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No. 3555
Soldier had never been to Texas. As he looked out the window from beyond the rim of his omnipresent helmet, he noted to himself how hot and barren it was. The tawny land stretched like a piece of parchment in all directions, dotted with short, hardy scrubs and windswept rocks and boulders. The road stretched indefinitely into the distance, almost perfectly aligned with the intense setting sun, like the ending of a Hollywood cowboy flick. Despite his anxiety, Soldier deeply appreciated the scenery as he looked out from Engineer’s dark blue pickup truck. It reminded him of Dustbowl, of 2fort, of the battlegrounds he’d considered more of a home than anywhere he’d ever been. But that was all gone now. The fighting was over, it was just him and Engineer. And they were going home…

Engineer hummed the Bonanza theme from behind a bright, lopsided smile, a ten gallon hat on his head and a gloved, dirty hand on the steering wheel. Having eschewed his goggles, Soldier could see his small, bright blue eyes, like little gemstones, and the faint red circles pressed onto his face. He, at least, was in his element. Before they’d been discharged, he’d learned he’d been given a job as an Engineering professor in Austin, which he’d been looking forward to their entire trip. Soldier had done his best to seem happy for the Texan, but inwardly, he felt disconcerted, and slightly ashamed. Yes, Engineer had invited him to live with him at his ranch, and Soldier, not having anywhere else to go and not wanting to leave his lover, he’d accepted, but that didn’t mean he wanted to be some kind of housewife! He was red blooded and virile, the kind of man who’d go insane if he went too long without punching something but coming up this road, the cow skulls in the dust made it seem like everything was already dead. Maybe he’d take set up a target range, or build a training camp for possible recruits. But with Engineer around, that didn’t seem likely. The mellow man had had enough of fighting, of killing and war, and wanted nothing to do with it. Getting along wasn’t going to be easy.

From his peripheral vision, Engineer noticed Soldier’s anxious expression. “What’s the matter, Solly?” he asked as he drove.

“What’s wrong?!” Soldier repeated before catching himself. “N-nothing’s wrong. I’m just admiring the view, is all.”

Engineer clicked his tongue and sighed. Same old tough as nails Soldier. But he knew better. “C’mon, Solly,” Engineer said. “I can tell when somethin’ the matter. I’ve know ya since that helmet covered half your face. Still does, I reckon.” He laughed at his own joke as Soldier stared stoically out towards the desert. “Aw, c’mon, pardner.” Engie coaxed. “I can take it.”

“What’s—nothing’s wrong!” Soldier snapped, catching himself just in time. “Nothing’s wrong. Just admiring the goddamn view. We there yet?”

“Almost,” Engineer said as he came to a sudden curve in the road. He turned perhaps too swiftly, for as the car moved, so did Soldier’s helmet, off his head and almost through the window before he caught it. Engineer saw this and chuckled as Soldier fumbled with the helmet. “Honestly, I don’t know why ya brought that ole’ thing,” Engineer said as he brought a second hand to the wheel. “The war’s over.”

“I like it!” Soldier said with a hint of defensiveness. The steel in his voice would have scared most men into silence, but Engineer knew him better than that. The two were as kindred as two men could be, a pair that had full faith in each other. As teammates in war, they’d fostered that relationship. And as lovers, they’d consummated it. “It’s serviced me better in war than any man. Besides you,” he added hastily and to Engie’s amusement.

“Glad I’ve serviced you better than any man,” Engineer said, smiling as he saw Soldier turn beet red.

“Not like that! I mean, you do, but my hat-you know I didn’t mean-” but Engineer was laughing and laughing at his friend’s bemusement.

“Ah, shucks, Solly, I’m only kiddin’,” Engineer said. In the background, pressed against the wavering, liquid sun, a house had come into view, as big as a thumbnail in the distance. curled his fingers into a pistol, muttering ‘pow’ as he did. “That’s the place. Ah, this is gonna be great, Solly. Our own place, out here in Texas, where we can rustle cattle, and have barbecues, and sit under the stars together in peace.”

“Yeah,” Soldier said with ill-disguised ambivalence. What was cattle rustling like, he wondered. Maybe he’d get to shoot at them. “And thanks.”
Based on Kilomonster's drawing's. Danke to Hupsoonheng for beta'ing.


“Hmm?” Engineer cocked his slightly toward him.

“For inviting me to be with you. For giving me a home. For…” he swallowed his pride and looked into the small eyes of this man, the man he adored more than life. “For taking me in.”

“Shoot,” Engineer said with a slight blush, “I’m not taking you in. Who d’ya think’ll be taking care of the Ranch while I’m working?”

“Huh?” Soldier said.

“Well, it won’t just be you,” Engineer said. “Esperanza’ll probably give you a hand, and Toby…”

“Esperanza? Toby?!” Soldier repeated with rising indignity. They weren’t going to be alone?!

“Oh,” Engineer said, his face dropping as he realized he’d never mentioned them. “Didn’t I tell you-”

“No!” Soldier said as the truck pulled up to the house. It was a rustic, one floor ranch cabin, made of wood and with a long deck, decorated with Navajo rugs and a few cattle skulls. There was a large barn adjacent, and long fields behind the home populated by lethargic, black and tawny cattle kept in by lengths of silver, razor skewed wires tacked to fence posts. As the car came to a stop by the front steps, the door opened and out came an attractive but middle aged Latina woman in a long dress, with tousled black hair and skin the shade of coffee.

“Well, that’s Esperanza,” Engineer said as he and Soldier stepped out of the car. As Esperanza came to Engie and embraced him, Soldier moved to the back seat and withdrew his few items, grumbling all the while. Great, he thought to himself. People.

“Engineer!” Esperanza said in accented but skillful English as she stepped away from their hug. “Welcome home. I’ve kept the place in excellent shape while you were away.” She caught sight of Soldier. “And you are Mr. Soldier, Engineer’s…partner?” she seemed taken aback by him, but that didn’t surprise Soldier. When people thought of Engineer having a male partner, they probably pictures some ultra-feminine 95 pound twink with a lollipop dangling from his mouth, not someone gruff and battered like him. The two briefly shook hands before Soldier broke off and looked around the place. “So…” he asked Engineer, a hint of irritation still coloring his voice, “If this is Esperanza, than where’s Toby?” together, the three of them walked up to the house, Esperanza offering to take one of Soldier’s bags only to be declined. “No matter his penchant for killing men, he was still a gentlemen, and would not let a lady exert herself unduly.

“He’s-,” but as Engineer responded, they heard the rapid sound of footsteps coming from behind the door, and just as Soldier grabbed Engie by his collar and pulled him away, the door flew open, a voice saying “Daddy!”
Marked for deletion (old)
>> No. 3557
ahee! Thank God the Chan's back up. I missed stories like this. I can't wait to find out what happens next
>> No. 3558
There's a weird bit where you places the thanks for the Beta in the middle of the story.

Also, I have to admit, it's a little weird to see people Engineer knew before going into the war calling him "Engineer." Might want to at least try and lampshade that.
>> No. 3559

Wait, what?

...That was supposed to be at the beginning of it. God dammit. I blame the chan's hiccups.
>> No. 3562
And now it won't delete. Fucking A. Just ignore this fic and let it die so I can repost later without that mistake, if you all would.
>> No. 3565
>> No. 3582
Proceed. :D
>> No. 3627
Oh hey! How'd I not notice this here? Kind of like how Soldier didn't notice that Engineer had a kid, huh.
>> No. 3629

>> No. 3700
Oh, WOW.
Awkward much?
Boy, do I feel bad for Soldier!!
>> No. 3702
Daw, I wanted to save my comment for when you restarted the thread, but it keeps getting bumped and I can't stand it any longer. I'm definitely looking forward to Soldier meeting Toby.

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