1-1-2003

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Title: #2 Bringing Heero Home
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: Jan. 1, 2003
Genre: Angst, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: PG-13
Warnings: AU, OOC, Swearing
Archives: At Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone with archive permission for my other fics can help themselves; anyone else, please ask.
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.

Notes: The arc begins between one and two years after Endless Waltz. Duo POV in this story.

'Thinking'
"Speaking"
************ Time passing or scene change

Author's Notes: This is the second in an arc of stories. I don't know for sure how many stories there will be or how often I'll be posting them. The length of each story in the arc will vary, anywhere from ficlet to multi-part. Warnings will vary from story to story as well, as will the genre. Pairings will probably eventually make their way in, but it will be quite a while since the first half dozen or so stories are drafted out and there's no real indication of pairings in them as of yet. Feedback is appreciated.

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Duo had almost decided that Heero had sent him off on a wild goose chase when one last passenger straggled out of the shuttle and approached the customs checkpoint. He waited patiently while Heero cleared customs. Cobalt eyes swept the area without spotting him and Duo saw Heero's shoulders slump. Mentally castigating himself for following his impulse to stay out of sight, Duo strode quickly across the waiting area, calling cheerfully, "Hey there buddy, 'bout time you got here!" When he threw his arms around Heero in a friendly hug, he was shocked to have Heero hug him back and hold him tightly in a grip that made his ribs ache. Rubbing Heero's back gently, he murmured softly, "It's okay, Heero. Everything's going to be okay. C'mon, let's go home and get you unpacked." Duo bit his lip in an effort to not cry out as Heero's grip tightened convulsively. "We'll have something to eat then you can tell me what happened, okay?" No sound reached his ears, but Heero's grip loosened, releasing him. Draping one arm across Heero's shoulders, Duo urged him out of the shuttleport and into his car.

"Nice, isn't she," Duo observed as Heero climbed into the restored classic car. "Did all the work on her myself. I've been thinking about selling out of the scrapyard, branching off into something else and maybe doing some of this classic restoration stuff as a sideline. The scrapyard business is gettin' pretty dull lately." Sneaking glances out of the corner of his eye as he manoeuvred through traffic, he saw Heero gradually relax a bit as he kept up the casual chatter. As they neared his house, Duo said, "Oh yeah, guess you haven't been here since I moved out of Hilde's place, have you? It's nothin' fancy, but I think you'll like it. Just a rental, but it's got a nice big garage for workin' on cars and an itty bitty yard with an itty bitty garden."

'Okay, Heero's always quiet, but he hasn't said a single damn word since I met him at the shuttleport. But damn, am I glad he ran straight to me rather than takin' off on his own. Oh, I'd have found him sooner or later, but the fact that he headed straight for his best friend rather than running off to nurse his wounds in private says a lot about how far he's come since the war. Even if most people think he hasn't changed at all.'

Leading Heero into the house, Duo pointed out the kitchen, living room, laundry room, and half-bath that comprised the tiny first floor. "The basement is fixed up as a workout room slash dojo since I decided health club memberships were a serious waste of money. And people tended to look at me funny - scrawny guys like me aren't 'supposed' to lift the kind of weight I do - or wreck the punching bag, for that matter. And upstairs here," he bounded up the short flight of steps, "is another bathroom - a full one this time, with both a shower and tub - my bedroom, and the guestroom. Which is currently kind of crowded since I've been using it as a study slash library. Sorry. We can either clear it out for you or you can share my room, whichever you..." Suddenly, Duo was having trouble breathing let alone speaking as he was again enclosed in arms of steel. Unwilling to say anything to upset Heero, Duo bore the discomfort in silence as he managed to free his own arms enough to wrap them around Heero and rub soothing circles on his back.

"Arigatou, Duo," a hoarse voice whispered softly.

"Nan demo nai," Duo answered just as softly, relying on his use of Japanese to let Heero know just how strongly he felt about this. "That's what best friends are for," he added, switching back to English. Having finally gotten a few words out of Heero, he was determined to continue to do so. "Now, what do you wanna do? Shower, food, sleep? Talk?"

Releasing his grip with every sign of reluctance, Heero said quietly, "Shower, then sleep?"

"Okay," Duo agreed. "Now, I gotta call off the search parties, so - shall I tell them you're here, or just that you're okay and to stop looking?" He immediately regretted the question as Heero dropped his gaze and hunched his shoulders slightly.

"Just stop looking," Heero answered reluctantly. "For now."

"Okay." With a brisk nod, Duo abandoned the obviously unwelcome subject and moved on, ushering Heero into the bathroom and pointing as he explained, "Towels are in the far cupboard, shampoo and soap in the shower, there's even a spare toothbrush in the drawer if you need it. Anything I'm forgetting?"

Receiving a silent headshake in response, Duo stepped forward and gave Heero a quick, firm hug, murmuring, "I'm glad you came," before leaving, pulling the bathroom door closed on his way out.

***

The shower had stopped running quite a while ago but Heero had not come down, so Duo guessed he must have meant it when he said sleep after shower. 'Damn, I'd hoped I'd have a chance to coax him into eating something first. Well, take a snack up and leave it by the bed so he can have it when he wakes up.'

Carrying a tray with a glass of juice and some fruit and cookies on it, Duo checked the guestroom first. No Heero. Raising one eyebrow slightly, he checked his own room. Heero was curled up on one side of the bed - the side nearest the door, same as during the war. 'He looks so young and lost,' Duo thought sorrowfully as he quietly set the tray down on the nightstand. 'J never equipped him to deal with living in peacetime. The rest of us had at least some exposure to so-called "normal" life to prepare us for a post-war existence. Heero didn't have any.'

Studying Heero's sleeping face, he was stunned to realize he could see the faint mark of a handprint. 'Damn, she must've really belted him one. Wouldn't have thought she could hit that hard. 'Lena probably bruised the heck out of her hand... Lucky she didn't break it...

'I should've seen this coming. 'Specially after the same damn thing happened with me and Hilde. I don't even know if Heero is capable of the sort of love that Relena needs. Not right now, that's for sure. And I'm bettin' that the whole reason she tried to force the issue is that she's run into someone else that she's attracted to, whether she consciously knows it or not. That's what happened with Hilde, anyway. Subconsciously, Relena probably needed to know whether it was time to let go or not. I don't blame her for that, but I wish she'd picked some other time to start losin' her temper. Heero didn't need all that to deal with. She's one of the few people he considers a friend, and all those hurtful words plus the slap must've really hurt. Heero's just really learned what friendship's all about. Hell, till I got that email confirming a flight booking in my name this morning, I wouldn't have even guaranteed that he really understood friendship. Now, I'd say he definitely does. He understood it well enough to come to me for help when he seemed to have been thrown out, anyway.'

As Heero stirred slightly, brow wrinkling and muscles tightening in the obvious prelude to a nightmare, Duo decided that he could use some sleep himself. 'I think I only got two or three hours last night before the phone rang.' Crawling in bed with Heero, he slid up behind him, spoon-fashion, stopping just short of touching. A moment later, Heero, without even waking, wriggled backwards to press tightly against Duo and relaxed. Wrapping one arm around Heero's waist, Duo marvelled at how familiar this felt, even this many years after the war.

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