voice made my cheeks heat up.

"What I'm getting at is, why don't you attempt being subtle about it and lock yourself up in the bathroom, like Duo does?"

I must have spaced out for a moment, since the next thing I recall was Hilde snapping her fingers an inch off my nose. "What?"

Grin. "I bet you were thinking about locking yourself in the bathroom with Duo."

My face reached the color of ripe tomato. I was about to deny it - and it would have been the truth; my thoughts up to that point had been of Duo going solo - but now that she'd given me the idea, or rather, the fantasy...


Again, she'd startled me out of my thoughts. "Huh?"

Chuckle. "Well, none of my business what you dream about," she begun, voice trailing off. "You're not doing... weird things, are you?"

Raised brow. "What do you mean?"

She pushed away from the counter, shifted her footing, tapped the counter plate with her fingers in a random pattern. "I was just thinking... you don't abuse his laundry, do you? Like, put on his used underwear, or something equally gross and kinky?"

Again, food for thought - if with a sour tang. Literally. Judging from her expression, there was a tad of real concern in her jesting. I shook my head, tried to smile, deciding to give her a nugget. "No, I haven't done that - but I admit I did sniff his shorts once."

She gaped. A far better expression than her smirk, in my opinion - at least when I'm on the receiving end of it. "Seriously?"

Grin. "Only once. Curiosity got to me, among other things. Second thoughts didn't - and believe me, it wasn't roses."

Slow recovery, soft laughter.

"I think... I'd prefer direct smells rather than worked-up second hand scents."

Again, her jaw drooped - albeit, her mien of amuse remained.

Speak of the devil, and he appeareth. Speak of Duo, and he arrives late - or just on cue, depending on perspective.

He stood in the doorway, a towel around his shoulders, preventing his damp hair from soaking his two sizes too big T-shirt completely. Absentmindedly, he used a corner of the towel to dry out his right ear. Glances to Hilde, me, the mess on the floor. Grinning, he asked "What's going on here? Having plumbing problems?"

Hilde and I exchanged looks - and started laughing. After a brief pause, seeing Duo's somewhat startled expression, we went at it again. He'd obviously meant to take a poke at me and my failure with the dishwasher. Ironic how a joke can backfire.

At length, he just shook his head in resignation, muttering something about weirdos, and walked off. From the hallway, he told us to let him know when the kitchen floor was cleared. It was his turn to make dinner.

Hilde stayed behind for a bit and helped me clean up my mess for the second time that day.

The shower I took soon after was a blessing.

And unless someone listened in at the door, none would be the wiser.


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