Dust in the Wind
After casting a judicious eye on the coupling once more, Trowa shifted the toolbox contents again, coming up with a big-mouth, long handled wrench. He set the wrench head assembly over the nut and tightened it down. A pair of worn leather gloves, its fingers cut off just past the second knuckle were slipped on and Trowa pulled the handle, muscles bunching and straining.
The give was minute, but enough. Trowa eased up on the applied torque, reset his feet, and pushed. With a slight metal groan, the nut gave way, and after another turn, Trowa was able to unscrew the fastener by hand. A couple of well-placed kicks and the busted coupler was free. He heaved it in the back of the truck, knowing his uncle would have to run up to town for a new one - spare parts being non-existent.
Peering out from under the brim of his hat, Trowa stared at the singlewide a moment and looked away. It was already past two; the repair wasn’t getting finish this day. In silence, he gathered the tools, tossed them back in the box and slammed the tailgate shut. Dust rose from the ancient Chevy. He peeled off his gloves, climbed in the driver’s seat and drove across the field to the main base.
It was only March but the temperatures had been holding steady in the nineties for the past couple of weeks. His sleeveless tee shirt was soaked, his skin itching where dirt and sweat and grime mixed. Trowa pulled his hat from his head, walking to the trough lining the side wall of a weather-blown shack. He was hanging his hat from a ten-penny nailed to the grayed slat, turning the tap, and letting the stale water run before scooping cupped handfuls of water.
He was pulling off his shirt, getting ready for a quick wash when he heard tires on gravel. A quick look told him he had time and he shoved a handful of shirt down his back pocket. A dried sliver of soap worked into a bit of lather, hands scrubbed, neck, face and shoulders washed and rinsed. Trowa turned off the tap, noted the car sounded closer, and plucked his hat up from the nail.
The car was new, just-off-the-show-room slick and shiny. A foreign model - Italian he thought, but wasn’t sure. He shot another look to the trailer, and knew it had to be a banker. Mentally he counted his available, knew it was short and wondered what sort of deal he could make. It took him more than a minute, and a nearly forgotten voice calling his name to understand foreclosure wasn’t in the plans for the day.
It started as a slow grin, gaining strength and speed with each step. "Well," he said, not able to stop the head to toe check, "knew those Santa Anas were good for something." He noticed he was being checked out as well. His chest expanded with unconscious deliberateness.
"You-you look..." a tongue touched lip "good." The man swallowed and looked away. "What are you doing here?"
Trowa came to a halt by the front fender of the - Italian - car, his eyes slid from a face remembered more in the shank of the night dreams than mid-afternoon days. His finger drew through the dust that had settle on the triple hand-waxed paint and he looked at it a moment before rubbing it away with his thumb.
"My uncle needed help." His eyes flicked upward again, and he waited.
"I-I should have called. Or written." A hand rose and flailed. "Or something." Trowa didn’t say anything, but watched. "I shouldn’t have come. I’m sorry." His hand was on the door latch, his thumb pressing the catch when Trowa spoke.
"Quatre," he closed the distance between them, "wait." Quatre wasn’t looking at him, his head still turned away, but Trowa knew he was well of where he stood. "What are you doing here?"
Quatre turned to look at him then, his mouth flashed in a brief smile. "I was in the neighborhood..." The humor in his expression faded away. "I should have written, Trowa, and I’m sorry. I-I..." Quatre was inhaling deeply, "I had a lot of thinking to do."
Trowa only nodded and shot a look to the trailer. "I need to get Tom up, then I’ll give you the two-bit tour." He was already turning away, not waiting for Quatre to follow.
The trailer was white, once, with a stripe of blue so faded the colors were nearly the same, the sun and wind and dirt bleaching both to indiscriminate gray. Trowa raised a fist to pound on the aluminum side just below a small window. "Time to hit the road, Tom," his yell just enough to penetrate, loud enough to make Quatre retreat a step or two.
"You live here?"
He had been standing, listening for movement from inside the trailer and turned at the tone in Quatre’s voice. His eyebrow raised, but instead of answering, he gestured down the length of the trailer, pointing out to the field beyond. "This plot of land Tom bought the year before ‘nam." He began to walk, and Quatre kept stride with him.
"Said he was tired of traveling, and the cold." He shot Quatre a look, tan skin crinkling at the corner of his eyes. "It doesn’t get cold much here." And then he was pointing out across an arid patch of land, broken by riotous clumps of grass, and mesquite, toward a largish lump. "That was the first pump we sunk. And that one," his hand drifted to the right, "the second. Pump three’s off that’a way, and unless you really want to see it, best take my word." He was smiling, and Quatre returned his smile.
An engine turning over had the both of them looking around. The old Chevy fired to life, and a horn honked. The truck lurched forward, rattled and nearly stalled before the old man behind the wheel had it facing the drive out. Trowa waited until the truck disappeared behind its cloud of dust.
"He has cancer." He didn’t look at Quatre, but began walking again. A hand on his arm pulled him to a stop.
"I’m so sorry Trowa," Quatre’s voice was low, and his hand remained.
Trowa nodded, raised his other arm, pointing once again. "Tom has a couple brush mares and scrub cows." Quatre’s fingers were sliding down his wrist, touching his palm. "Pump four is down for repairs," Trowa continued speaking; his hand trembled. "But its production has been falling off steadily for the past couple of months anyway." Trowa’s voice faded off and he found himself staring at their clasped hands.
"There’s water in the trailer," he thrust out. "Maybe a beer." He shot a look at Quatre, who gave a nod, and they walked in silence.
It wasn’t until they were inside that Quatre released his hand. Trowa went to the refrigerator and held up a can in question. Quatre shook his head, standing by the fan set in front of an open window. A glass of water poured from the pitcher out of the fridge was handed over to Quatre, and Trowa watched as he swallowed.
Turning abruptly, Trowa disappeared down the short hall, entered a small room, tossed his tee shirt in the corner, and pulled on a shirt from the closet. Quatre was still standing before the fan, and Trowa saw his eyes tracking his fingers as they worked at a button.
"Why are you here?" he repeated his question, debated taking a seat, offering one or forgoing courtesy in favor of expedience.
Quatre lowered the glass from his lips, licked the moisture hovering and turned from him. Trowa dropped his hands away from his shirt, watching the man walk round the big metal desk. Quatre set his water down, reached up and touched the small plastic Christmas tree still perched on top a bank of file cabinets, setting the ornaments to swinging.
"Dad passed away Thanksgiving day."
For a moment, Trowa wasn’t sure he had spoke. He began to make some sort of condolence but Quatre continued.
"He had said he was tired after dinner, and went into his study." Quatre lowered his hand, his forehead dropped forward to lean against the metal. "Did I ever tell you I had an older brother?"
"No..." Trowa managed, raising a hand, taking a step.
"I wasn’t even a year old when he died. He was a soldier." Quatre rolled around, still in contact with the cabinet. "Korean War." Quatre’s eyes closed, and Trowa closed the distance between them.
"Why are you here?" His body rocked forward, inches from Quatre’s but he wouldn’t touch him. Not yet.
Quatre’s eyes snapped open. "Did you mean it that day? What you told me?"
He nodded. The words he’d spoke the day before he was due to ship out for home had never left his thoughts. Once upon a time, he’d thought Quatre felt them as well.
"I don’t..." Quatre’s eyes dropped to the center of the vee his shirt made, to his bare chest. "I had a girlfriend once. I loved her. Wanted to get married. Have a family." His voice was thin and soft, but Trowa knew.
"Me, too." Trowa raised his hand, his fingers skimmed along Quatre’s jawline, up into Quatre’s hair. "Can I kiss you?" his whisper husky, low and deep.
Quatre tilted his head back; the ghost of a grin crossed his lips. "Lose the hat," he was saying, "then we’ll talk."
With minimal movement, the old Stetson sailed off behind him, and Trowa pressed forward, touching his mouth to Quatre’s, his eyes opened and watching. It was the slightest brush of flesh, and Trowa hovered, waiting. Heart beating loudly, the rush of breath from his lungs mixed with that of Quatre’s and Quatre’s gaze flicked from his eyes to his mouth and back.
"I couldn’t forget you."
And Trowa pushed his lips to Quatre’s again, closing his eyes and letting the kiss linger. Fingers hooked in his belt loops and he was jerked forward, pulled into Quatre, rocking the cabinet and knocking the tree on its side. His hand held Quatre’s head, his mouth opened, sucking Quatre’s tongue inside his own mouth.
And Quatre was grunting, moaning. Trowa’s shirt was bunched in a fist and his buttocks were being pushed, driving his hips forward. The file cabinet rocked again. His hand gripped the metal edge and he pulled back, touching tongue to the split in his lip.
"I can’t leave... not until..." Trowa’s chest expanded and contracted in time with Quatre’s.
"As soon as Dad’s company is sold, I’m moving. It’s going to take some time." Quatre was staring at him; his hands were still clutching his shirt, his ass.
Trowa was nodding even as he leaned in for another kiss. "I’m not going anywhere."
Quatre was smiling, pressing forward, giving his own kiss. "And I’ll be back." He kissed Trowa again. "Often."
Quatre’s wrist in his hand, Trowa lead him down the hall to his small room. Outside the wind had picked up, blowing dust devils across the field and pelting the trailer, scouring the paint even dingier.