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Aberrant: Stargate Universe - Too Hot to Handle [Mature] [Complete]

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Abdali, Kuwait, June 17, 1997

Olivia Jenings-Izumi slipped on the sunglasses with a grimace, peering around at the complete nothingness that stretched before her. The gravel and sand would have been bad enough, but the sun that stretched high overhead took what was merely desolate and turned it into a burning oven. Even her visit to Death Valley because her father had to see it hadn't been this fucking awful.

"Liv, baby... this is your worst idea ever," Bill mumbled, stopping next to her. She absently tried to take his hand, but he pulled away. "Too hot for that."

"We need stuff for our resume, volunteer stuff," Liv said easily, gathering up her long braids and pulled them up into a bun. "You said you wanted to do a quick summer trip instead of volunteering all semester."

"Yeah, but I meant a quick summer trip to somewhere nice, not to a shithole," Bill growled. "I mean... fuck, look at this place." He kicked the pile of sand and gravel that had accumulated on the sidewalk in front of the airport.

"Give it a fucking rest, Bill," she sighed, rubbing at a forehead that already glistened with sweat. "If you want to go home, go. After all the shit I went through to get here, I'm staying." She spotted someone who had to be a native by his features, and had to be their contact by the sign he was holding. It read, Welcome HFK volunteers. Grabbing her suitcase's handle, she started to walk toward him. HFK was short for "Hope For Kuwait"; it was one of the many charity groups that had sprung up after the last Gulf War.

The second she hit the sand, the tiny wheels became useless. Grumbling, she snatched it up by the handle and kept going. Behind her, Bill threw out his arms angrily and began to catch up, lugging his over-sized duffel bag.

"Hi," Liv said, stopping in front of the man with the sign. "Liv Jenings, from Berkeley."

"Abbas Kouri, I am your liaison," he said, offering her his hand. He eyed her clothes, but said nothing. She'd been warned that she might have to wear more traditional clothing, and she was prepared for that, but she wouldn't change unless asked. Kuwait was a progressive country, right?

"Bill Warrens," Bill said, stopping beside Olivia and offering his hand.

"Bill, Liv, it is good to meet you," Abbas said, nodding. "I am pleased that you've come to help."

"I'm glad to be here," Liv smiled.

"Me too, just wish it wasn't so hot," Bill said, scowling.

"Ah, you can wait in the van. I left it on, but you should get used to the heat," their liaison said.

"Sounds perfect," Bill was saying as he opened the door and got into the middle seat. "Liv?"

Despite the sweet cold air that covered her skin when she shoved her suitcase in, she shook her head. "I'm going to hang with Abbas and try the heat a bit longer."

"Making me look bad, babe," he said, giving her a wry grin.

She shrugged, smiling back. "Then get your ass out here."

However, standing in the heat with his overachieving girlfriend wasn't nearly as enticing as hanging in the air conditioning, so Liv waited with Abbas for the other students, while Bill waited in the van.


The tiny village with no name was even more desolate than the relatively civilized Abdali, and even Liv had her doubts. She kept them to herself, reminding herself that she'd wanted to do this. See the world, help a war-torn country and have a good talking point on your resume, she reminded herself.

Abbas showed them and the four other people to their accommodations. If she'd had access to a plane, Liv might have fled herself at the sight of those tiny trailers. "I know they are not much," Abbas said quickly, "but they are better than the residents of this village have."

Liv could believe that. She'd seen what passed for buildings out here, and privately, she was glad for the trailers. It was just... really not what she had pictured.

"God damn, it's hot in there," Bill said, recoiling from his opened door. "And are we sharing?"

"You've been assigned trailer-mates," Abbas said, smiling. "I tried to pair people from other countries together, for the multicultural experience."

"Cool," Liv said, as Bill rolled his eyes.

"Work will start tomorrow," Abbas said. "The construction supervisor will be by later for a safety lesson; until then, I suggest you settle in."

"You're... are you going to be around?" a red-head buxom beauty with an Australian accent asked.

"Yes," Abbas said, "but I am not the project lead. You'll meet him later."

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Vinny had been working for Northrup Grumman for years, and nothing compared to the shithole assignment he had now. Build a fucking box they said, oh and we're gonna send you some volunteers.

Fucking granola-eaters

Kuwait was bad enough...but he had to deal with some prissy fucks who wanted to impress mommy & daddy back home with their charity work? He wanted to blow something up...bad.

Well, if he was stuck here until it was done, so fucking be it, but he was going to entertain himself in the process.


Vinny snorted as he approached the small encampment of toaster ovens that the charity called 'living arrangements'. All the volunteers were settling in and had made their way into the trailers, grumbling that the A/C only just barely managed to keep the interior temperature at a cool 100 degrees.

He took the lit cigar from his mouth as he shoved his clipboard under one arm and lit the fuse that hung out from the cap of the empty three liter bottle. He waited a moment to make sure it was lit before he tossed it closer to the toasters and stepped back, taking cover behind a pile of crated supplies and plugging his ears.


The locals were used to Vinny's antics by now, he'd been there for weeks, but the resounding screams and crashing from within the toasters had Vinny rolling. When the small herd of goats went by in a panic he started laughing all the harder.

Maybe this wasn't gonna be so bad after all.

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Clarissa was gorgeous, and Liv was quietly wondering if she was interested in girls. Liv herself had an interest in them - it was almost required at Berkeley - but Clarissa had shown zero signs of being interested in Liv. So the young melting pot didn't push, and just watched her unpack a lot of really nice clothes while chatting easily.

"... then Daddy moved to Melbourne, thank god," she babbled. "Perth is the devil's asshole."

"I've always wanted to visit Melbourne," Liv admitted, smiling. "Seems like a fun town."

"Only the best," Clarissa said, her voice a touch haughty. "Are you from New York?"

Olivia felt a touch of irritation. There were more places in America than New York. "I'm from California," she said.

"Oh, I've wanted to visit LA," Clarissa smiled. "You ever try for a part in a movie?"

All interest in Clarissa was gone. What a fuckin' bimbo. "No... I'm fro-"

The explosion had both girls screaming and falling to the floor; Liv winced as she cracked her knee on the metal bed frame. "Oh god! The Iraqis are back!" Clarissa screamed, grabbing for her cell phone. She started dialing, despite that they'd already confirmed that they couldn't raise a signal out here.

Liv huddled on the floor, listening. "Wait," she said, after a moment. "There should have been more than one boom, if it's another invasion. All I hear is... laughter. What the fuck?"

Someone pounded on her door. "Come out, Liv," Bill called. "It's just some asshat with some blasting powder."

Liv was out the door in a shot, her eyes falling on the guy slumped against some crates, still giggling. He was clearly not native, despite his deep tan and dark hair and eyes. He was also around her own age. She started toward him and Bill caught her arm. "Whoa, chill, baby," he said, nervously. "Just... c'mon, it was a joke."

"Yeah, I'm fuckin' laughin' my ass off here," Liv snarled and jerked her arm free. She marched over, glowered down at the jester and inquired, "Are you insane!? Or just an asshole?!"

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Vinny was still giggling as the granola stormed up to him. Take away the tie-dye and put some real clothes on, she'd be fuckin' hot...not that she wasn't doable.

Hey, they sent me some pretty pussy.

He stood up, not fazed by her reaction in the slightest.

"You ask the locals darlin'," He said, oozing fake charm, "They'll say both. Me, I like to think I'm adventurous."

He leaned against the crate, "If you'd like to see just how adventurous I can be, stop by my house tonite, I have cold beer and a warm bed."

"But first," He said standing up and grabbing his clipboard from the ground where it had fallen in his mirth. "Do believe we have some MSDS shit to go over."

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Liv’s eyes widened in outrage as the kid spoke about cold beers and warm beds. Her face twisted with anger and Bill flinched as he saw her draw back. At least if she got them kicked out, they could go home.

Her slap never landed. The kid caught her wrist, holding it with a rough hand used to manipulating harder materials than her soft arm. “Save it for tonight, darlin’” he drawled, his cigar bobbing as he grinned. “I like it rough.”

“I’d rather fuck a scorpion,” she hissed, pulling against his grip. He didn’t let go and she had to catch herself on a crate when she lost her balance. “Besides, I have a boyfriend.”

Vinny looked past her to see the guy who’d grabbed her. The guy was tall and lanky, and walked a sloppy line between preppy and hippy. He had something on his chin that looked like it might be an attempt at a goatee. In short, he was a fairly accurate representation of all that was wrong with kids these days. Vinny, naturally, wasn’t on this list.

Meanwhile, her expression had shifted. “MSDS?” Her mouth dropped open a little. “Are you the one that’s supposed to be in charge? No fucking way! This is outrageous!” This time, he let go of her arm when she pulled back.

“Hey, baby… chill. It’s just a bit of fun,” Bill said, moving forward finally. “I’m sure he didn’t mean anything bad. Just a bit high spirits, right?” He offered a hand to Vinny. “I’m Bill, and this is my girl, Liv.”

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Vinny kept a look of amusement as Granola protested his possiblity of being in charge.

Though when Bill moved in, the smile dropped away to a scrunched up look of disdain.

Originally Posted By: Bill
He offered a hand to Vinny. “I’m Bill, and this is my girl, Liv.”

Vinny glanced down at the hand, then back up at Bill, "Sure." he said sarcastically as he walked past to address the group of volunteers as they had all gathered to watch the interplay.

"Okay, this is how its gonna work. I'm sure most of you haven't actually constructed a fucking thing beyond a protest picket sign in your worthless organic-eating lives, and the lot of you probably think this shit will somehow guarantee you a chance at some yuppy college or get you a spot on your mommy or daddy's charity board."

"But I'll tell you now," Vinny said, his voice escalating, "This is the Middle Fucking East, and as demonstrated by the stack of waivers your organization made you sign, no one gives a fuck about you out here. You are here to work. When you go to bed, you will wonder what sorry devil crawled up your ass and brought you to hell. You are mine for the next two weeks, and you will work."

"You are here to build a school that will bring hope to a generation of children that have seen nothing but death and destruction their entire lives. And goddamit, I plan to give them one that will fucking last to give their children's children hope. So any of you ass-tard's that can't handle that, pack your shit up now and get the fuck outta here, because I don't need you."

At that, Vinny went silent, and slowly made eye contact with each volunteer, getting a gauge of each individual's desire to help, and seeing who the trouble-maker would be, there was always one...always.

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The man himself might be a twat-cake rolled in shit frosting, but Liv found it hard to fault his dedication. She wasn't sure that he was that passionate about a school, or about the structure itself, but she found herself agreeing with him, at least on the importance of the building. She swallowed her anger at the treatment she was getting; the important thing was the school, not the trumped-up self-importance of the asshole in front of them. I bet he burns the wings off flies in his free time while jerking off to "The Ride of the Valkyries". She'd still put up with him for something this important.

But there was always someone who dissented with even the most heart-felt of statements, when they were delivered with all the care of a demented Roman emperor via his fist. The tall kid who spoke up was gorgeous; Livy had already noted him in a 'wouldn't he be fun in bed' sort of way. She hadn't acknowledged that; Bill could get terribly jealous. She'd also seen the hottie whip out an honest-to-God handkerchief before touching the door to the van and then on his trailer, and she'd already pegged him as The One Looking for Any Excuse to Leave, or At Least to Bitch. So there was no surprise on her face when he stepped forward and said in a thick Spanish accent, "You cannot talk to me, to us like that! We are here to help you. We are volunteers, not slaves!"

"Yeah, you can pack up and getdashit out," the kid said, looking as cool as a cucumber despite the heat and the hot glares he was getting. "If you're lucky, Abbas will give you a ride back to town. Otherwise, just stick to the road, you should be fine. It's only ten fuckin' miles or so."

The guy huffed and marched off; Livy would bet he was going to find Abbas and complain vociferously. It was even money whether he'd go home or not. She didn't really care. They were volunteers, here to supplement the actual work crew, not divas on a vacation. And due to the heat, she already knew that this was going to suck. While she might have suckered Bill into coming by stressing the importance of this to their resume, she actually wanted to do stuff like this.

"Hey, asshole," she said, catching his attention as Bill groaned under his breath. "You're wrong about one thing. I've done some work with Habitat for Humanity, so I do know a bit about how things go together. And I know that volunteer means 'guy who does all the shitty stuff because the guys who get paid don't want to do it'. So you might reassess some of your assumptions, there, ass-tard."

It'd be interesting to see how he took his own special word being tossed back at him.

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Vinny turned around as Granola started spilling out the silo again, a large grin on his face, "Oh, I'm sorry...Habitat for fucking Humanity," he started, mocking her the whole way. "Guess that makes you a fucking GC now doesn't it? Since you've already pegged what your job is, guess you know you'll be hauling cinder today, you can have Fuzz there help ya." Vinny said gesturing to Bill with his clipboard.

She's gonna make this last one worth the whole project.

"The rest of you volun-queers, hope your jet-lag ain't bad, its only mid-morning, still half a shift left, and I'm not wasting it."

Vinny held up his clipboard, "You need to sign this piece of paper that absolves my company of any legal obligation whatsoever for your soon-to-be, lobster tanned hides."

"This second sheet," he said, flipping to a goldenrod stack halfway down. "Lists all the chemicals and hazards and otherwise yummy, fucking, goodness you are liable to come in contact with during this build. You must sign one and turn it in at the check in to get your hardhat." Vinny stopped a moment and looked everyone over to make sure they didn't have a blank look of incomprehension.

"You are expected at check-in in 20 minutes, anyone not ready to work, loses their hours for the day, now come get your shit." Vinny pulled the papers out of the clipboard and separated the two piles, ready to hand them out as people approached.

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Liv just stepped forward and snatched her copies from the asshole. Giving him a smirk to let him know that he hadn't intimidated her by putting her on grunge duty, she spun and headed for her trailer. She didn't have much time, but she needed to get her tinted safety glasses and her gloves. Figures that he'd put them right to work.

By mid-afternoon, Liv knew what it was to hate. It wasn't a completely new experience for her, but it also wasn't a common feeling for her. Sweat drenched her body as she lugged cinder blocks from the truck to the appointed spot, which was just to the side of where Kuwaiti craftsmen were marking out the boundaries of the building.

She paused after setting down a block, trying to control her breathing. She let her body rest for a second, knowing that the day wasn't done and that she needed to pace herself or she'd never finish.

"Back to work," Asshole snarled as he sauntered past. Liv gave him a one-fingered salute and didn't move otherwise.

"Liv," Bill groaned as he dropped a block next to the one's she just placed, almost crushing her fingers, "remind me to kill you when I have the strength again. If you keep agitating him, he's just going to keep picking on you. And he seems to believe that means he should pick on me, too."

"Bill, what's his name?" she asked.

"I dunno," Bill mumbled, leaning on the sun-hot cinder blocks.

"Exactly," Liv exclaimed. "I'm not going to placate some fuck-stain who can't handle simple niceties. So, he's going to get from me what he gives me."

"Man, you're going to be the death of me." Bill sighed. "In fact, I have heat stroke. I'm going back to my trailer. You can keep going if you want to beat your head against the wall."

"Fine, I'll tell Asshole you couldn't cope," Liv said, her voice angry. Bill stepped up to her and grabbed her arm. It hurt more than it should, and she realized that she'd gotten sunburnt, which meant that the sun was worse than she'd thought. But more important was Bill and the grip on his arm, while he glared at her. "You want to rethink that, right now," she said softly.

"You're such a bitch, Liv," he snapped and stormed off. She glared after him, rubbing her arm. This was supposed to have been a fun trip with a bit of hard work for a good cause. It wasn't supposed to be a reason to fight with her boyfriend.

"Ya ok?" Liv glanced at the guy who approached her. He was a fairly average fellow, with reddish hair and a smattering of freckles. He would have been unnoticeable, save for his lilting Irish accent.

"Yeah," she sighed, shaking her head. "Bill's just being... a jerk."

"Aye, just a bit," the guy laughed. "Collin."

"Liv," she said, shaking his hand.

"Here, lemme help ya wit' these," he said, walking toward the truck. "So whadda ya think so far?"

"It's going to be tough," Liv sighed, thinking of Bill wimping out on the first day. "Asshole doesn't help."

"Who... the supah?" Collin asked, laughing a little. "Is that what yare calling him?"

"Yes, though in part that's because he walks the Way of the Asshole." She giggled. "Or I should say the Dao of the Asshole. He's a black-belt master."

"Dat he is," Collin laughed, grabbing the first cinder block and hefting it easily.

Liv picked up her with less ease. "In fact," Olivia grinned easily as they walked back toward the pile, "we should all call him that. Spread the word..."

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The group had started their tasks easily enough; grunt work, they seemed to be able to manage well enough, even with Vinny 'translating' between the Kuwaitese and the english-speaking volunteers. It wasn't a particularly hot day, but as predicted, there'd been no sign of the gay spaniard and the newbies were turning a wonderful shade of crimson that wasn't due to Vinny, and the Aussie had already nearly collapsed from heat stroke. Vinny had just finished 'tending' to the bombshell and assigning her 'water-girl' duties for the day when he saw Fuzz walk off and Freckles move in.

Droppin' like fuckin' flies! Bah, ass-tard'll be gone by the end of the week. He's just chasin' the tail. Not that I blame him.

He looked over at Granola as he tossed the icepak he was holding to the Aussie and stood up from his vantage at the check-in. "Keep that on your head darlin'."


Grabbing a bottle of SPF 75 and a bottle of coolish water from the cooler, he walked over as they were setting down their blocks, well Granola nearly dropped hers, but who could blame her, it was a shitty job.

They were smiling at each other about something, but Vinny didn't really care. "Hey Freckles, thought I told you to fuckin' dig."

"Nah arsehole, ya hawd me-"

Vinny interrupted, cupping a hand around his voice as he yelled across the build to a man on the far side in Arabic. It was mere seconds before the man was gesturing to Freckles with a smile, waving him over emphatically with one arm and holding a shovel in the other.

"See...told you, fuckin' dig." Vinny said, clapping him on the back as he moved to walk away.

If Vinny had been looking, or cared, he might have noticed the glance and knowing nod exchanged between Freckles and Granola...but he didn't.

"Reapply every couple hours, it sweats off fuckin' quick." Vinny said, tapping the bottle on Olivia's burnt arm before she swiped it in anger.

"Thanks for the advice Asshole." Granola retorted, glaring at Vinny.

He could feel the capital 'A', she hated him, sad thing is, it just made him smile all the more. This was pure entertainment, he hadn't had any fun like this since he had been assigned to this god forsaken armpit of a town. A class of preschoolers with legos could build this shit, he was being wasted here. But now...now this was makin' it all worth it.

Vinny thought for sure he could nail the Aussie, she almost seemed to think it would help get her out of heavy work duties if she slept with him. Granola though, there was the challenge, she was spitting fire, and Vinny wanted nothing more than to quench that flame.

"That cold beer sound any better yet?" He said, offering her the water.

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"Do I get to dump it over your fucking head?" Liv asked caustically as she took the water from him. She'd been trying to keep hydrated, but it was hard to do and work; it seemed like any effort in the sun wrung all moisture out of her body through her skin. As much as she hated to see Asshole, the water he'd offered her was all too welcome. She twisted the cap off and took a deep drink. Despite her throat clamoring for more, she stopped there. Too much water would cramp her stomach.

He made a face around his cigar. "What a fuckin' waste," he said, then grinned again. "I could teach you the proper use of beer if you don't know what to do with it."

"Fuck off, asshole," Liv said, turning her back to him. "I have work to do." Grumbling to herself, she uncapped the lotion and spread it on the back of her hands. Hissing a little at the unpleasant tingle, began to work it into her skin. She'd never been sunburned before, really; the one trip the family had taken to Disney World had come very close. She'd had to be in the water all day to come that close.

She was a little disappointed, she reflected as she worked lotion into sore skin. She'd thought that her African ancestry would protect her from the sun, but apparently, she was a little too much Japanese and Caucasian for that to work perfectly. Olivia was used to being not enough of one or the other; it'd been the story of her life. Grandmother Izumi didn't even want to acknowledge her; aside from one trip to Toyko when the old bat had refused to see her or Delayah. Olivia's clearest memory of that trip was waiting in a park with Delayah while every Japanese person who walked past did a double-take at her features.

Her hands, still moist with lotion, finally worked up to her shoulders, slipping under her tank top and bra strap alike. Her fingers made her wince as she worked it into her skin, but the soothing cool of the lotion made it worth it. She angled her arm awkwardly, trying to get at that last bit skin.

Big hands placed themselves on her shoulders, rubbing the lotion in and covering what she couldn't reach. For a second, Olivia was just grateful for the soothing touch those hands brought; then she realized that only one person was close enough for that. She jerked away from Asshole, turning to glare at him. "Next time you touch me without my permission," she snarled, "you're getting hammered with an assault charge, fucking Asshole."

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Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
"Fuck off, asshole," Liv said, turning her back to him. "I have work to do." Grumbling to herself, she uncapped the lotion and spread it on the back of her hands. Hissing a little at the unpleasant tingle, began to work it into her skin.

"That you do darlin', seeing as Fuck-Fuzz went off and left ya by yerself." Vinny said walking away behind her, "Better get crackin'."

Stir the coals, start the fire.

Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
Her hands, still moist with lotion, finally worked up to her shoulders, slipping under her tank top and bra strap alike. Her fingers made her wince as she worked it into her skin, but the soothing cool of the lotion made it worth it. She angled her arm awkwardly, trying to get at that last bit skin.

He glanced back to watch her massage the lotion into her arms, and foreseeing her predicament, quietly walked back the couple steps.

Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
Big hands placed themselves on her shoulders, rubbing the lotion in and covering what she couldn't reach. For a second, Olivia was just grateful for the soothing touch those hands brought; then she realized that only one person was close enough for that. She jerked away from Asshole, turning to glare at him. "Next time you touch me without my permission," she snarled, "you're getting hammered with an assault charge, fucking Asshole."

Vinny pulled his hands away, putting them up in mock surrender, but smiling around his cigar the whole time. "Dunno, Granola, you were enjoying it, and there is plenty fuckin' more where that little taste came from."

He was hardly worried about any charges, despite Kuwait's public desire to declare equal rights, culture doesn't change overnight and Granola was more likely to get herself sent home that for Vinny to actually be arrested. Especially when the charges came from a woman dressed in less clothing that the local prostitutes. Besides, she was more mouth than action it appeared, and Vinny was more than willing to take his chances.

"My offer still stands darlin'," he said backing away, "You'll find yourself thinking about me tonite when you are broiling in that fucking tuna can."

Vinny finally turned and walked off, his attention quickly grabbed by a worker who seemed to be complaining about one of the volunteers by his gestures and loud, protesting voice. Vin shook his head and wiped a hand down his face as he stormed off in the direction indicated, his scowl putting gothic gargoyles to shame.
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Unfortunately, he was right, as Liv learned after the work day ended. The trailer was a metal box, and even with the windows and doors open, it was an oven inside. Liv was experienced enough to know that would change with the sunset. Then it would become an ice box when the temperatures plummeted. For that, she had blankets at least. But she didn’t have a great fix for the heat.

Clarissa had been very quiet since she’d collapsed onto her bed. Liv choose to lay on the floor; it was marginally cooler down there, and it wasn’t like she could get her clothes more dirty than they already were. She sighed and tried not to wonder if Asshole had better digs as the super. Probably. He said cold beer, which implies that his refrigeration works better than mine.

Stop that. You’re not helping.

And now you’re talking to yourself.

“Hey, baby,” Bill said, and Liv lifted her head to find him jerking his eyes away from Clarissa. Fighting back annoyance at him – after all, she stared at the other girl’s breasts too, so it wasn’t like she could complain – she waved but didn’t get up. “Abbas brought cold drinks and dinner.”

“You had me at ‘cold’,” Liv said, hopping to her feet with more energy than she should have had. It was amazing how her body could react to the possibility of reward. Clarissa was able to drag herself to her feet, too, and followed them out.

Despite her new-found hatred of the sun, Liv paused to take in the fiery red colors of the setting sun. They were vibrant, especially against the austere landscape, and for a second, she understood why people could live here. Then a scorpion scuttled over her foot and Liv remembered the hundred other reasons that people wouldn’t want to live here. Great sunsets were nice, but that’s what cameras were for, after all.

Abbas and Collin were tying up a canvas cover between Collin’s trailer and the one that Bill shared with John, the white South African. Wouldn’t do to have two tokens, Liv sighed to herself, more rueful than actually upset. The cover provided shade from the last rays of the sun, and a folding table and chairs gave a place to sit. A cooler sat nearby, sodas floating in water that had once been ice. The table had several dishes on it, including some hotdogs and chips in addition to the more native cuisine like machboos. Ignoring the Western food she knew, Olivia dug into the Arabic dishes, eager for the new experience.

“What the hell?” Collin muttered suddenly and everyone turned to see Asshole walking toward them, carrying a case of beer. Liv quirked an eyebrow as he walked up and put the case on the table.

“Thought you all might like some real drinks,” he said, pulling one out for himself and cracking it open.

Liv looked around the table; no one moved toward the beer for a moment, and most eyes were on her to see her reaction. She opened her mouth to blast him soundly for thinking that they could be won over by beer – and Clarissa grabbed one. “Thanks,” she said, giving him a little smile. John mumbled a thanks and took one, then Bill did the same, ignoring Liv’s dark look. Collin looked at them, then purposefully glanced at Liv and went for another soda, instead.

“So what’s your name?” John asked, his accent strange.

“Asshole,” Liv spat as he said, “Vinny.” There was an awkward pause.

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Vinny walked to the table, expecting to get a cold reception, the first day was always the worst, whether you were used to the work or not. He had pushed them hard, but not any harder than they could go. They just didn't know how hard they could be pushed.

That led to the beer; get them just to the point they would snap, then reel them back in, assuaging their thoughts that he was a stone-cold hardass. He wanted respect, not a price on his head.

“Thought you all might like some real drinks,” he said, pulling one out for himself and cracking it open.

Liv looked around the table; no one moved toward the beer for a moment, and most eyes were on her to see her reaction. She opened her mouth to blast him soundly for thinking that they could be won over by beer – and Clarissa grabbed one. “Thanks,” she said, giving him a little smile. John mumbled a thanks and took one, then Bill did the same, ignoring Liv’s dark look. Collin looked at them, then purposefully glanced at Liv and went for another soda, instead.

“So what’s your name?” John asked, his accent strange.

“Asshole,” Liv spat as he said, “Vinny.” There was an awkward pause.

Vinny pulled out a cigar and lit it with a jet lighter from his pocket. He stood there for a moment, looking at the people at the table as he took a couple puffs before seating the cigar in the side of his mouth. Most were avoiding his gaze, cautiously looking at each other, all except Granola that is. Fuzz had his head in his hands, shaking it in disbelief.

Vinny looked down at Granola, "Leave it on the site Granola, kapeesh?" That was her only warning, he wasn't shittin' around here. A certain amount of fun and games was fine, and Vinny's amount was nearly endless, but all-out insubordination in front of the volun-queers was not acceptable.

"Just here to shoot the shit and toss back a couple."

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"I can be polite if you can," Liv said easily, leaning back in her chair. There was a hint of challenge to her voice, but only in that meant it literally. If he wanted her to chill, he should chill in return.

Things were a little calmer after that. Someone dug out a CD player and everyone produced some discs. Collin set himself up as the DJ for the evening, cycling through the available music. The beer flowed - not too quickly, but still fast enough to loosen tight muscles - music played, and the conversation started. Abbas remained for a while, but once he sensed the volunteers were bonding, he slipped away to let them do it.

When full dark fell, a kerosene lamp was lit. While the volunteers were tired, this is their reward; the relaxing after a hard day, cramming to learn about each other before the world pulled them apart again. Collin made a half-hearted pass at Clarissa, before it became apparent she wasn't interested. John didn't try. Clarissa, like so many beautiful women around the world, was gravitating toward the authority figure, in the hopes of lightening her load. The problem was that Vinny wasn't going to make it easy for her.

Liv was fairly disgusted by the whole thing. It was obvious what was going on, and women like that annoyed her. So she focused on Bill and Collin; Bill was happy, and when he was like this, she was reminded why she was with him. He made her and Collin laugh. Collin was funny, too, and Liv could see the possibility of a friend in her Irish peer.

She missed the brief, considering glances she got from Asshole.

Someone passed between her and the light, and she looked up to see Clarissa smiling down at her. "Wanna dance?" the lovely red-head asked.

"Me?" Liv asked, even as she glanced at Bill.

"Oh, baby... there is no way I'm stopping you," he grinned broadly.

"Yes, you," Clarissa said, offering her hand.

Liv took it slowly, but allowed the woman to pull her to her feet and out to a clear area of sand. As Clarissa started to dance - with a good two feet between them - Liv glanced back at the group and saw the eyes on them. That's her game, Liv thought, and almost walked away and left her there. But Clarissa was hot, and Liv grinned as she got a better idea.

She boldly stepped up next to the red-head and put her arms around her waist. "What are you doing?" Clarissa hissed.

"Do you want to impress him or not?" Liv whispered as they rocked more or less together, though they didn't quite have the rhythm yet. As a blush crossed Clarissa's face at being called out, the young Blasian murmured, "Follow my lead. Put your arms around my shoulders."

Clarissa might be a bimbo, but Liv wouldn't pass up the chance to grope the lovely woman.

Clarissa's grip around her shoulders wasn't too persuasive, but Liv didn't need it to be. Liv intended to lez this up enough for both of them - and the watching men. She slipped her leg in between Clarissa's and straddled one of her legs. Using her hands on her ass to draw her in tight, Liv started to grind on the other woman in time with the music.

Clarissa looked surprised and a little lost, but when Liv's leg stimulated her body, she got into it. A blush crept up her fair skin as their breasts brushed, and her breath caught in her throat when Liv pressed into her with a bit more force. Liv even dared to nuzzle into the fair chest above the edge of her shirt, leaving a path of breath-warmed skin in her wake. Her dark hands cupped Clarissa's ass, drawing soft moans from both of them.

She heard Collin whisper, "Holy shite." Fighting the udge to look at him, Liv decided that it was time for the finishing move. "Kiss me," she murmured as she nosed the other woman's ear.

"What?!" Clarissa whispered back.

"Do it," Liv said, "and make it look good. Then make your play for him."

Clarissa caught Liv's face in her hands; with her palms warming her cheeks, Clarissa kissed her, an open-mouthed, full-tongued exploration of her mouth. Liv joined the kiss with complete enthusiasm, trying to curl Clarissa's toes while wondering if maybe she could convince her to forget Asshole and sleep with her instead. She found herself getting carried away, driven by the soft cloth-covered flesh under her roaming fingers. One hand stayed on Clarissa' ass, pulling her tight; the other cupped the other woman's breast. She could feel a hard nipple under her palm and she curled her fingers around it, stimulating the sensitive nub. She was a little surprised she could think enough to do even that; the intense kiss was curling her toes and shorting out her brain.

As the song ended, the women broke their kiss, their bodies still twinned for a long moment, lips centimeters away. For a second, Liv thought it had worked, that Clarissa would come back to the trailer for some Sapphic delight.

But Clarissa turned away from her, drawing away from her, and walked over to Asshole. With a coy smile, she leaned down and murmured something in his ear. Liv watched, feeling a spurt of jealousy.

Bill slid his hands around her waist as he clasped her from behind. She could feel his hard-on through his jeans as he murmured into her, "That was totally hot. I want you, right now."

She turned her head and leaned into him. "OK. I think my trailer will be open tonight, at least for a bit," she whispered, starting to walk that direction. She remembered to wave goodnight to Collin, but most of her was already thinking ahead to the time with her boyfriend.

Now this was the way to spend a vacation.

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Vinny nearly swallowed his cigar, he would say he had dropped his beer, but he forgot he had one.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, someone yelled at him that he was being manipulated, that this was all a ploy, but the bulge in his pants was calling the shots as he watched the two go at each other.

By the time they kissed, Vinny was in utter shock, no fucking way was this happening, but it had, and he had been able to burn the image into his mind for all eternity.

It was sad when they separated, disappointing that the show was ending. That little voice yelled at him to clap, play it off, but it could not make itself heard over the roaring waterfall of testosterone flooding his brain.

Then the Aussie started walking towards him, and whispered in his ear what exactly she had planned for the evening activities. That was the final fucking straw.

Vinny stood up, crushing his cigar out on the table, "Night slaves, shift start 6am sharp, don't be late."

With that he hoisted the Aussie up into his arms and started carrying her away into the darkness. She had already saw fit to start nuzzling Vinny's neck as they walked, running her hands through his short-cropped hair.

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Clarissa became a lesson for others, because her attempt to gain favor with Vinny by seducing him was only partially successful. The part that was successful was the seduction; the part of gaining favor less so. By morning, she was just another one of the 'volun-queers' with nothing to show for it save Vinny being in a better mood.

Liv was in a better mood too; Vinny had decided to put Clarissa on cinders, but Liv was off with the survey team, holding poles and remembering to keep up the suntan lotion. Compared to yesterday, it was sweet work. Bill was left on cinders and joined by Clarissa, with Collin digging with John.

Once Vinny turned from a half-way decent being and reverted into Asshole, Liv found herself digging with John while Collin got to work with the survey team. That was the pattern of the next several days, with Liv getting the easy work until Asshole pissed her off or she got mouthy. Usually the two were closely related. Liv also noticed that she didn't get to work with Collin or Bill, just John, who was boring as whey, or Clarissa, who wasn't talking to her since Liv had told her she had gotten what she deserved.

While Asshole could keep her isolated from her boyfriend and the only person she got along with here during the day, he couldn't stop the changes in housing that occurred. Bill managed to convince Collin to take John as a roomie, then he moved Liv in with him. It wasn't that sexy, not with the twin beds bolted to the wall, but it was more comfortable than staying with a pissy Clarissa, who had been isolating herself since she'd gotten rebuffed by Collin.

Living with Bill brought one problem that Liv hadn't foreseen; there was no escape from him. She saw him all the time; they shared a bathroom and living space and were generally crammed together when they weren't working or socializing at the end of the day. It was her first experience living with someone she was dating, and neither was really ready for the forced intimacy. Worse, Bill was becoming increasingly resentful of being here at all. Asshole had left him on cinders, and every day that Bill protested just made Asshole's smug smile all the wider when he announced "Fuzz on cinders" the next morning.

Finally, Bill had had enough. On the afternoon of the fifth day, Liv came into their cabin after the end of their shift to find him stuffing his shirts into his bag. "What are you doing?" she asked, her eyes widening.

"I'm fucking leaving," he growled. "I can't take another day of this fucking hellhole. If you want to be a big hero and save the world, go on."

"Oh, no, wait," Liv said, holding up her hand. "Just... please talk to me about this." His packing slowed, then stopped. "Tell me what I can do," she pleaded softly, "to fix this."

"I want that asshole to put me on something other than cinders, and I want him to stop having you work away from me!" Bill snapped. "But he's not going to do that, because he fucking wants you!"

Liv rolled her eyes. "Asshole hates me," she said. "He's just tormenting you because he can."

"Yeah? Then why doesn't he torment you?" Bill asked.

"Oh, he does!" Liv grumbled, holding out her hands. "Have you seen my blisters from shoveling?"

"But you get to do other stuff," Bill whined. "All I do is fuckin' cinder blocks!"

"Look, stop packing and I'll go talk to him," Liv said, her voice soft. "If you're right, I might be able to convince him to lighten up. I'll even take your chores again for a few days. If you're wrong, then the worst he can do is put me on cinders, too. Either way, you're no worse off."

Which was how Liv found herself walking through the village, looking for one house among many. Abbas had insisted on walking with her, and she'd agreed to wear the damn hajib and black over-robes. It was for her own safety, but it didn't make her feel safe. It made her feel blinded and hot. Her guide led her to a small house, then stood aside for her. Aware of Abbas watching, she knocked on the door.

He answered wearing shorts and a towel around his shoulders, his dark hair gleaming wetly in the late afternoon. He didn't realize it was her for a moment; he saw the clothes before he looked at the face. His eyebrows rose when he finally saw her, even as his eyes swept down and up her body one more time. "Finally want that cold beer?" he asked, grinning wryly.

He stepped back and she entered, pulling the hajib off with a scowl. Her cornrows tumbled loose as she muttered darkly about mysoginystic religions. Sighing, she looped the head scarf over her arm and turned to look at him. "Vinny," she said, and he realized it was the first time she'd said his name, "I wanted to talk to you about Bill. He's been doing nothing but cinders, and I wanted to switch with him tomorrow, or at least work with him. We came here to work and do stuff together, and aside from the first day, we haven't gotten to work together. I came here hoping you and I could work out some kind of arrangement regarding his schedule."

It was so sweet and naive for her to intercede for him. And what a pussy for not doing it himself.

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Vinny was surprised at first as he opened the door, his heart skipped a beat at the initial thought that the mother of that one girl...what was her name? Had come to cut off his balls, but he recognized the eyes and relaxed instantly. With many women walking around with nothing showing but eyes and dressed basically identical, you get good at telling people apart by their eyes.

When she used his name, he went on guard almost immediately, the muscles in his chest tensing. She wanted something, or something was seriously wrong, it soon proved to be the former as she continued.

Originally Posted By: Olivia Jenings-Izumi
It was so sweet and naive for her to intercede for him. And what a pussy for not doing it himself.

Vinny opened the fridge and pulled two beers out, handing one to Olivia as he sat down in the barcalounger, it protesting his weight with a groan.

He had to admire her loyalty to Fuck-Fuzz, despite what a douche he was, she was trying to help him. Vin had been sure he was gonna be gone in the morning by the way he walked off the site today, but it seemed Granola had caught him. That didn't mean he was going to give any, if he couldn't man up, not much of a chance anything she did was going to keep him here.

The sound of the beer cracking open was loud in the tiny space and Vinny was quick to slurp the foam down before it could spill on his freshly washed chest.

"Sure you wanna do this?" he asked, swallowing.

"Yeah" she responded, sitting down on the small matching loveseat, holding the unopened beer.

"Alright darlin', what did you have in mind." Vinny sighed, closing his eyes and squeezing the bridge of his nose between two fingers.

Drama, I HATE drama, Fuck-Fuzz needs to go...ugh, getting a headache.

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Liv sat uncomfortably; she'd met him on his own ground for a reason, and not just because she couldn't find him at camp. She wanted him to be comfortable, and to feel in control; in this matter, he was in control. After a second, she opened the beer and caught the foam before it dripped on the floor. "I would be willing to perform extra duties," she said softly as she cleaned the foam off her lips, "to be assigned to the same duties as Bill. You always stay on-site an hour or two longer; maybe I could help you finish up faster by doing some paperwork or filing or something. So I figure I can help you there.

"Or we can talk about why you are so hard on him," she continued. "I could show you another side, or help you understand him. We could clear this up right now." She took another sip and sat back, crossing her legs. Her toes peeked out from under the edge of the robe, framed by the soft leather of her sandal. "I am curious why you ride him so hard. I understand Clarissa, and what happened there, but you didn't like Bill from the start and I'm not sure why."

Her dark eyes were slightly pleading as she looked at him, and the stress of dealing with Bill's tantrums was suddenly very apparent. She was letting her guard down and reaching out to him, and in doing so, she was showing him the person behind the tough-girl he usually saw. She sat down her beer and extended her hands, stating, "Help me fix this, please. I really want to resolve this so that the rest of my trip is better. I'd appreciate it, very much."

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Vinny couldn't help himself, when she mentioned 'performing extra duties' he nearly laughed. Only her serious tone kept him from losing it completely.

As she continued, he dropped his hand from his nose and flung a leg over the arm of the chair, looking like some juvenile king on his throne.

"You sure the douche-bag is worth it?" Vinny said, waving his beer around.

Granola clenched her fists, then made herself relax and added, "I wouldn't be here if I didn't think so."

Vinny wouldn't bother with the obvious physical ploys, it wouldn't work, and it almost seem like cheating if he did. If he was gonna bag this kill, he wanted the hunt played out right. However, there wasn't any reason he couldn't handycap the prey if they came asking for it. Her forlorn want for pity was lost on him. Fuzz should have come himself, period.

"Alright darlin', here are the terms." he started taking a quick drink before setting it down and sitting up. "You have to stay in that cute outfit, least while on the site, don't care what you do on your own time. Also.." he said, speaking up a little as she was opening her mouth, "You may no longer address me as Asshole, its getting old. Thirdly, Fuzz is a whiny bitch, he wants better duty, then tell him to stop being a whiny bitch."

These conditions were all said with an air of confidence and tone of finality that led Granola to understand that these were probably non-negotiable. But hey, there had been girl-on-girl action on a Kuwaiti village construction site, stranger things could happen.

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She had to visibly swallow her anger, her throat actually working for a moment. It also gave her a moment to think, so when she finally spoke, it was clear and not a sputtering mess. It was a sign of her determination to make this work. "Your first two terms are fine," she said simply, her voice burning with the effort to remain civil. "But your last term isn't a term - you're telling me to tell him to come to you and negotiate, which negates our agreements. And I'm not calling him names for your pleasure, either. Either you and I agree to something, or I'll tell him to talk to you, but I'm not going to agree to something only to have him work something out on his own."

Her expression was angry as she finished, "Is that clear?"

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"Crystal." Vinny said, picking up his beer calmly, "You can tell Fuck-Fuzz he's on cinders tomorrow when you get back...if he's still here that is."

Vinny took a drink, looking over the can at her, waiting for the explosion.

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"Fine," she said, sweeping to her feet and leaving her beer on the floor. "I'll tell him that, Asshole. Too bad you're exactly what you appear to be: a petulant jerk whose ego is swollen on the petty amount of power he's been given. I'd been raised to believe that some people have worth; you're the best example of that statement being untrue." Her eyes burned with anger as she looked at him and snapped, "Have a good, scorpion-filled night, Asshole."

Wrapping the hajib back around her head, she turned and stomped back through the door, slamming it behind her. Abbas watched her stomp by before he opened the door, made sure Vinny wasn't lying in a pool of his own blood, and closed the door again.

Despite her outburst, Liv's anger quickly faded as she walked back to their trailer, her heart heavy.

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Vinny smiled as she stormed off, she was smart, she might figure out what happened when she cooled off.

"Akhi," he said, catching Abbas before he closed the door with the term of respect, "Make sure Bill doesn't leave tonight, fake a flat, get lost, whatever, just keep him fuckin' here tonight...ma'asalama."

Abbas nodded, "Yes, kafir." before quickly shutting the door.

Vinny shrugged to himself, and stood up, walking to the door and opening it to watch Olivia storm off, Abbas calling out to her to slow down.

"Darlin' you are so fuckin' easy to toy with." He whispered to himself as he leaned against the door jam. Before long a throng of children had blocked his view, kicking a soccerball-- no, a football through the dusty street. Realizing he was getting stares from the villagers at his half naked body, he stared back until they broke off and continued their evening chores.

The door closed behind him as he grabbed another beer and sat down, turning on Al-Jazeera, the only godforsaken channel they got out here.

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"No, it didn't work," Liv said softly, her eyes downcast as she pulled off the hajib and shrugged out of the robes. "He wasn't that reasonable." The trailer door slammed shut behind her, and sweat popped out of her pores immediately. It was infuriating that Asshole got a proper house, built to maximize comfort, and they had to stay in toaster ovens.

"Yeah I could have told you he'd be a jerk." Bill was slumped on the bed, staring off and away.

Liv looked at him for a moment, her brow furrowing as she tried to figure out what was wrong with him. "Are you... drunk?"

"A bit," he admitted, turning his head finally to smile at her.

"Oh, because that's going to help," she snapped, throwing down the black clothes in disgust. They crumpled dramatically to the floor of the trailer with a snap of cloth.

"Hey, this booze is keeping me here - givin' that fucker one more day to show me he can be cool," Bill ranted, oozing to his feet and swaying. Liv pressed a hand to her forehead, fighting tears, as he added, "I ain't done nuthin' to him. Nuthin' at all."

"I can't deal with you like this," she snarled. "I'm going to talk to Collin." She turned and opened the door, pausing on the step to let her eyes adjust to the difference in light between the outside and in. Behind her, Bill slurred something and followed her. She lifted her foot to move through the door, only to have him fall against her.

She tumbled out the open door, with Bill on top of her. Liv went face-first into the sand, feeling the wind rush from her lungs. Her automatic gasp pulled sand into her nose and mouth - and lungs. She was struggling to breathe within seconds, as Bill struggled to get off her.

"Eh, you fucka! What are ya doin' ta her?!" Collin's voice was strident and he didn't hesitate. He stepped forward and delivered a vicious kick to Bill's head that knocked the man off Liv. As Bill rolled onto his back, moaning, Collin pulled Liv up, cradling her as she spasmed with short, violent coughs. "John, get Abbas!"

As the South African ran off, Collin started to curse. He grabbed Liv's arm and turned it, his eyes widening at the cut there. Something buried in the sand must have cut her, and the Irishman pulled off his shirt and pressed it to her arm. "It's ok, Liv," he murmured to her. "John's getting Abbas, and we'll get you to a hospital." Or, he added silently, Abbas had better.


The next morning, Clarissa, John, Collin and Bill were there to meet Vinny. Collin looked pissed, while Bill was nearly green and sporting a fantastic bruise on his face. Abbas was also there, bowing his head as Vinny approached. "There was an accident last night," he said to Vinny in Arabic. "The dark woman will not be here today. She has cut her arm, and is resting on Doctor's orders." He glanced at the waiting volunteers and added, "Her... companion caused the accident; I'm sure that there will be few objections if you want him removed from the program."

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Vinny slowly shook his head, then rubbed his temples.

Drama, I hate fucking drama.

"Thanks akhi." he said to Abbas.

"Alright pukes same shit as yesterday, now get the fuck outta here." he said, waving his arm wildly.

"Not you Fuzz," Vinny said, pointing and stopping a sad, defeated looking Bill, "You walk with me."

He waited until they had gotten sufficently away from the site to assure no one was eavesdropping and visibility was gone before stopping and turning to Fuzz.

"What the fuck happened Bill. I want answers fuckin' yesterday."

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"Jesus..." Bill moaned, then sighed. "I was pissed at you, and Clarissa had been collecting the beers that no one finished off. So I bought some and... got toasted. And then when Liv left the trailer, I followed, and tripped, and there was something buried under the sand. Abbas said it looked like some old shrapnel or something from the war." He tore a hand through his hair, looking angry and sad. "She fell on it, and cut her arm. It was an accident! I wouldn't hurt her."

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"That's the fuckin' right answer, cuz I was about to waste your ass and bury you in the fuckin' sand!" Vinny yelled.

He stopped and took a deep breath before continuing.

Can't believe I'm gonna fuckin' do this.

"You're taking the day off, you can't see through that shit anyway," Vinny said, gesturing to his swollen face. "I would highly suggest you go grovel at Granola's feet for forgiveness 'til your knees bleed."

"Abbas can take you, now get the fuck outta here."

Vinny watched him jog liltingly away.

It's all fun until someone falls on fuckin' war shit.

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The groveling must have worked, because Liv was talking to Bill the next morning when she returned to the site. She was on restricted duty for a few days, but Vinny was only too happy to put Bill on the cinders again. And for once, the douche didn't complain - not for a couple of days anyway. True to form, Bill's good attitude shifted in the face of adversity, and soon, pretty much everyone was irritated with him.

She looked fine, save for the big bandage that covered and kept her stitches clean. She was also on an antibiotic as protection against whatever crud may have been on the metal. Despite the painkillers she was issued, she was still hurting. Vinny found her easier to get along with, as she didn't have the energy to really fight him anymore. He missed that, a little, but at least she wasn't calling him Asshole right now.

The one week mark approached, and Abbas, as was his habit, planned a small party for the kids to mark the occasion. He considered not offering alcohol, but Bill had been mostly good, and there had been no problems before that incident. So he provided some beer. It would be good for the kids to cut loose a little more. And he was right; even Vinny's presence wasn't enough to curb the high spirits that were unleashed that night. The volunteers had fun, and everyone went to bed in a good mood.

The event was a poor omen of what followed in the morning. Everyone was waiting at six for Vinny, and he handed out assignments as normal. When he said, "Fuzz, cinders" Bill snapped.

"No, I fuckin' won't." The words tore through the morning air like a challenge, and Vinny had to fight elation. He'd finally hit the loser's breaking point.

"Bill," Liv sighed, looking tired. "Just shut up and do it."

"Fuck no! I'm not fucking doing that anymore." He spun and walked away from the work site, heading for the trailers. After a moment, Liv followed him.

"Bill. Bill, wait, where are you going?" she asked, catching up with him.

"I'm done, I'm going home. If you wanna stay and wiggle your ass for him, go on. It's certainly worked for you so far," he growled.

"What the fuck! Hey!" She grabbed his arm and forced him to stop. "That's uncalled for."

"No, it's not," he snarled. "I thought you were being a pain in the ass, but you've got his number. He likes you to fuck with him, and that's why you keep doing it. And let's not even talk about Collin."

"Are you crazy? I'm here with you, moron!" she shouted, actually stomping a foot. These were the worst kind of fights; the ones where Bill went off on jealous rants. They stemmed from his lack of self-esteem, which just drove her crazy, because he wasn't as bad as he thought he was. He was rough, her diamond in the rough, but still a potential treasure.

"No, you're not now," he said, pulling away from her and jumping into the trailer. She was right behind him. "Stay here, fuck Collin, fuck the asshole - god knows you like bending your boyfriend over. I'm just tried of taking it up the ass. I'm gone."

Nearly blind with fury, she picked up her hairbrush and threw it at him. "You fucking asshole!" she shouted, looking around the room for something hard enough to throw at him. "I have been a fucking saint, and you accuse me of cheating on you? Fine, get out! Run away! God knows you don't have the fucking balls to stick it out!" Turning, she stomped out of the trailer, before he saw her hurt tears.

Despite her anger, she was slow to walk away from the trailer, giving him time to reconsider and come after her. She paused a little distance away, watching. Her heart lifted briefly when he came out, but he was hauling his duffel bag. He didn't even look for her, but went straight to Abbas, gesturing broadly. Sniffling, Liv turned away, not wanting to watch him leave. "Prick," she muttered as she wandered toward her assigned duty, wiping at her eyes.

Some vacation this had turned out to be.

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Vinny listened to the two argue without the same awkward dance the rest were, he'd seen this coming, hell, he'd helped it along.

Knowing the probable outcome was nigh inevitable, he made a shuffle in assignments, "Freckles, cinders. Rest of you, same as yesterday, get out of here, this isn't any of our fuckin' business."

Vinny walked over to where Granola was standing near the bricklayers, waiting for them to tell her to do something. This was his best chance to start wedging his proverbial explosives into her now cracked facade. If he was going to bring down this building, he needed to start setting charges.

"Hey, everything alright?"

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Liv shot him a glare and jerked her eyes away. She wasn’t fast enough to hide the redness, or the way her eyelashes clung wetly together. “I’m just fucking ducky, thanks,” she snapped. “That was a dumb fucking thing to ask.”

She heard the van start and she looked despite herself. Bill sat stiffly in the front seat, while Abbas looked resigned as he spun the wheel and headed toward the access lane they called a road around here. When the van didn’t stop, when Bill didn’t hop out and run back to try to fix things, she couldn’t even pretend she wasn’t crying anymore. She crouched down, pressing her face into her knees, the only place to hide at the moment. She heard Vinny shuffle uncomfortably, and thought, Serves him right.

But she wasn’t mad at Vinny. Oh, sure, he’d been an ass and pushed things to this breaking point, but he hadn’t made Bill basically call her a whore in front of everyone, or made him leave. That had been all Bill, and her pain turned into anger.

Fuck him. Fuck him! He’s a pussy who can’t handle his emotional shit. Fine whatever. Wiping her eyes, she stood up, inhaling sharply to keep from dribbling snot. “Fuck him,” she said clearly, just because it helped to hear it said.

Ignoring Vinny, she looked at the bricklayers. “Come on, guys… you going to have me do anything, or am I supposed to stand around and stick my thumb up my ass?” One of these guys had to know English.

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Yeah it was a dumb fucking thing to ask, but he had to find out how much of the tough-girl attitude was real, or if it was in response to Bill's pussyness. Vinny was happy to find out she still had the fucking spunk.

The workers all turned to her when she was talking to them, but she knew they didn't know any english. Worse, they were trying to ignore she was there because she was crying and distraught and it made them extremely uncomfortable.

Vinny said something at them in Arabic and they all immediately looked relieved and walked off towards the break tent, sparing glances back at Granola.

"Be fucking pissed, fine, but don't take it out on the help, just make em shit their pants."

He placed a hand on her shoulder as he tried to get her to make eye contact.

"Need to cool down 'fore I let you on site, you forgot your fucking headgear, last thing we need is you filing another damn injury report."

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Liv shifted uncomfortably. Asshole could sometimes show compassion – usually when drunk, but it was early in the morning - but she wasn’t sure that she should let him touch her. Still, it was nice that he was even pretending to care, even if he did just want in her pants. If Bill was right about that, and he might not be. And damnit, Asshole was right about her upsetting the workers. She knew their culture better than this.

She drew a deep, shaky breath. “Ok,” she sighed. “Point taken.” She glanced back at their - her trailer, reluctance clouding her features. Her gear was in there, where she’d just seen him, just fought with him. She finally met Vinny’s eyes as she quietly asked, “Can I borrow another helmet for today?”

He shrugged. “Not like anyone owns ‘em,” he grunted, using the hand on her shoulder to steer her toward the shed where they were piled. He watched as she pulled one out and went through the process to readjust it to her head.

Once her hat was on, she glanced at him. “Alright, can I get to work now?” Work, sweet, distracting work, was what she needed, more than anything else. It’d take her mind off things and leave her so worn out that she couldn’t lie awake tonight and think about how quiet things were in the trailer. Maybe if she asked Collin nicely, he’d move in with her. She could use the sound of someone else around, to abate her own loneliness.

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Vinny looked her over, she seemed calm enough, he considered moving her over to the excavation team, but then she would be with Freckles, and that was probably not a good idea with her vulnerable like she was.

"Yeah, go over and fuckin' tell them, '[[arabic for get back to work]]'."

"Alright." she said as she turned to walk across the site.

"Oh, and Granola..."

"Yeah asshole?" It wasn't said with the same blaze of hate that it had been, her tears had extinguished the fire.

"Those cold beers are still sittin' in my fridge."


Probably not the best time to be making that offer, but it could be taken that he was just giving her an opportunity to talk, either way, Vinny would get her in his place and away from the trailer.

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She sneered and rolled her eyes. "Oh, Vinny," she sighed, walking toward him, her face a moue of exaggerated lust. "I just lost my cock and I'm dying for you to be my new one. And that offer made me wanna just tear your fucking clothes right off!" She stopped, shaking her head, looking angry, disgusted and just plain tired. "Really?"

"Maybe I was offerin' to give you somewhere to be other than your trailer, darlin'," he pointed out, remaining calm in the face of her sarcasm and bitchery.

She blinked, taken aback, then shook her head again. "Given the context in which you've offered beer before, can you see why I fucking went there? Whatever. I have work." She didn't let him answer but stalked across the site, following his orders, presumably.

She didn't go to his house that night. For all her sarcasm to him about finding a new cock, she was aware that loneliness and exhaustion might very well lead to the encounter he wanted. Liv knew herself, knew that she was angry at Bill and that with some alcohol, she could probably be convinced to "get revenge" on him. She didn't want to do that. She wanted to be better than that. Yes, she was angry, but that was a shitty thing to do on the heels of a break-up.

So she hung out with the remaining volunteers, and while she was there, it was enough. She felt Bill's absence like a dull ache, but she was able to push it all away while with the others were around. Collin remained near her, quietly supportive. Clarissa on the other hand smelled blood in the water, and took her chance to rib Liv every chance she got. It was Clarissa who finally drove her to bed, alone in the trailer.

She was fine as she got undressed and lay down wearing only her underwear; the trailer was still incredibly hot, and she had blankets for later when the temperatures plummeted. She went to sleep without a problem or any tears. She was handling things fine.

She woke up in the dark, shivering from the cold. Gasping, she grabbed for her blankets, only to find that she'd knocked them to the floor. When Bill had been there, they'd looked out for one another. Whenever one of them woke up, they checked on the other. Sleepily, she lifted her head to make sure he hadn't kicked his blankets off, too - and saw the empty bed. For one incoherent moment, she felt a stab of fear and confusion, wondering where he was. Then, she remembered, and that broke her resolve. Shivering and sobbing, she curled into a ball and vented her grief and pain until the early hours.

She was late the next morning. Collin's knocking on her door was the only reason she woke up at all, so she came over after the morning assignments were given, chewing on a cold pop tart. "I'm late," she said to Vinny, without remorse or apology. "Am I on cinders?"

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Vinny had let himself drink too much while watching Al-Jazeera the night before and it showed. No one asked him why he was obviously hung over, and he wasn't sharing.

Though Granola looked like he felt, she had probably been crying most of the night by how puffy her eyes looked. You'd think her kitty got ran over by animal control instead of a breakup with the douche bag boyfriend, but who was he to say anything...

"We're behind schedule," he said, cradling a large mug of coffee, "Stay with the bricklayers, I'll be taking cinders today to catch us up, need to stretch my legs."

The shock on everyone's faces were short lived as he dismissed everyone with an angry wave of his hand and he started off towards the pallets of cinders that had were stacked high waiting to make it to the various areas needed around the jobsite.

Heave-ho and sally forth ass-tard.

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Liv was just as shocked as everyone else; she thought she'd be on cinders for sure today. Instead, she ambled over to the bricklayers, who managed to avoid staring at the nearly-naked woman - by their sensibilities anyway - in their midst. Liv had started to pick up a bit of Arabic, enough that when the bricklayers asked for something, she could usually figure out what they meant without charades. She worked hard, trying to keep her mind and body busy. Sadly, this was the kind of work that didn't distract her mind much, giving her way too much time to mull over what had happened yesterday. It wasn't good for her to think about this, but forcing her thoughts down another path brought only a temporary respite.

Only one thing brought her any real distraction, and that was Vinny. As much as she hated to give him much thought at all, she found his handover and his digging into the cinders task were making her curious. Liv had always been encouraged to indulge her curiosity, so she found herself pondering the state of the Asshole today when she managed to distract herself from Bill's ass-hattery. Could he be in such bad shape because she didn't go see him last night? She doubted it - that just seemed self-centered of her. There were plenty of reasons he might have over-indulged: got bad news from home, or he'd been in a mood to get wasted. It didn't necessarily have anything to do with her, but once she had the thought in her head, it didn't want to go away.

Liv managed to restrain herself until the end of the shift; then she loitered around the area a bit, helping the workers finish up their small tasks for the day. She got more than a few odd looks; most of the time, the volunteers couldn't wait to get to their lukewarm showers to cool down. But it gave her the chance to linger until she saw that Asshole was done. She headed toward him, not bothering to feign a casual attitude. "So, you look like shit," she announced, looking at him closely. "You ok?"

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Vinny was quiet that day, for Vinny anyway, which meant his yelling was reserved for when it was actually needed and not for 'motivational. purposes. He stopped every hour or so to drink some Gatorade and reapply sunscreen. Which was probably a good idea because sweat was pouring off him in rivers, which combined with the dust of the cinderblocks gave him an odd zebra pattern.

The break-neck pace he kept up never flagged, though the dark circles under his eyes never faded and he looked very pasty, though that could be from the sunscreen or the dust.

At the lunch break he sat alone over on the pallets and ate, having put a pallet on edge for shade as he sat cross-legged on another. Not wanting to disturb the hornet's nest, everyone steered clear and enjoyed the relative silence of the meal. After a half an hour almost exactly, Vinny got up and started working again, and with a glance from his dark sunglasses, the break tent started emptying quickly as workers got back to their respective tasks.

As the day finally ended, Vinny had managed to eliminate almost all but two pallets of cinderblock, those last two being needed relatively close to where they were and probably not needing moved. He had collapsed in the 'command' tent in his normal spot as the workers left and he surveyed what paperwork or decisions needed his attention before he left. His heart not really in it at the moment as his muscles protested the unrolling of blueprints, he shoved it off til morning and started to get up to leave, wiping dust off himself with his light khaki buttonup.

Originally Posted By: Granola
She headed toward him, not bothering to feign a casual attitude. "So, you look like shit," she announced, looking at him closely. "You ok?"

"Fuckin' peachy, how're you Granola?" he answered, sighing as the dust just seemed to make a paste with the sweat and smear around, giving him an odd tribal look.

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"Ok," she said, "but you're not 'fuckin' peachy'. Here, sit down." She directed him to a chair, taking his paste-covered arm. Liv's weakness had always been other people's pain and unhappiness, and so she found herself falling into that old care-giving role. As he grumbled and growled and let her do exactly as she wished, she wet a scrap of cloth she used as a handkerchief and started to clean his face.

"You're quiet all day," she said softly, her fingers gentle as she worked, "then you kill yourself on cinders, so much that you come here and collapse. You look like shit - I wasn't kidding on that. So what the hell is up with you, anyway? Call it self-preservation - when the boss is acting funny, it's time to worry."

She tipped his chin up gently as the cool cloth washed his face. Her expression was concerned and interested, both, her dark eyes displaying near-eternal patience, now that he'd shown some vulnerability.

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Vinny took the motherly abuse in stride, not really having the energy to protest too much anyway.

"Needed a workout, was getting soft."

The lack of swearing was disturbing, there were five places he avoided placing a curse. He didn't really want to talk about anything, he'd get over it in time, like everything else. If only he could make it to his house...

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