1-3-2003

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Title: #5 Grocery Shopping
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: Jan. 3, 2003
Genre: Domestic, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: G
Warnings: AU, OOC
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 part of 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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Something was going to have to be done. Heero had been here a couple of weeks now and hadn't even set foot outside the door. He helped cook and clean; he did laundry; he did - something - on his laptop, it could be solitaire or hacking the Preventers' database for all Duo knew; he sparred with Duo; he even watched TV with Duo. But he never left the house. Or answered the phone. This was not a pattern of behaviour that Duo was prepared to let continue. It wasn't healthy - Heero had to learn how to function in the so-called "real" world. He needed to go grocery shopping and chat with neighbours and mow the lawn for the little old lady down the street. Okay, so the last two were pushing it, but Duo was determined to at least get the "go grocery shopping" part underway. The open-air market where he usually shopped would be perfect since he was on a first-name basis with every vendor he frequented. Take Heero along with him a few times and they'd accept him purely on the basis of his friendship with Duo. Or so Duo hoped.

"Duo, if you're going to have to carry the groceries around with you while you shop, why don't you just shop somewhere else?" Heero asked.

"Because I save at least 25% by shopping at the market square and I get better quality too," Duo told him patiently. "Look, if you really don't want to come with me, I can get by on my own I guess. I just have to make an extra trip or two back to the car since I'm buying for two instead of one." Ouch. He saw that flinch from Heero. Duo hadn't wanted to play that particular card - Heero was already worried about "imposing" on him. But this was too important. If he let Heero get in the habit of avoiding all contact with other people, it would only get harder to cure him of it later on. Better to bite the bullet and get it over with now.

"No, you don't have to do that," Heero said very quietly. "I'll come with you and help carry the groceries."

Damn. Now he felt guilty. 'It's for his own good, Duo. Remember that. He can't spend his entire life hiding out in a room somewhere, having his groceries delivered and refusing to go out in public.'

All the way to the market, Duo chattered amiably about the different vendors - who had the best fruit prices, who would haggle over meat prices and who would only take the posted price, where they might be able to find the more exotic items on the list - and yes, octopus definitely qualified as an exotic item on L2. In fact, Duo wasn't even sure they could buy octopus. But if it was available anywhere, one of these three vendors would have it. 'I just hope it's not as expensive as I think it's going to be. My grocery budget was pretty tight to start with and now that it's stretching to cover food for two people - yikes! Heero's pitching in some money towards groceries, but I don't want him using up too much money before we can find him a job someplace. Yet another reason to get him out of the house and moving around in public. He won't be satisfied with sponging off of me for very long.'

Locking the car, Duo flung an arm over Heero's tense shoulders and urged him towards the marketplace. Now, if he could just keep Heero from going into "mission mode" and getting all intense and intimidating, this should work out okay...

As he draped himself all over Heero in a tacit demonstration that no, the silently scowling scary person didn't bite for the fifth time in as many vendors, Duo wondered just why he'd thought this would be easy. So far, Heero had growled under his breath at two different young ladies that had tried to flirt with him and reduced one small child to tears with his glare when the child ran into him. This was not going as well as Duo had hoped. And the octopus was even more expensive than he'd feared. But since he was feeling distinctly guilty for guilt-tripping Heero into accompanying him, Duo bought it without even blinking. And he didn't even like octopus. 'Yuck,' he thought, handing that parcel over to Heero with a shudder.

Dragging Heero over to "Mama" Lucia's pasta stall, Duo prepared for yet another round of "don't mind the scary person, he's with me". For once, though, he didn't have to go through the whole routine. No sooner had he introduced Heero as "my best friend" than Mama went straight into "mother-hen" mode.

"Oh my, what a nice-looking young man. So strong and handsome. But too thin! All you boys nowadays are much too thin! Here, come sit down, Mama has just finished making up a nice fresh batch of spaghetti for the lunch hour rush." Scurrying out from behind the counter, the motherly (but very definitely not Italian, Duo knew for a fact that her maiden name was Wong and that her parents moved there from L5 nearly thirty years ago to open the Chinese restaurant two blocks from his house) woman pushed, tugged, and generally fussed until she had them both seated at a table in the small café that made up part of her stall. Looking at the completely bewildered look on Heero's face as he was forced to choose between vegetarian, seafood, pork, or beef sauce with his spaghetti (or risk being given a plateful of each), Duo had to struggle not to snicker. People like Mama Lucia simply did not exist in Heero's area of experience.

As soon as Mama hurried off to get their lunches, Heero leaned across the table towards Duo. Wide-eyed, he hissed, "Duo! Who is that woman? What is she doing? Why is she selling us something we didn't ask for?"

"Relax, Heero, that's just Mama Lucia's way of welcoming you to the neighbourhood. She isn't 'selling' us lunch, she's giving it to us." Seeing Heero's confusion increase, Duo sighed. Okay, simple altruism combined with an overwhelming maternal instinct was a little beyond Heero at this point. Taking another approach, he explained, "Look, if she gives us a meal and we like it, then we're more likely to come eat here again in the future, right? And we'll tell our friends and neighbours that the food here is good. Think of it as advertising, if that helps." Sure, that was part of the idea behind what Mama Lucia was doing. But it wasn't the main reason. He'd seen her pull homeless people off the street and feed them next to folks in business suits - who had promptly got up and left without eating or paying. That was just what Mama was like. But the advertising explanation had relieved Heero's concerns and he no longer looked like he was about to bolt. When he was ready to understand the complete explanation, he'd figure it out. In the meantime, they had a great lunch headed their way. Maybe it would even put Heero in a good enough mood to finish the shopping without him actually snarling at anyone. But Duo wasn't counting on it.

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