by Bronze Tigress


Sweaty, covered in grease splotches, and looking altogether triumphant, Duo lounged at the kitchen table swirling the ice around in his glass of water. "I tell you, Trowa, that's the last, last, last time I listen to Heero when he tells me which parts I need to fix the car up. I don't care if that's what the dealer specs are on it - they build the wiring harnesses differently when they're not going to put that unit in. No point in running wires for something that isn't going to be hooked up, right? Shee-it. And then he tells me I just need to change the harness. What do I look like, a bloody electrician?"

He took a long draught from the glass. Trowa nodded, and slipped a coaster onto the table. "Thanks, man. Sorry, I should know better than to put this down, huh?" Trowa just smiled at that, and waited for the diatribe to continue.

"So, anyway - I went back to the books again after that, and boy am I ever glad I shelled out for the official manuals rather than the consumer version."

"You got the factory specs? How'd you manage that?"

"Just gotta know where to go, Bro' - and be willing to pay for the privilege. Some of this stuff isn't in the consumer copies, but everything's in the fac specs." Duo swirled the glass again, somehow managing not to let the water slosh, although the ice tinkled merrily.

"So, I checked the diagrams, traced the lines. You know that one switch? All it really needs to do is bypass the line from the ignition to the lights, so they go on when the engine does, right? Well, instead of doing that, the stupid module turns the flipping highbeams on at some weird fraction of full power - so you've got the light shining up, and if you've got the halogens you might as well have them on full for all that the low power makes a difference. And not only that, but from all reports the modules are so badly designed they burn out on a regular basis." He snorted in disgust.

Trowa nodded sagely. "So?"

"I figured it out. What else? Of course, to look at the diagrams, you have to practically pull the whole damned dash assembly apart to get at the line you need - I had the steering wheel half off for a while and most of the front panel. 'Fei nearly had a fit, and I can only imagine what he'd have been like if it had been his car instead of mine. As it is, I think I'd better wait to do his until he's not around, y'know?" He grinned, and Trowa raised an eyebrow.

"But, it turns out, there's only one little bit I need to pull, after all that. Now - you know and I know they never really put the right voltages on those diagrams - so I hauled out the meter and checked 'em all. Sure enough, they've got a stack of pretty little surface-mount transistors stuck on at one end of the lines - but I got the drop. So I was off to go pick up a resistor - yeah, looking like this. You think I was going to wait around to shower, let my hair dry, change, and then go shopping just so I could change back into these when I got back? So I went into town - special trip and everything. Did you know those idjits at Salvage Shoppe don't sell parts any more? Not in the store, anyway - you have to special order and they'll ship 'em to ya! When did they quite being a salvage store, is what I wanna know!"

"You're kidding me?"

"Gospel truth, Trowa, and you know I don't take that lightly. Lucky for me, though, I still have my own little stash of parts, from when I needed to mech on 'Scythe, and, lo and behold, in amongst all that junk, was one teensy little 2-cred transistor. Pulled the right bit of panel, hooked in the transistor, and bingo. I'm online."


"Yeah. Too bad about that module, though. I'm going to see if I can sell it back to the dealership, maybe - I'm not going to be able to use it. And I checked all the other cars too. Those that aren't already set up for it, all have the wrong wiring harnesses. Good thing I've got the solution! I feel like one of those UniCred card ads, now, though, you know."

Unnoticed by Duo, Wufei chose that moment to slip into the kitchen. Trowa, wisely enough, chose to keep still on the matter.

"You know, so much for the manuals, this outrageous amount for the recommended module. 'The actual correct part,'" he continued in an announcer's voice, "'two credits. Knowing where to stick it: priceless!'"

"You should have just called me, Duo, and I could have told you where to stick it," Wufei's smooth voice interjected from the doorway.

"Aack!" Duo startled up in his chair, tripped, and then both he and it went over backwards. A soft "Ow, ow ow," came from the floor as he clutched the back of his head.

"But first," Wufei continued, "I think you could use a degreasing. You're slipping all over the place."

"Hey, oil's cheaper than..."

Duo was immediately cut off by two voices, chiming in with "...cheaper than Gundanium, we know." Wufei continued alone, "And you do not, apparently, enjoy hitting your head nearly as much as some other possibilities. Up!"

"Alright, alright already, I'm coming, I'm coming," Duo groused as he scrambled to his feet, brushed the back of his coveralls off, and followed after Wufei's retreating back side.

Trowa wasn't quite sure, but he thought he could hear Wufei saying "Not yet, you aren't," as the pair disappeared down the hallway.

Finally, the kitchen was silent once more, and Trowa snapped open the book he had put aside when Duo had first entered the room. "Knowing when to leave things to the professional: priceless!" A small grin lit green eyes as he resumed his reading.


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