Where All Roads Lead...
"I'll have to order the part," the mechanic drawled as he wiped greasy hands on a rag. "I don't keep 'nuthing in stock for a fancy bike like that.Might take...oh... two...three days."
"Not acceptable," Heero growled.His expression was as dark and as dangerous as the black storm clouds roiling over the desert.
The mechanic looked nervous, stuffed his rag into a back pocket of his overalls, and then tried, "Doris has a nice motel. It's clean and not hurtful on the wallet..."
"No. I need to get home," Heero replied as he snagged his saddlebags from his black motorcycle and started walking down the long, seemingly endless, strip of road.
"Uh, fella?!" The mechanic exclaimed. "What're ya doin?That's miles of nothin' out there and a storm's coming!"
Heero grunted in response and hefted his saddlebags to one shoulder.
"What about the bike?" the mechanic tried again.When he didn't get a reply, he scrubbed fingers through his crew cut and muttered, "Well, I guess... I guess I'll fix it and wait for you to...uh...call?"
After hours of walking through rain, the semi truck pulling to a stop beside Heero was welcome. He climbed into the warm cab and greeted the driver with only a few words. The man eyed him as he put the truck into drive again.
"Car break down somewhere back there?" the man asked.
Heero nodded as he settled his saddlebags at his feet and pushed his dripping hair back from his face.
"The next town's twenty miles down the road. There's a good mechanic there..." the man told him as his eyes studied Heero's face with interest.
"I don't need one," Heero told him. "I'm not going back. I need to get home."
The man frowned and then shrugged. "Okay.... Where's home?"
Heero didn't reply. His blue eyes studied the rain slicked window instead.
The driver licked nervous lips and then reached out a big hand and settled it on Heero's wet jeans, just above his knee. He then moved it along the inside of Heero's leg to his crotch as he said, "I'm sure a pretty boy, like you, could think of a few ways of paying me back, if I drive you where you got to go?"
Heero's jaw tightened. He slid intense eyes at the man as he ordered, "Stop here."
"Here?" the driver snickered as he kneaded Heero's crotch. "A little fun's better than a walk in the rain, boy."
Heero's hand shot out and he squeezed the man's windpipe. "I said, stop here."
The man clutched at the choking hold, trying to get air and control the rig at the same time.He slammed on the brakes. When the semi came to a stop, Heero let him go and opened the door.
"I'll come back for you later," Heero promised as he slid out. The
driver was quick to pull away and leave him in the rain.
"Where you headed?" the woman behind the counter asked as she served Heero a plate of food.
"Home," Heero replied as he forked the food quickly into his mouth, not caring what it was.
She looked him up and down, at his messy hair, his dust covered black leather jacket, filthy jeans, and shoes. "Not many people walk through the desert. It's kind of... dangerous."
Heero shrugged as he continued to eat. His skin was burned red from the sun and he had a white eyed look that gave him an appearance of a man on the edge of his strength.
"No buses, or anything," she mused as she looked over his shoulder, and through the big windows of the diner, at the baking desert beyond."I might ask to see if anybody's headed down the road?"
"Thank you," Heero said around a mouthful of food, not really paying attention. When he finished eating, he paid his bill and said, "If someone is going my way, I'll be walking down the road."
"If you just wait a minute..." the woman began, but Heero was already pushing open the door and leaving.
"Bus'll be by soon," the man drawled as Heero climbed out of the dusty truck. "It'll get you all the way to the city."
Heero nodded and said, "Thanks."
The man looked ready to ask questions, but Heero was slamming the door closed and walking to the dilapidated tin building beside the road. A bored man, reading a magazine, gave him a brief look, and a dog scratched fleas just inside the door.
Heero paid for his ticket and then stood and waited as the sun beat down on everything.
"You'd be smart to stay in the shade," the man with the magazine told him, without looking up. He received only a grunt for his trouble.
A dusty bus pulled up at last and Heero climbed in. The other passengers looked at him with only mild curiosity as he took a seat and the bus pulled away from the building.
It was miles, before the outskirts of the city began to pass them by. Heero clutched at his saddlebags in his lap and frowned, eyes watching the road ahead with a mix of trepidation and eagerness.
A few stops were an annoyance, and a delay that Heero didn't want. When a man climbed on at one of those stops, paused at the head of the bus, and grinned, instead of finding a seat, Heero was standing to push past him, wanting to get off. The gun in his face, made him freeze.
"Everybody just relax and don't make any moves," the man barked. "You can sit down," he told Heero. "I want all of your money, now. If you hand it over, without any trouble, I won't fill you full of holes."
Heero's response was instant. His fist shot out and took the man in the jaw. As the man flew backward, Heero grabbed the gun out of his hand. Rushing forward, he planted a steel toed boot into the man's gut, stepped on him to get to the steps, and left the bus without looking back at the screaming and shouting passengers.
Tucking the gun into his waistband, and closing his jacket tightly over it, Heero waved down a cab.
"So, what the hell are you doing back, here?" Duo wanted to know. Leaning against the door jam of what had once been their home, he glared through his unruly bangs, arms crossed defensively over his chest. "What happened to 'I need to get out of here'?"
"I was wrong," Heero replied, emotions naked on his face; longing, despair, and desperation showing through the grime of a hard journey.
"Damn, right, you were wrong," Duo snarled. "Running away, isn't the answer when things get rough, Heero."
Heero nodded, but then looked lost. "Then... what is?"
Duo straightened and held open his arms. "This is."
Heero fell into his tight embrace with an exclamation of relief.
"This is always the answer," Duo told him as he held his love even tighter.