"Why is it we always get stuck with this truck?" Duo asked without even attempting to keep the whine from his voice.
Trowa ignored him for the moment, navigated the right hand turn and moved into the left lane. It had been the third time that week they had been assigned the older model truck. Looking at his partner, Trowa didn’t have to imagine whose fault that was.
"What’d you do to Hilde this time?"
"Nothing!" Duo slumped back in the vinyl seat. "She can’t still be mad. And it worked, so you can’t blame me this time."
Wiping the sweat from his brow with a swipe of his arm, Trowa snorted his answer. The summer had barely begun, and it was hot; their truck had no air and even with the windows down, the humidity made it impossible to enjoy even the faintest of breezes.
Duo slipped out of his tee shirt. "You know it worked. She was always going on about that girl from accounting, and I just provided the opportunity for them to get to know each other."
"Locking them in the repair shed isn’t exactly what I’d call meeting under the optimal conditions." Trowa glanced over the delivery schedule again, and shot the clipboard back in its holder. "We’ve got time for lunch. Want to grab it now or after the next drop off?"
"It still worked," Duo groused and flipped his bangs from his face. "Better stop now. The next delivery has a full bedroom set, and it’ll take a couple of hours to set it up." His arm on the window frame, he banged softly on door panel keeping with music he heard from a nearby car. "Damn thing doesn’t even have a radio." He glared at the empty slots.
"I’ll talk to Quatre when he gets back." Trowa eyed Duo easing the truck to a stop at a red. "He seemed to think Hilde thought it time well spent."
Duo laughed softly. The beat he’d been keeping was becoming louder and he looked down at the vehicle in the lane over. A late model black convertible carried a driver who caught Duo’s interest more than any song. Leaning out the window, he called out over the traffic, "What’s the band’s name?"
The head turned, sunglasses covering eyes Duo wanted to see, full mouth turned down in a frown, and dark brown hair tousled from the wind. The driver glanced to the light and back. "Dark Matter." His answer was loud without shouting.
"I’ve never heard of them. They indy?" Duo was half hanging out the window, hoping for a better look of the driver.
"Local," the driver said, his lips twisting upward on one side.
The light changed, and the car accelerated, the truck made slow progress off the start. Duo threw himself back inside and glowered at Trowa. "Put a move on before we lose him."
"You’re not seriously trying to pick up someone from out the truck window, are you?" Trowa shook his head. His friend had done worse, but at the moment, he was hard pressed to remember what.
"Won’t be much of a pick up if you don’t step on it." Duo was leaning forward, his eyes fixed on the black car just ahead of them.
Trowa shifted gears and moved a few more car lengths. "How do you know he’d be interested in you? What if he’s married?"
"No ring," Duo told him without turning away. His hand beat an increasingly agitated rhythm on the door panel as though it would help the truck along.
"It’s things like that that keep us in the bad truck," Trowa commented. "Where do you want to eat, Romeo?"
"Doesn’t matter." He kept his eyes glued to the dark head now only one car in front. "Turn red. Come on baby, turn red," he coaxed the next light. As the color flipped, and the black convertible rolled to a stop with their truck along side again, his jubilant shout could be heard across both lanes of traffic.
The convertible’s driver was smiling up at him when he hung out the window again. "Win the lottery?" he asked.
Duo grinned maniacally. "Something like that." He shot a look at the traffic light and said in a rush, "Hey, we’re about to stop for lunch. I’m buying if you’re interested." His casual cool delivery was spoiled at the truck lurched forward; the light had changed to green. Casting daggers behind him, he offered a silent threat to his partner.
The driver kept pace with the truck, looking over at Duo still draped half out its open window. Finally he gave a short nod. "I’m interested."
"Good!" Duo all but shouted. He drew back inside to instruct Trowa where to stop and went back watching the dark haired man maneuver into position behind them. When the small sit-down restaurant came into sight, he slipped his shirt back over his head, turned to Trowa and asked, "Could you loan me a twenty?"
Shooting him a look, Trowa said, "I thought you were treating."
"Just until we hit a cash box," Duo told him a bit sheepishly.
"Whatever, big spender." The amusement was heavy in his tone.
In the parking lot, Trowa and Duo waited at the front bumper. The convertible had followed them, but pulled into a slot under one of the trees on the far side of the lot; its driver closed the top. Shaking his head, Trowa turned away.
"That’s a fucking Bemmer, Duo."
"If you think the car’s hot, just get a load of the guy," Duo told him, his look still riveted to the car.
"I’m going inside. It’s too fucking hot out here," Trowa announced, leaving Duo on his own. Duo only nodded, suddenly in motion, crossing the parking lot to meet his date. Trowa snorted and entered the mom and pop joint.
Inside, he stood for a minute reveling in the air like a late fall day. He was smiling for the first time since leaving the warehouse that morning. Finding an empty booth within sight of the door, he waved to the waitress and pointed his destination. On his second refill of water, Duo walked in, head turned back with his mouth going. Trowa pushed his menu away, gave Duo a wave, and glanced at the guy following. And did a double take. Made him wish he’d let Duo drive that morning, though Trowa knew he’d never have hung out the window let alone long enough to ask someone to lunch.
Trowa was introduced through the shuffling of sitting and menus and water glasses. And in the midst of it, the waitress came for their order. Duo was ordering what he always did; Trowa tried a different sandwich and Heero mimicked Duo’s order, sans onions. Trowa hid his smile behind a drink and distracted Duo from staring at Heero with a tap to the plastic CD case.
With another look in Heero’s direction, Duo said, "This is the band Heero was listening to. Their sound is great! So Heero gave me a copy of their CD." He was grinning at Trowa and then at Heero. "We’re going to catch a show tomorrow night at the Vue."
"The Vue?" Trowa looked up from the song titles listed on the back to find Duo looking at Heero again.
"It’s a club off West Hollywood," Heero was answering. "The management caters to local bands and this group has a chance to make it."
"Heero has tickets already..." Duo looked between Heero and Trowa. "You wouldn’t want to go, would you?"
Trowa sat back, giving the waitress room for his plate. "You’re old enough to not need a chaperon, Duo." Heero laughed, even as he accepted his plate from the waitress and Duo kicked Trowa under the table.
"Asshole," Duo was muttering. "Try to be a friend and get snubbed." He shook a bent fry at Trowa. "Guarantied I won’t be thinking of you tomorrow night!"
Leaning over the table slightly, Trowa ate the fry from Duo’s fingers. "I should hope not," he said around the bite. "Heero would be a little disappointed."
"Hey!" Duo’s eyes widened and he shot a hurried look at Heero. But Heero was watching him, amused and waiting. "I’ll have to make sure to not disappoint Heero."
Heero was answering Duo, but Trowa stopped listening. He’d finished his sandwich somewhere in the middle of Duo’s story on how he was kicked out of school, academic suspension for the semester and on probation to make up class time before he’d be accepted back full time.
Trowa filched a fry from Duo’s plate and looked at his watch. Duo had barely touched his burger and Heero had only taken a bite from his. Trowa swiped another fry; Duo still hadn’t threatened him, his attention on what Heero was saying.
"Duo," he finally interrupted. "We have two more deliveries scheduled for today."
Rather than look guilty, Duo was looking a little too smug. Trowa stood and pulled out his wallet. "I’ll just take care of the check," he was saying as both Heero and Duo reached into back pockets. "And meet you at the truck."
"Trowa! Wait," Duo was scrambling out of the booth and Trowa waved him off with a "pay me back later".
He was waiting outside the driver’s side door when the two walked from the restaurant. Duo looked at him and back to Heero; he was holding the CD and a white styrofoam container. Heero was putting his sunglasses on, and reached out to grip Duo’s arm, high on the biceps. Trowa nearly rolled his eyes but opened the truck door instead and climbed inside. Rather than a chaperon, Duo needed a guidance counselor.
Duo was laughing as Heero walked away. It wasn’t until Heero had unlocked his door, and the convertible top was rolling back that Duo jogged to the truck, though he continued to watch over his shoulder swinging up onto his seat.
"Christ, Duo. You’re seeing the guy tomorrow night."
"Nope!" Duo was grinning at him. "He’s picking me up for dinner at seven."
Trowa laughed, put the truck in drive and pulled out of the parking lot. Heero gave a short honk and a wave as he turned off; Trowa pressed on his horn in return, and Duo shouted out the window.
Friday afternoon traffic was beginning to thicken, and two days off from driving in the heat, without lifting and moving furniture would be as close to heaven as he could get - at least until Quatre returned from his business trip.
Trowa’s morning started off bad. Alarm clock was late in going off, shower too fast, no breakfast and stalled traffic worked to make him ten minutes late. He punched in, grabbed the assignment log and the attached truck keys and went looking for Duo.
The man was perched on a crate near the loading bay, a takeout cup of coffee in a designer label cradled in his hands. Trowa stopped to look at him a moment and shook his head grinning. He gave a whistle, shouting over the din of the warehouse, "Maxwell wake up! Bay thirteen!"
Duo jumped from the crate, and they walked to the loading bay together. "Bad weekend, boss?"
"You could say that," Trowa started, looking up from the list of morning deliveries. "Cathy stopped by yesterday and you know..." his steps slowed and he reached a hand out to grab Duo’s arm. "What. The fuck. Did you do?"
They had been assigned the oldest truck - again.
"Nothing! I swear!"
Duo looked like he was about to go have it out with Hilde but Trowa waved toward the truck. "Let’s just get this over with. Talk to her when we get back. Fuck."
"Shit." Duo tossed his coffee away. "Okay, let’s see what we’ve got," he said, climbing in the back of the truck.
As Trowa began reading off the list of delivery items, Duo verified the truck contents down to the bags of nuts and bolts and the extra tool kit for the custom washer-dryer combo set.
"We’ll start with the delivery to Cordez first. It’s that set of chairs and the table grouping. At least the rest of this shit goes to the same place. Two deliveries. Not bad." Trowa looked from the delivery sheet to watch Duo add an extra tie down to a vanity set. "New tee shirt from Saturday?"
Duo was grinning and wagged his brows in Trowa’s direction. "Fuck..." Trowa started laughing. "You got fucking laid, didn’t you?"
"Yep." Duo hopped out of the truck and reached for the door handle. "Several times." The door slammed home, and Duo shot the safety catch. "Plan on getting laid again tonight too." He threw a smirk in Trowa’s direction and headed for the cab.
His morning was sucking, and it’d be another week before he got laid. "I wondered why you weren’t wearing your Caterpillars." He climbed in, slid the clipboard in its slot and started the truck.
"Yeah, didn’t get the chance to go home yesterday." Duo was yawning, strapping on his seat belt. "About Cathy," he was looking at Trowa from under his bangs and Trowa glared at him, putting the truck in drive. "Your sister’s right, you know. You do need to think about what you’re going to do."
"Not you too, Duo." Trowa pulled into traffic and rolled his window down. "She brought the fucking Sunday paper. We argued over the want ads for two hours last night."
"It’s alright for me to monkey around for a few months in this job," Duo turned from the window to look at him. "I don’t have a degree - yet. You spent too much time to be wasting it away on..."
"Save the lecture," Trowa interrupted. "I sent out a few resumes last night."
Duo was smiling in his direction. "We’ve got a little bit of time. Why don’t we stop at Cuppa Joe’s? I could use some more coffee."
Trowa nodded and pulled into the drive-thru. The morning was starting to look better already.
It was more closer to two than one when their morning deliveries were finished. The customized washer-dryer set-up hadn’t been ready, and it took an extra hour to complete. Tired, hungry and hot, Trowa pulled up to the warehouse and started to curse. Someone had parked in their bay.
Duo roused and turned to look at Trowa and then the problem.
"Shit. Just what we need." He was pulling his shirt back on as Trowa found an empty spot to park. "Fuckin’ take us forever to get them out of there." Duo grabbed the delivery log and Trowa shut down the truck.
Hilde was standing on the loading dock when Trowa and Duo climbed the stairs. She was leaning against the back of the truck, delivery assignment sheets in hand, and grinning. It was the grinning that nearly had Trowa turning around.
"‘bout time you boys decided to come back," she was saying, flipping a set of keys around on her finger. "I’ve been waiting for you."
Trowa eyed Duo and Duo shrugged. "Wasn’t me, I swear," he muttered under his breath.
She pushed off from the truck and walked towards them, keys still swirling in circles. "A little over a month ago, Big Boss gives the okay to order a new truck," she started to grin as both Trowa and Duo look at it, "with the stipulation it goes out with a set crew." She tossed the keys at Trowa who caught them in a backhanded sweep. "It’s got all the bells and whistles boys. But if you put so much as a scratch on her, I’ll kick your asses."
Duo let out a whoop, jumped from the dock and yanked opened the passenger door. "It’s got a stereo, Tro! And AC and oh fuck!" He was climbing up inside the truck, continuing to yell out what he was finding inside.
Trowa looked down at the keys in his hand and smiled. Hilde was laughing, handing him the delivery sheets and told him to get a move on, they were ready to roll. She was nearly out of the bay before she stopped and turned around.
"Forgot to mention, your boyfriend called. Said the meetings finished early and he’ll be flying in tonight."
Trowa watched her for a moment and started for the truck.
The afternoon was looking much better after all.