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fic - a hard day's work [haven] - the turnip patch
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fic - a hard day's work [haven]
Title:  A Hard Day's Work
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  The guys get some late night exercise, and work out some jitters.

A Hard Day's Work
A Moment of Haven

Duo rushed toward the stairs with the duffle still swinging from the momentum of his pickup, but paused at the top.  At the bottom, leaning lazily against the rail, Heero lifted nonchalant eyes but for a moment before returning his attention to the junk mail they'd dropped on the small table in their little foyer earlier that afternoon.  It would make its way to the recycling bin tomorrow.

Seeing that there was obviously no reason to hurry, Duo rolled his eyes just a little and took the time to zip up the bag properly as he made his descent.  A few steps from the bottom, he dropped the pack over the rail by Heero's feet before getting his t-shirt flipped right-side out, gaze straying toward the ad Heero was looking at.  He snickered and struck a manly pose, flexing his muscles a bit.  "Hey, what do you think?"

Heero glanced up and did something of a double take before a faint crease took up residence on his brow.  A few seconds thought had him looking at the department store ad in his hand and realizing that Duo was imitating the demeanor of the men's underwear model.  He shook his head and suppressed a smile.  "You look nothing like him."

"What, not enough?"  Duo flexed a little more and tried to look a little more brainless.  He earned himself only a small laugh.  In retaliation, he leaned over the rail to cuff Heero softly on the back of the head.

Heero laughed again, and stuck a finger in the middle of the model's chest.  "He looks like he works out."  Setting the ad down on the table beside him, he reached up and snagged the end of Duo's braid that was hanging over his bare shoulder.  "You, on the other hand, look like a guy who knows the meaning of a hard day's work."

Duo let Heero pull him down lightly for a kiss.  "So isn't it kind of ironic, then, that we're about to go and work out?"

"We'd never look like this guy."  He took advantage of Duo's position to plant a kiss on his shoulder before releasing the braid.  "That's not our body type.  Now finish putting your shirt on, and let's get going."

Not before a kiss to Heero's forehead.  Duo discharged that solemn duty first, then obediently pulled his shirt on.  His action became somehow contemplative halfway through.  "We don't really get too many hard days of work anymore, do we?  Even if we were, I dunno, still doing construction work or something.  It still wouldn't measure up to... what we used to do."

Heero bumped shoulders with him as he came level.  "That doesn't bother me, losing a little muscle mass."

Duo bumped back on his way to his shoes.  "Well, I guess it doesn't bother me, either.  But... even if you spent every day teaching hand-to-hand, it still wouldn't be the same unless you were really fighting for real, not just sparring or training.  Kinda irritates me or something that there's no way we can keep on looking like we know a hard day's work.  Not like knowing that kind of thing just goes away.  The only alternative is working out?  That's just... cheating or something.  I don't know.  What do they call it these days?  You see it sometimes in the magazines at the market by the registers...?"  He tied his shoelaces thoughtfully.  "Body sculpting.  That was it.  Body sculpting!  I don't want to body sculpt!  That's just lame, man."

"There's nothing lame about keeping ourselves in shape, being ready to get back into 'hard day's work' mode at any moment, if such a moment should come up.  Even when we still worked in the field, we did these sorts of exercises, didn't we?"

"Yeah, yeah, spare me the rosy lecture."  He pulled the lightly packed duffle over his head and secured it diagonally across his chest.  "This is the norm, and all that field work we did was the exception.  Not the other way around, I know.  Come on, let's go."

"I feel betrayed, Heero."

"Oh?"  Heero wasn't sharing the feeling.

"Yes!"  Duo pointed accusingly at the modern looking contraption in front of them.  "Where did that... that... that *thing* come from?"

Heero moseyed over to read the flyer attached to the 'thing'.  "Hmm... some people nearly hurt themselves bench pressing recently, so they've decided to swap it out with this 'complete workout machine' instead.  Less room for human error."

Duo dropped the duffle grumpily on the bench and poked half-heartedly at the pulleys and bolts.  "Looks like it's got a lot of configurations, I guess, but... it's so... so..."


"Exactly.  You choose one specific set of muscles and you pretty them up."

Heero shrugged, bending to inspect the variety of weights offered to them.  "When you wanted the muscles to haul yourself up a rope with only your arms, you worked on those muscles."

"By climbing a rope a hundred boring times a day.  Not by sitting at a machine."  Something about this discussion didn't seem right.  Duo puzzled over it for a moment before he realized what it was.  "Hey, you like things 'all natural', don't you?  No extraneous gadgets and gizmos and stuff for things you can do without.  You're just playing devil's advocate."

"I'm just being practical."  He added a couple of weights to the machine's balance.  "Not to mention, non-hypocritical.  It's not as if we've never discussed getting something like this for ourselves.  That should do it.  Have a go at it."

Duo seated himself reluctantly.  "You know I don't like having decisions made for me."

"I know."  His expression was fond as he examined the assemblage critically to make sure all seemed properly secure.  Everything seemed to be in order as Duo began pushing against resistance.  Satisfied, Heero headed toward the bar located nearby.

"See?" Duo added, spacing his words in time with his workout.  The machine may have been a little frou-frou by his standards, but that didn't mean it didn't do its job.  "This also means you don't get to spot me anymore."

Heero jumped lightly to catch the bar, firmed his grip, and pulled himself up.  "So?  Not as if you've ever needed it."

"Aw, come on, I know you liked watching me."

He snorted.  It wasn't exactly untrue, though it could have benefited from a little less leer.  There was nothing salacious about appreciating a healthy human body going about its business with grace and efficiency.  "Then I can watch you just fine from here."

"So far away," Duo lamented.  And he didn't get to observe Heero's exertions unless he turned his head.  "Wouldn't you rather be up close and personal?"

"Not here, no."  They may have visited the gym of the rec center at night to make sure there would be no one else around, but it was still a public place.

Duo smiled lopsidedly.  "Later, then.  I can model in my underwear for you and you can tell me how much better I look than that guy in the ad."

"It's what's inside that's beautiful, Duo."

And here he'd thought he'd managed to beat that pious spirituality out of Heero.  But then a flash of insight ambushed him and he glanced to his partner.  The small smile playing on the edge of Heero's lips confirmed it, and he chuckled.  "Well, I guess I can model what's inside my underwear, too, if you insist."

A little more than some hands-off modeling might be nice, Heero thought.  They were only just starting to gain back some of their pre-vacation momentum and hadn't yet revisited the territory last explored during their little adventure in front of the fireplace.  But he needed to hide a wince before he could voice something to that effect.  He discreetly shifted most of the work to his right arm, leaving him only a distracted answer.  "I just might insist."

Duo had made a habit of Heero-watching.  He'd had his eyes on that sexy half-smirk of Heero's, the one that tugged at a corner of his mouth and crinkled the skin at the corner of his eye, and he'd marked the moment its tone subtly altered, turning into something closer to a grimace before the expression was wiped clean.  Duo looked for hints elsewhere to explain the brief lapse, and noted the unbalanced flex of Heero's muscles.  He slowed his repetitions and tried a casual approach.  "Showing off with the one-armed pull-ups, eh?"

Heero's eyes focused on him for only a second before his concentration turned in a more inwards direction.  "I know you like to watch."

"Much as I appreciate the show, Heero..."  He stopped his exercises altogether.  "...did your arm just spasm?"  The lack of response was a telling response itself.  Duo sighed and swung his leg over the bench.  "Heero, stop."

"Not done yet."

"Heero."  When that also failed to garner a response, Duo got off the seat and walked to a point directly in front of his stubborn whatever-Heero-was.  "Come on, Heero.  Just stop already."

There was one last defiant pull-up before Heero dropped to his feet, looking both faintly annoyed and faintly guilty.  "I was going easy on it."

Duo took Heero's upper left arm in hand before rubbing firmly.  "Why do you always have to push things?"

"As if you're one to talk."

"Yeah, well, I have a multitude of personality flaws to back me up, Heero.  You just think it's okay."

"My left arm is already weaker than my right.  Favoring it will only reinforce that."

Sure, it was practical, and all that stupid stuff, and yes, maybe it was a little hypocritical for Duo to stop him, given his earlier words on a hard day's work, but none of that meant that Heero had to keep on going when there was a possibility for causing more harm than good.  Some other weakness might have allowed Heero to stop, but that of his left arm seemed to goad him more than the others.  Duo smoothed his fingers over the uneven scar there.  It wasn't loud enough to invite immediate notice, else Heero would never still be wearing those tank tops of his in public, but the wound had been deep and taken a long time to heal.  He didn't know how much muscle damage there was underneath.  "You know what they say about old wounds that keep on hurting.  It's because the wound still bothers you.  Mentally, you know?"

A sharp exhalation let him know just what Heero thought about that, but the pause afterward was thoughtful, not disdainful.  "It doesn't bother me.  No more than it ever has, I suppose."

"I'm pretty sure it probably bothers me more than it bothers you."  He could sort of understand Heero's decision to sacrifice his life for the cause so easily, but it was something that was a unique product of all that Heero was.  In that light, Duo could understand it, but he would never know it for himself.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be silly.  We are what we are.  Don't apologize for that."

"You won't be saying that, the next time I piss you off."

Duo laughed softly.  "Yeah, well, don't take what I say when I'm pissed off too seriously, yeah?"  He pressed his lips to the scar.  "There.  I've kissed it all better."

"I don't suppose that means you'll let me finish my set?"

He snorted.  Yuy with hopeful eyes was cute, but unpersuasive.  "As if."

Heero reclaimed his arm and brought it across his chest in a light stretch.  "Well, let's get on with the sparring then."

That had indeed been on tonight's schedule, but Duo felt reluctant to indulge.  "We haven't played a good game of ball, lately."  Sensing Heero's resistance, he pushed forward.  "We play hard, Heero.  I'm sure it'll get your heart pumping."

"I know, but..."  He avoided eye contact for a few seconds.  "We'll be starting work soon..."

Duo shook his head and put a hand on Heero's shoulder.  "You are so ready to teach that class, Heero.  You have nothing to worry about.  There's no way anyone in that class could kick your ass, and even if someone did, it wouldn't matter, because it'd be an educational experience, for both you and the class."

"We're going to be teaching people, Duo."  Heero's voice held a note of wonder.  "Teaching.  Us."

"I know."  A little bit of nervousness bubbled up inside him.  "Crazy, huh?  Definitely nothing like what I thought we'd be doing.  Then again, I never thought we'd be doing any of this."  His fingers caressed Heero's shoulder before his hand fell back to a neutral position.  "But you're a great teacher, Heero.  Ami certainly loves you."

"Ami is... Ami.  But these people, our students, they're going to be going out into the field and using the skills we teach them."

"These are high-level courses, Heero.  Refresher courses, or reaccreditation courses, or whatever they called them.  Not like these people are rookies.  They should already know all the basic stuff they need to survive.  Anything we have to teach them is... hopefully stuff they'll never have to use."

"Maybe."  He looked over at the blue mats in the corner.  "I guess we don't have to spar.  For what I'm worried about, sparring with you probably won't help anyway."

"Oh?  What's that?"

Heero was silent for a few long seconds before his expression grew rueful.  "I'm going to have to deal with... 'people', Duo.  I don't have the best people skills."

Duo smiled.  "Not like you're going to be teaching hostage negotiation, Yuy."  His imagination ran amok with the image for a little bit before he reined it.  "You'll probably be doing most of your talking with your body.  You talk good with your body."

The cheerful little leer tacked on to the comment drew amusement out of him.  "I suppose I'll just need to get them to respect me.  If they respect me, they'll be more willing to forgive me my... quirks."

"If that's the case, you really have nothing to worry about.  They'd have to be complete idiots not to respect you, and if that's the case, you can go ahead and wipe the floor with their asses so either way, you'll come out on top.  So."  He pretended to crack his knuckles.  "How about that ball game?"

It took a few seconds, but Heero eventually agreed without any further apprehension.

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4 comments or Leave a comment
berneynator From: berneynator Date: February 5th, 2010 09:32 am (UTC) (Link)

Review, Part VI

I am amused by Duo’s impression of a squid, and his attempt to apply suction on Heero. Wufei’s right, when you know, everything is a sign. I mean, I have a little trouble imagining this Duo being quite so physically intimate with any of the other pilots. They’re not playgrounds for him.

Wow, Heero really can feel guilty about anything, can’t he? I mean, retroactive guilt over penguins? It almost makes me wonder if he’s putting Duo on, except I don’t really think he’d joke about death. I mean, yes, it is sad for the penguins, but I think Duo’s argument that ice cracks and shifts naturally is a cogent one. As long as the penguins weren’t actually present, it seems like a reach to claim responsibility for destroying their lives.

The bit about how only Duo is allowed to molest Heero’s hair, or indeed any part of him, made me laugh. Quatre’s questions are definitely getting a bit weird, though. I wouldn’t have thought him the type for prurient interest, so I wonder what’s going on with him? And it’s too bad that everyone seems to assume that Heero and Duo are together simply because of proximity. Well, not Wufei, but the other two. That seems to kind of cheapen what they have. I guess it’s just hard for Quatre and Trowa to grasp, because they haven’t seen all the minute changes in Duo and Heero’s relationship. Since they see each other so infrequently, it must seem like an enormous and baseless change, rather than a gradual and logical progression – as logical as love can be, anyway. With Heero I guess it can be very much so!

Okay, I guess I know what’s behind Quatre’s somewhat intrusive curiosity now. It really is nerdy of them to make chess their drinking game of choice. Now I want to know what may or may not have gone on between Quatre and Trowa! Did you actually have something in mind when you wrote that, or was it only a tease? Either way, it worked!

“the great pseudo-random number generator in the sky” – wow, that is rather spectacularly geeky. Of course, since I knew exactly what they were talking about… you amuse me greatly.

It’s kind of nice to see the boys back in Haven. Father Mackenzie knows Duo pretty well by now, to realize he needs something to do while he talks. And the sacrifice of an apple turnover before dinner! That’s dedication right there : )

It’s interesting seeing Heero and Duo unsure of themselves – competence is not something they’re accustomed to lacking, or even doubting. Romantically, sure, but their own ability to accomplish something? Given their track record, it’d be odd for them not to be used to getting things right. I’m sure they’ll succeed at teaching as in everything else, but they are cute when they are uncertain, and when they’re reassuring each other.

It’s oddly sweet to see Duo fussing over Heero. It really brings home how much they’ve changed, that they have the time and mindset to coddle an injury, rather than work through it – although, granted, it’s easier to mandate that for the other than stick to it themselves.

Looks like something fairly big is coming, so I’ll stop here. Needless to say, you're a fantastic writer!
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 5th, 2010 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Review, Part VI

Reading the xmas stuff over again, I feel like I didn't do a very good job of explaining just why Quatre was acting so weird, and I'm not sure if I just wasn't doing a good job, or if I did that on purpose.  Hmm.  To summarize, Quatre had been feeling the lack of a personal life lately, which already put him in a grumpy mood when he got there.  It only made him feel even more out of touch with his friends when he found out he had failed to notice that Heero and Duo were in a relationship now, and then even more so when he couldn't readily wrap his head around it.  It just reinforced how little he'd been able to hang out with his friends, so his relentless pursuit of trying to 'figure them out' was sort of like a desperate attempt to get back to the point where he was in tune with them.  Alas, he's also been sort of out of tune with himself, which in large part contributed to his lack of tune with the others, so his 'desperate attempts' were sort of all over the place.  It's been a while since he's emotionally connected with someone, so it's hard for him to get back into that headspace and see it in others.

All in all, none of them had ever really thought that relationships would be all that possible for them, given who they are.  But somehow Heero and Duo found a way around that, and suddenly everyone's perspectives started to shift and they started getting a little curious about how it all worked and what it could all mean for themselves.

Heero wasn't really upset about the penguins, per se... it's really more like... of all the places in the world, you'd think that Antarctica wouldn't be a war zone, but somehow, yes, he was partially responsible for bringing the war there and destroying one of the last peaceful places on Earth.  Yeah, it was just one battle, and Antarctica is vast, but still.  You can't pretend like it's just an giant ice field, and therefore meaningless.  Penguins and other creatures live out there.

Heh, I know exactly what Quatre said to Trowa that night... we'll see if it surfaces one day. ^_^

Funny thing about the pseudo-random number generator in the sky... I mean, we find it unbearably geeky by most standards, but I don't think they necessarily would all the time.  We tend to make jokes or draw analogies or whatever based on our personal experiences and knowledge and so forth.  I have to think that for the both of them, engineering and physics and math and computers would be on the tip of their tongues.  Then again, I write from the spectacularly geeky point of view of someone who joined math club in high school because of peer pressure, so I may just be biased. ^^'
berneynator From: berneynator Date: February 6th, 2010 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Review, Part VI

...you can be peer pressured into math club? I guess I learn something new every day. I was sufficiently oblivious in high school that I probably just wouldn't have noticed.

Thank you for the explanations about Quatre and the others - I like him, usually, and it felt odd to be annoyed at him. It's neat that you have such detailed insight into exactly what is going on that might cause the characters to react subconsciously in a particualar way. I guess that's what it means to be a really good writer - although I have to admit, it doesn't matter to me how much depth and insight there is if an author has no grasp of grammar or spelling, or the motivation to find a beta. I hate that! So thank you for such utterly readable stories, completely apart from their lovely content.

Good point that in the context of their experience,'the great number generator in the sky' may seem like a perfectly reasonable expression. Just another example of how in tune you seem with everything that's going on in the background! Color me impressed.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: February 7th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Review, Part VI

Heh, all my friends were doing it.  I'd managed to stay away from it for two years, but then they sucked me into joining.  Can't say it was really much more than a nerd social activity, though.  Wasn't like there was mad crazy studying for competitions going on all the time.  We mostly hung out, and oh yeah, solved some problems once in a while. ^_^ *issuchanerd*

I admit... I have no beta.  I'm just that anal on my own. ^^ I personally believe that having the characters analyzed enough to know how they would react in any given situation actually makes them easier to write.  It takes all the guesswork out of things, and it actually takes some of the 'gosh i don't know what happens next!' out of it.  Once you know what makes them tick, you just have to plug in the variables of your given situation and see what their characterization function spits out on the other side. ^_^ *isreallysuperdupernerdy*

Interestingly enough, this also allows me to essentially use the same characterizations in all of my fics, more or less.  It's just a matter of plugging in different situational variables to account for the different plots or settings.  And, when you write things as long as I tend to, it's important to have them nailed down in my head so I can avoid inconsistency!
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