Camelot: Corvette 2/?
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing.
The town looked like something out of a movie to Duo. Street lights were just turning on, flickering as unreliable filaments responded to primitive electricity. Yellow light fell into pool on concrete that was just irregular enough that it had to have been formed by human hands. For several seconds, Duo paused, staring at the sidewalk squares. Duo’s enhanced pattern recognition got caught up in tens of thousands of tiny details in the sidewalks, echoes of the human workmanship, artifacts of the days they were made, which gave Ernie time to lay an arm over his shoulders.
“So, seriously, Duo, if you want a whiskey, let me stop in at Charlie’s and I’ll get us a bottle. I’ll show you this place and we’ll finish that bottle! Then we’ll go over to King’s Fine Auto in Cranston and see if he can tell us who has a Corvette! How’s that?” Ernie did his best to give Duo back his own best let’s get in trouble grin.
Duo pressed his tongue between his teeth and upper lip in an expression of not really buying it. “Chill on the hair, Ernst. I have a plan,” Duo said, slipping out from under his friend’s arm. He turned up the collar of his brown leather bomber jacket, which was when Ernie noticed that Duo was wearing the military jacket in the first place.
“Oh god, you can’t wear that!” Ernie covered his face for a moment. “They didn’t even make that in your size! That’s like a woman’s size! Duo! WAIT,” Ernie pleaded, “You don’t understand how things are!”
Duo spun, his braid flaring out, arms out to the side, palms up. He winked, grinning brilliantly. “Come on, Ernie! It’s early evening on a Friday in August! We’re gonna have a whiskey with yer old friends and then move on. I mean, unless you really don’t wanna see yer old friends or something.” Duo came to a full stop, hands on his hips, he rubbed the side of his face for a moment. “Yeah, man, if you wanna just go to Charlie’s and stuff, we can do that. I didn’t mean to get you into something uncomfortable.”
“It’s not that,” Ernie said, pointing all his fingers at his chest, “My friends are down at the church.” He shifted, pointing a finger at the dark asphalt of the parking lot. “When I was young enough to walk these streets, Duo Maxwell, I was a Christian man. It’s just,” he said, his other hand touching his head then gesturing for emphasis, “You look like a woman or a little boy and I think they’re going to kick our asses.”
Duo shrugged. “Welp, won’t be the first time. They could be cool. We won’t know till we go see.”
Ernie gave him a long face, eyes blinking slowly.
“WE could go down to da church, but it’s Friday night and dey ain’t got no whiskey.”
“Those things are both true,” Ernie agreed. “I don’t see why we need to go into a bar...”
Duo took the few steps back to his friend, reached up to put his arm across his shoulder, and get them moving, “Welp, somethin else church ain’t got... information on race cars.”
The inside of the bar was warm, smelled of cigarette smoke, beer, pine, so many things that Duo’s extra sensors were running overload to identify them and he just shut them down. Inside the bar felt different to him than outside the bar had, almost like it was a different world, freer, closer to home.
There were only eleven people in the bar, three women and eight men, one of which was behind the bar. All of them were white, which seemed odd to Duo, unsettling in a surreal kind of way. He wanted to explore why that would be the case, but there were so many new things that he didn’t have time to think about them all and still walk around and talk like a seemingly sane adult. So he walked up to the bar, sat himself down on a stool, grinned nice and friendly at the dark haired bartender. His braid hung down past the stool, but most of the folk had already stopped looking at him, gone back to their own business.
“What do you want, kid,” the man asked, without putting down the glass he was drying.
“Whiskey, neat,” Duo said.
“Really,” the bartender asked as he set down the glass, polished the counter for a moment, head tilted, looking Duo over really good. “You got money?”
“Yup,” Duo said, reaching inside his jacket to pull out a slender brown billfold. He pulled out a 5 dollar bill and handed it over. “One for my friend too.”
The bartender snapped the money between his fingers, held it up to the bare light bulb, arched an eyebrow, but then shrugged and accepted it. He turned and looked at Ernie, “Whiskey for you too?”
“So what brings you two into town,” he asked as he rung up their drinks and handed Duo back his change.
“I’m Duo,” Duo said, “I’ve come to look at cars!”
“I’m Walter,” Walter said as he set the shot and the beer down. “They ain’t got cars where you come from kid?”
“Not like yer cars,” Duo said, holding his shot, “I really wanna see a corvette. Do you know where I can find one?”
“Do I look like the phonebook to you?” Walter asked, not unfriendly, just unsettled by the bright eyed boy at his counter. “He your cousin or something Ernie?”
“Something,” Ernie said, sipping his beer like a man who really hadn’t reconciled himself to being in a bar. “I met him through a church experience,” Ernie clarified, which was as close as one might safely explain being taken to the future where you thought you were in heaven for several decades. It was a religious experience.
Dark eyebrows drew down. “So you two are.. Missionaries? Looking to share the Good Word with hotrodders or something?”
“I just wanna look at the cars,” Duo said. “I’m a pretty good mechanic.”
A girl, pretty, curly blond hair and gray eyes, a scarf over her hair pulled up next to him. She wore jeans, clearly cut for a man, but rolled up to fit her, and a pretty flowered shirt that she’d tied off at her waist. “So you’re a mechanic? How come you got all that hair, pretty boy?”
He turned on his chair, elbow on the counter and eyed her, the calluses on her hands, the tan lines on her face from goggles, slightly chapped lips. “My hair’s important to me. You understand when something’s important to you, right? I’m Duo.” He held out his hand to shake.
She hesitated for a moment, then stood up straighter, held out her hand and shook his with pride. “I’m Betty. Mr. Anderson, is this guy a good mechanic.”
“Best mechanic I’ve ever met,” Ernie said honestly, “Do I know you?”
“Yes, sir,” she said, nodding, looking around Duo, “You taught me in Sunday School for nearly five years, Mr. Anderson! I’m Betty McCallister!”
“It’s been a little while, Betty. I’m sorry,” he said, sheepish, and had another sip of that beer.
“But you are certain, swear on the nails in Jesus’ hands that this here Duo is a good mechanic?”
“If you need something fixed, Miss Betty,” Ernie said, “No one can fix it better than Duo.”
“Do you want a job Mr. Duo?” She asked, lifting her chin.
“Does said job involve fixing a car,” Duo asked wiggling his eyebrows.
“It does, a race car, that,” she paused for emphasis, ‘that I am going to drive. You got a problem with that?”
“Nope. Why would I? You want a drink?”
“I can buy my own drinks, Mr. Duo.”
“Fine by me. Can I get a root beer, please, Walter?”
The big bartender was just finishing pulling a couple more beers. After that he pulled a bottle of cold root beer and popped the top, pouring it into a glass. Duo offered money, got more change.
The next people through the door were very different kinds of people. They were also all white, but they were different - but Duo wasn’t entirely sure how they were different. Clothes to start with. They all seemed to be wearing similar sweaters colored sleeves and pale main bodies of them, some with big single letters. They all had similar hair cuts too. Duo had to remind himself it was too early in Earth’s history for there to be clones.
They paused just inside the door, scanning for something. Duo decided they were some kind of pack hunter group and that was all very interesting and everything until they settled on his new employer and headed his way.
She slipped off her stool and pointed at the pack leader. “You get out of here Dwight Evans! I don’t want anything to do with you!”
“Betty,” the leader said. He was a red headed tall boy with broad shoulders and green eyes that looked at Betty and everything else like the world was full of puzzle pieces for him to sort to his liking. “You’re my fiancee now and your father’s worried about you, running around with low lifes like this.”
“Go to hell, Dwight. I’m not going home.”
“I’m here to take you home, Betty. You’re a woman. You are not thinking clearly.” He moved towards her and she put up her fists, which slowed him down, but only because he started laughing.
Duo’s face twisted up, eyes darkening. Shinigami wasn’t like he was, but old habits die hard. He slipped out of his jacket, tossing it on the counter. This wasn’t his town, but he’d be law enforcement if he needed to be. “She said no,” Duo said clearly, in his most authoritative voice.
“What the fuck are you,” Dwight hissed, sneering at Duo, “Her lesbian lover?”
“Well, if I were, at least I’d be someone she’d want, rather than a hulking wanna be rapist pig?” Duo said cheerfully.
“NO fighting in my bar,” Walter snapped. “Dwight, Betty said she didn’t want to go. Just back off.”
“I ain’t gonna be talked to this way! Not by a woman or a faggot or a bar keeper,” Dwight snarled. He reached out to shove Duo. Duo deflected the shove, channeling the energy into sending the larger man onto his ass.
“You little shit licker! Parking lot!”
Ernie was up then, trying to get Dwight’s attention, “Do you remember me? I’m Mr. Anderson! From Sunday School! You don’t want to do this, son!”
Duo flexed his interlocked fingers, grinning crookedly, eyes dark, “Sure thing, Dwight. Lead the way!”
Ernie followed along, trying to stop the coming fight. Betty went out the back. Walter pulled Duo’s wallet out, looked at his ID, found the tribal id, and decided to call an old friend on the local reservation. Big black phone tucked against his shoulder, he dialed the slow rotary phone, “Hey, Mack, yeah, this is Walter. Look, so there was this kid in the bar tonight, odd kid and I just thought, yeah, so he’s about to get his ass handed to him by Dwight and those idiots that follow him. No, don’t know him, don’t know where he came from, but his name is Duo and that sure as shit ain’t an American name. He’s got a tribal id card in his wallet that says he’s Cheyenne. How am I supposed to know what reservation he belongs on? I’m not Indian. If you want to get him home, you better come get him soon or he’s gonna be so much more lost blood, if you know what I mean. Yeah, yeah, no problem.”