1-4-2003

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Title: #6 Dinner with the Guys
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: Jan. 4, 2003
Genre: Angst, Friendship
Pairing: 3+4+3 implied
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 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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Duo ducked a kick and hopped over a leg-sweep. He'd forgotten just how hard he had to work when sparring with Heero. Even after several weeks of sparring with him again, he just couldn't seem to get used to it. Duo needed every bit of speed and agility he possessed, because if he let Heero get his hands on him or his arms around him, he was out of business. There was just no way of breaking that grip. Well, not in a friendly sparring match, anyway. Even as he thought that, he zigged when he should have zagged and ended up pinned flat on his back, Heero leaning over him. "Got me again, dammit!" he exclaimed. "Man, am I ever out of shape..."

Letting him up, Heero smirked slightly and said, "Bet I can still beat you in a game of one on one, too."

"Oh really," Duo grinned back at him. "Nearest court is a couple of blocks away. Wanna put that claim to the test?"

"You're on."

When they finally straggled home some time later, both flushed and dripping sweat, that particular claim remained unsettled. "If those kids hadn't showed up to use the court, I'd have got you," Duo insisted.

"Duo, we were tied. Even if you got the next basket, I'd have just tied it back up again," Heero answered.

About to protest, Duo noticed an unfamiliar car parked in front of his house. Recognizing the people climbing out of the car, he caught Heero's elbow and dragged him to a halt. "You ready to deal with the guys?" he asked, suddenly serious. "If not, go around the back and inside and I'll tell'em to lay off for a while. Otherwise, we'll go in together. Or if you want, I'll go tell them we'll meet them at a restaurant, we can both get cleaned up, then meet them there instead of them coming in." He had a feeling that Heero considered the house a sanctuary and might not want anyone intruding on that. Meeting the guys on neutral turf would also leave the option of just getting up and going home if things got uncomfortable.

"Go together, but arrange the restaurant?" Heero offered hesitantly.

"Sure?"

Sounding somewhat more confident, Heero nodded, "Sure."

"Let's go then," Duo said, draping one arm casually across Heero's shoulders in a show of silent support.

"So Yuy is here," Wufei said. Disapprovingly, he asked, "Why not tell us instead of just saying he was okay and we should stop looking, Maxwell?"

"Because I asked him not to," Heero said, stiffening slightly under Duo's arm.

"You're not gettin' off to a good start here, Wu-man," Duo warned. "Let it go. Look, there's a little Chinese place two blocks down that-a-way," he pointed. "Give us half, three-quarters of an hour to get cleaned up and we'll meet you there, okay?"

"That sounds like a good idea, Duo," Quatre answered for the group. "Heero, I'm glad to see you're doing okay."

"Thank you, Quatre," Heero answered in response to a slight nudge from Duo. "Hello, Trowa," he added a bit belatedly.

"Hello, Heero, Duo," Trowa answered, nodding to each of them.

"We'll see you guys at the restaurant then," Duo said, steering Heero towards the front door with a chorus of "Fine" ringing in the background.

"Sure you're okay with this?" Duo asked again once the door closed. "Wu seems to be in a bit of a snit over something - it could get a little nasty."

Heero hesitated, then shrugged slightly. "They're my friends. I'll have to face them sooner or later, right?"

That had sounded decidedly less certain than Duo would have liked. Damn Wufei and his moods. Probably he'd been a little rougher on Relena than he'd intended and was feeling guilty about it, leading him to take his own upset out on someone else. Namely the one he'd done the ranting on behalf of. 'I swear, it's a miracle we didn't all kill each other before the end of the war, with all the prickly pride, touchy tempers, and surprisingly sensitive feelings in this bunch. Hopefully Quat will play peacemaker again and get Wu settled down before we get there.'

"Right," Duo said, realizing that Heero was actually waiting for an answer. "But... it doesn't have to be today. If things get too uncomfortable, just head back here and leave the guys to me. They showed up without calling first, so I'm not about to invite them in, 'specially after all that attitude Wu-wu-boy was giving us out front." As expected, his mangling of Wufei's name had drawn a flicker of humour to Heero's face. It only lasted an instant, but it was enough to ease a bit of the tension. "Now - I'll grab my shower first so's I can work on getting this mop of mine at least partially dry while you take yours. And if we're late, Wu-man can just kiss my..."

"Duo!" Heero admonished, looking like he'd rather laugh than scold.

"What? I was gonna say 'braid', what'd you think I was gonna say?" Duo said, batting his eyelashes innocently.

"Go get your shower over with. I'd rather just not be late," Heero answered, one corner of his mouth twitching as if he were fighting off a smile.

Grinning, Duo ran up the steps.

***

Upon arrival at Wong's, it quickly became clear that Quatre had indeed worked his magic once again. Not only did Wufei drop the subject of why Duo had not informed them exactly where Heero was, no one mentioned anything to do with why Heero was now on L2. Everyone simply enjoyed the excellent food and good company. The only sour note had come when, in the midst of the mutual catching-up session, Quatre had innocently inquired as to where Heero was working now. Silently swearing at the clunker from the usually much more socially adept Quatre, Duo turned the question into a joke, grinning and slapping Heero on the back while he remarked, "Oh, he's working for me right now - you guys all know what a slob I was during the war, just imagine what I'm like now that I've got a whole house to mess up!" Sobering slightly, he added, "We've been looking around a bit, but nothing too serious just yet. Heero kinda needs to get a feel for L2 first, see whether he likes it here or not. No point in him finding his dream job just to decide he hates sharing a place with me and wants to move, is there, buddy?" Giving Heero a conspiratorial wink and a grin, Duo then redirected the conversation with a teasing query as to just why it was easier to contact Trowa through Quatre than through Catherine lately, resulting in flushed confusion from both parties in question and a surprised exclamation from Wufei who apparently had not yet noticed that particular detail.

The rest of the dinner passed without any more potential conversation-stoppers coming up, but as they all walked back to the house, Wufei commented in a neutral tone, "I'll give you till the end of the week, Yuy, but if either you or Maxwell haven't let Relena know where you are by then, I will tell her myself."

"Ryoukai," Heero answered flatly, continuing straight past the rental car and into the house.

"Damn it, Wu, he's not ready to deal with her yet! Hell, I don't know if I'm ready to deal with her. Yeah, she's my friend too, but Heero's my best friend, and she really did a number on him. And that job question didn't help matters either, Quat! What the hell were you thinking?!" Duo exclaimed in a furious but quiet voice.

"Duo, he seemed to be doing so well, I just never even considered..." Quatre attempted to explain.

Duo cut him off with a sharp motion of his hand, "Never mind, it's too late now." Turning to Wufei, he said, "Don't worry about Relena, if Heero doesn't want to take care of it, I will. Though she better not come running up here to try and apologize in person, 'cause he is not ready to hear it yet. And even if he hears her out, he is definitely not gonna do the whole 'forgive and forget' thing."

Throwing an anxious glance towards the house - he really did need to get in there and see how Heero was doing - Duo told the others, "Look guys, I'm sure you had the best of intentions in coming, and dinner wasn't exactly an unmitigated disaster so I'm not entirely sorry you came. BUT - and this is a big 'but' - you were wrong to show up without checking first. So, goodbye, have a safe trip home, and call first next time." Giving a quick hug to each startled ex-pilot, Duo turned and dashed into the house without even looking back.

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