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Let's Get Down to Business to Defeat the Fug

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20 January AC 202

9:00 AM

Heero strolled into the Home Depot in Matamoras, Pennsylvania with a list, a look of determination, and a cart helpfully pushed by his Partner in All Things, Duo.

"You know, it's mid-January, maybe you should've dressed a bit more...I dunno... warm?" Duo, who wore fleece lined everything, also sported a pair of earmuffs, a scarf, and gloves he was trying to take off  as he pushed the cart with his torso, watching as Heero walked with such purpose, such assuredness, that Duo felt some kind of triumphant music should be playing overhead instead of the Top 40 Billboard Hits.

"I don't know what you're talking about, it's fine out." Heero didn't care about the stares of surprise and judgment that followed him through the aisles. "You're lucky I put actual shoes on this morning. I barely found them."

Duo groaned. "'Ro, you're wearing basketball shorts, Timberlands, and a hoodie and that's all. I got like forty layers on and I'm still freezing!"

Save for the two attendants manning the paint counter, there was absolutely no one in the department getting paint, at least at that moment.

"So what's the plan?" Duo asked, as Heero went over to the paint chips. "We gettin' some paint today? Supplies? Flooring? What're we doing?"

Heero sighed. "There's so much that needs to be done... I'd like to paint before I do anything else, that way I don't have to worry about potentially ruining flooring."

Duo nodded. "Makes sense. Got any colour choices in mind?"

Heero beckoned Duo over, and so he left the cart across the aisle and dutifully walked over.

"I was thinking about having the common areas be all off white, but the problem is there are so many shades of it."

Duo squinted at them. "They all look the same to me, 'Ro."

"Do I want one with more of a yellow tone?" Heero asked, as if Duo hadn't said anything. "Or do I want something more in the blue tone family?"

"Just go for something cool sounding," Duo said. "That's what I did for my house, and as you can see since you slept over with no problem whatsoever, I did a good job." He picked up one of the sample cards. "How about Eggwash Mayonnaise Deluxe Bath?"

Heero gave him a look. "That doesn't even sound appealing."

Duo flipped the sample card over. "It's apparently one of their more popular shades. But I mean, it seems to go with pretty much...anything."

Heero's eyes narrowed. "I don't want it to 'just go' with something, I want it to coordinate."

Duo placed it back. "Well I don't know what shade of white-but-not-white you're into."

Heero ended up with five different shades of what Duo called "white-but-not-white" picked out.

"Great." Duo had his head in his hands as he rubbed his aching temples. "What other paints do we need?"

Heero consulted his list. "The bedrooms, the offices... The bathrooms..."

"Maybe I should've asked what don't gotta be painted," Duo muttered. "You got colours for those?"

"Yeah." He held up different shades of blue, green, and purple.

"Geez, 'Ro, how many colours you need?"

"Relena wants her office a soft purple-blue... Millie said she wants 'blue leaning towards purple but not purple', and Rori said she wants the opposite of that."

"They're sharing a room, ain't they?"

Heero nodded.

"Divide the room in half and paint each half whatever colour they wanted." Duo looked Heero's notes over. "You need a colour for the nursery? What nursery?" His eyes lit up.

"Relena hasn't told me anything," Heero said, as he approached the paint counter. "But she's refusing alcohol, and she's avoiding things like fish and wearing high heels."

"And you think she's pregnant then."

The paint counter attendant looked over the sample chips. "How many of each paint do you want?"

"One and a half gallons of each, except the Chantilly Lace colour, I'd like five gallons of that."

"And you want what kind of finish? Matte? Gloss? Eggshell?"

"Matte."

"Okay." The attendant scanned each of them into the computer and made selections on the computer. "It'll take a bit of time, so if you have other shopping to do, feel free to do so."

Heero dragged Duo around Home Depot for three hours for paint supplies, window blinds, and flooring samples. Heero's room printouts were covered in notes about which colour would be used for what, which carpets would be best, if hardwood floors would be better, all the while Duo gave advice when asked, pointed out which carpets would be best for the bedroom, and helped Heero reach things that were out of his reach.

The cashier's eyes widened when they finally made their approach.

"I think that's everything," Heero said, as he flipped through his notes. Duo started loading the register belt with paint cans, trays, brushes, paint pads, drop cloths, and other miscellaneous paint supplies.

"Well I'm sure we'll be back," Duo said. "Sorry, ma'am, we're doing a major house reno."

The cashier shook her head. "It's fine, I'm used to it."

Heero loaded the cart up with bags before his order was totaled up. Duo whistled at the price.

"Moving's expensive, ain't it," Duo muttered. "Hope you got the cashola."

Heero pulled up his card on his Wallet app and tendered it that way. His receipt popped up on his phone screen before being automatically filed away.

"Thank you for shopping at the Home Depot," the cashier said. "Have fun with your renovations!"

"Thanks," Heero said, before pulling the cart behind him. Duo stood on the back of the cart and leaned over the top of it in an attempt to keep anything from spilling out.


12:30pm

"So." Duo's voice echoed in the downstairs hallway of the house. "I got dropcloths on all the furniture we can't just schuck somewhere else. Everything that could be moved I shoved in a room we ain't working on. Just a matter of where to start now." Duo had removed his cozy layers and now only had a ratty t-shirt and equally ratty jeans on. His hair was pulled into a proper bun now and covered with a baseball cap.

"The hallway doesn't need much," Heero said, nose in his notes. "Just the carpeting ripped off the steps and the walls painted. I want that Chantilly Lace paint used so it matches the rest of the common areas. And the carpeting we'll take care of after the painting. I can do this no problem."

Duo rested his hands on his hips. "And what do you want me to do?"

"Get rid of the floor tile and backsplash tiling in the kitchen."

Duo gave a salute. "Yessir. We got some nice ceramic tile I can lay down no problemo."

Heero cracked open the first can of paint as heavy metal music filtered from the kitchen.


3:44pm

"Ohhhh baby, I got a sledgehammer, sle-e-e-edgehammer," Duo sang, as he placed the last of the new, forest green coloured backsplash tiles into place. "Hammer of the gods crashing through your be-e-e-e-edside. The altar for worshipping me is between your thighs, Ambrosia never tasted better or gave me a sweeter high..."

Duo had to admit, the darker green tile went great with the cherry wood cabinets, and the matching backsplash looked a hundred times better with the under cabinet lighting spotlighting it. Most wouldn't notice the subtle design on the tiling, but he had to admire Heero's attention to detail.

"Take me, Father, I know I'm a dirty sinner," Duo continued to sing, as he cleaned up his area. He just had to mop the spiffy new flooring so it really shined, before he could show Heero. "I tried to tell your daughter to stay away, but she said that only made it hotter..."

"Isn't that song about fucking a nun?" Heero asked, as he leaned against the doorway. He had paint smearing his cheek, and a bunch on his upper arms and the front of his t-shirt.

"That's what they say," Duo said. He wiped his hands on his jeans and grabbed the Swiffer. "I just like the song and all the different euphemisms they use for 'dick'."

Heero entered the kitchen proper so he could get a good look at Duo's handiwork.

"So? Whaddya think?"

Heero traced a finger over the grout lines. "You even made sure they were evenly spaced."

Duo chuckled. "Of course. Only the best for you, 'Ro." He did a quick mopping of the floor. "I'll clean everything proper once it's showtime for your ladies. Just wanna make sure I've gotten most of the mess."

Heero tapped the countertop. "I was thinking of replacing the countertops. This isn't real granite I don't think."

Duo set the Swiffer so it was leaning against one of the cabinets and hopped onto the kitchen island. Crossing his legs at the ankles, he shifted and heard a slight creaking noise.

"Please don't break my island."

"Think it's just a regular wood countertop with laminate on top to fool you."

"And you've gathered that from just sitting on it?"

Duo nodded. "It feels hollow. But I mean I can just do this too." He picked up his putty knife and struck it against the top. Heero crossed his arms.

"What is that supposed to accomplish?"

Duo grinned. "It's supposed to ring. This didn't. It's a fake, babe."

"I don't really care either way," Heero said with a shrug. "I want butcher block."

Duo pulled Heero towards him. "You always have to make things complicated."

"Butcher block lasts a lifetime, like cast iron, if you take care of it."

"Expensive, though." He rested his arms on Heero's shoulders. "But I suppose you can well afford it, can't you?"

Heero wrapped his arms around Duo's waist. "Yeah."

"You think Bill likes what I've done with the place?"

Heero gave him a look of confusion. "Bill? Who's Bill?"

Duo frowned. "You don't know Bill? Jesus, 'Ro, it's your goddamn house, and you don't even know who Bill is." He slid off the counter and gestured to the one foot tall rooster statue. "Behold! Bill."

Heero sighed. Loudly. All the while shaking his head.

"Oh and, you might wanna cover up above the cabinets," Duo said. "I know you probably can't see it, but I can, and man is it...not great."

Heero cocked an eyebrow.

"I guess my old neighbours were fond of cocks. There's a 'proud rooster' wallpaper border above the cabinets. Was thinking maybe you'd want me to--"

"Can you paint that forest green?"

Duo blinked. "Well, yeah. I need paint for that, but I can certainly do that."

Heero held up a can of paint, which Duo took.

"You really do think of everything, don't you." Duo sounded surprised.

"Of course." Heero kissed him before saying, "Thanks, I was gonna tell you I wanted the kitchen painted anyway, but wouldn't have bothered with above the cabinets if they were just a neutral colour. Make sure you cover up that ugly border."

Duo set the paint can on the countertop. "You want me to cover--"

"No need." Heero headed for the hallway. "I'll be replacing the countertops."

"At this rate you'll be replacing half the house," Duo muttered, before using his putty knife to open the can of paint.


6:52pm

Both Heero and the carpet that covered the stairs leading to the second floor were splattered with paint. He carefully removed the painter's tape and held his breath, hoping it wouldn't pull off any not yet dry paint, and when it went without any sort of hitch, he exhaled, balling the bright blue tape up in his hand and tossing it on the destroyed carpet. He would have to reapply the tape for the second coat, but he could do that tomorrow.

Heero needed to shower, but everything he used was at Duo's house, or otherwise not yet unpacked. And he didn't want to get any paint on one of the nicer towels they had.

"Hey, 'Ro?"

Heero wiped his hands off on a rag he had hanging out of his back pocket. "Yeah?"

"You gettin' hungry?"

Heero looked down at his stomach. It growled in answer to his silent question.

"I guess so."

Duo appeared at the foot of the stairs. "Ooh, this looks real nice, 'Ro! You did a good job." He examined the moulding. "You didn't even get it in hard to cover areas. I'm impressed." He sat down on one of the bottom steps. "But then again, it's you, you should've stopped impressing me a long time ago."

Heero scoffed as he made his way down the stairs. "I don't even try to anymore."

"Don't gotta. Listen." He pulled out his phone and went scrolling through it. "'Lia and 'Lena took the kids and are having like a girls' night out or whatever, so it's just you and me... What kind of takeout you want?"

Heero sat down next to Duo. "Whatever is fine with me."

"Chinese then?"

Heero left the steps. "I feel like I should be accomplishing more on the house than what I've already done."

"It's late," Duo reasoned. "You gotta eat. A break won't kill us."

Heero had his notes in his hands. "We've got the carpeting still to take care of, and then there's that chapel room or whatever..."

"Heero." Duo was making a list of takeout selections on his phone. "You gotta put another coat of paint in the hallway before you can rip up the carpet. Kitchen needs one more coat and then it's done till we replace everything else in there..." He tapped a button and placed a call in to the local Chinese place. "We can paint that other room that's down here, but that's about all we can do tonight--yeah, hi, I'd like to place an order for pickup?"

Heero knew that Duo was right, that there was only so much that could be done in a day--second coats had to wait until the first one was completely dry. He could start work in the room Duo referred to as "the chapel room", which would be Relena's office once it was finished. The room that would become the home gym didn't need much done at all, thankfully... New appliances would be needed in the kitchen, and new laundry appliances...

Heero's vision started to swim. He was vaguely aware of someone calling his name, and hitting something hard before the darkness that ate away at the corners of his sight consumed it completely.