When he lugged the metal heap home from the market place, I laughed. As he struggled to find parts, I snickered in amusement, and the day I found him scrubbing the paint stains from his hands, I didn't say a word. By that time, I thought it might have been more than a passing fancy, and let him alone.
On a warm, late spring, Sunday morning shortly after breakfast, he had made his request of me. Believing he'd lost what marbles rolled around in his head, I reluctantly gave in. A few minutes later, we stood in the yard looking at his latest project. He'd continued to speak, telling me what his plan was and where we would go. I barely heard him, trying to come up with an excuse, some reason no matter how absurd to get out of what he wanted to do.
I don't know why I was so unwilling; I enjoyed biking, and with Heero along, it was that much better. I was being ridiculous, I know, for I had always been the one pushing Heero to do more - to spend more time with me. And here he was, after working the past three or four weeks to repair the …bike, wanting me to join him on the trail outside town and have lunch somewhere down the line.
Heero had been excited about it. Well, excited in a mild sort of way. He showed me the set of saddlebags he'd purchased and where he'd installed the water-bottle clamps; he had even modified its gears and pedals to fit our individual styles. I was impressed by his industry, but not by the look of two-seater tandem bicycle. Its frame a metallic blue, accessories in black, and the rest trimmed in chrome, Heero had spared no detail in fixing it.
My gaze alternated between Heero and the tandem with the only hint to my internal battle being the widening of my eyes. I tried to let him know how awkward I felt even thinking of riding a tandem, telling him it was - silly. When his face lost its animated expression, I knew I couldn't let him down; I'd done worse in my life for a lot less. I agreed to be his biking partner and while he packed our lunch and filled the water bottles, I went to change.
He waited for me in the drive, bent over one of the bike's seats making a modification of some sort. Stepping off the front porch, I spotted him and stopped dead in my tracks. The man was wearing spandex. I couldn't move; hell I couldn't breathe for a minute there. I hadn't seen him in those shorts since we were both fifteen. At least he wore a white tank top and not the olive green he used to wear. Heero must have heard me make a noise, or felt me ogling him from behind, for he straightened and looked at me. Seeing my bemused expression, he cocked an eyebrow. I gave him a small shrug, preferring to keep my thoughts to myself.
I pulled on the protective gear Heero handed me, feeling silly but doing it for him. After adjusting my braid, I strapped my helmet down, and looked to him for further instructions. He indicated I was to take the back, and, while I stood astride the frame, he made minute adjustments to the seat. We practiced riding up and down the street a few times before he declared us ready to tackle the main trail a couple of blocks from our house. I wasn't so sure, but at least we weren't wobbling any longer.
Not much can be said about the ride; the warm morning turned into a hot day and after a couple of hours, both our shirts were plastered to our backs. My nose was beginning to sting in a pre-burn, and I wanted to kick myself for not thinking of sunscreen.
On a level stretch of the trail, I sat back coasting, and let the wind blow through my bangs while I drank from my water bottle, watching Heero pump away at the pedals. With his shirt stuck to his back, I could see his muscles bunch and flex; my eyes slid downward as they rippled, coming to rest where his tank-top pulled away from those black spandex shorts. The air was suddenly hotter.
In self-preservation, I'd put those kinds of feelings away, tucked somewhere safe until such a time I believed Heero ready to welcome them. Having the object of my admiration literally at my fingertips for the past two hours, my control was rapidly weakening. I wanted Heero, if only to touch him… just for a moment. I did what I always did when faced with an extreme dilemma - I played the joker card.
Without missing a beat, Heero whipped out his bottle faster than I could track, and had it squirting over his shoulder in retaliation. Ducking and weaving to avoid the stream, I almost caused us to crash. My partner's skill, no matter the danger, never ceased to amaze me, he had the bike steady and back to speed - never stopping his assault on me. At least the water was cool and Heero spared me a laugh over his shoulder.
We stopped a short time later at a small wayside off the trail. A rest stop of sorts had been made, complete with a water spigot and lavatory. Immediately shedding my helmet and shirt, wondering why I'd grabbed a black T in the first place, I turned on the water, and splashed it over my head and shoulders, feeling instantly refreshed. Heero'd followed suit, and stood waiting for me to finish making like a fish. He used his shirt to wipe at the sweat gleaming on his naked chest while his other hand combed out his hair, leaving it to stand straight up stiffened with sweat. I'd be hard pressed to remember when I'd seen him looking better.
Bypassing the two picnic tables, we settled under a tree. Heero had the saddlebag opened and passed juice and a couple of sandwiches to me. I was hungry enough it didn't matter that he used mustard instead of mayonnaise; they went down just as quick. After satisfying the grumble, I felt better and looked around, now comfortable and cool. I had said something to Heero about how different being here was after the heat on the trail.
It took me a moment to realize he hadn't responded, and in looking at him, I could see he was only holding his sandwich and not really eating it. The scenery's pretty, he'd said, his gaze off on the trail.
My view was pretty damn nice, I'd replied. He glanced at me then; he must have heard the humor tinged with lust in my tone.
Are you having fun, he'd asked, worry etched on his face. I nodded and assured him I was enjoying the ride. Your nose, he'd said and searched through the bag once again. When he'd found what he was looking for, he held up a tube of zinc based stuff. I never expected him to rubbed it on my nose for me.
In all too short a time, Heero'd pulled me up and we were refilling our water bottles from the fountain, getting ready to head back. I put my shirt back on but was surprised to see Heero tuck his into the nearly empty saddlebag. The return trip promised to be interesting indeed.
Hypnotic, the ripple of the muscles on his back; the visual broken only by the slick trail from a bead of sweat. I watched as he'd rise in his seat to lean low over the handlebars, and give his legs additional leverage to pump up the steep inclines. At one point, I had to close my eyes, shutting out images his spandex covered ass gave me; my foot had slipped off its pedal, making us lose our rhythm.
About the time we were within a mile of home, I had an epiphany of sorts. Our lives together, Heero's and mine, has been shaped and changed minutely along the way. There have been many incidents that Heero or I had been reluctant in attempting something new and we'd have to be cajoled into trying. Likewise, we were there for each other, in one way or another, as a helping hand, to lend laughter or extend nourishment. And when one of us was distracted, the other was ready to provide the stability, keeping us both on course.
We worked well in tandem. And not just a bike ride either.