2-7-2005

Title: #100 Preparation - Part 1
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: February 6, 2005
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Friendship, Romance, Domestic
Pairing: 1x2, OCxH
Rated: PG
Warnings: Swearing
Archives: At http://calic0cat.freeservers.com/ (my site) and at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone with archive permission for my other fics can help themselves.
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: See earlier fics for notes on the arc as a whole. Feedback is appreciated.

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Voicemail, dammit. He hated playing phone-tag with clients.

Stifling a sigh, Duo waited for the beep. "Hi. This is Duo Maxwell from Take Two Salvage, returning Mr. Cranston's call. It's 4:55 Monday afternoon local time.

"We have an ignition assembly for a Transair 1262-S in stock, but not an aft starboard motor for a 172 LakeKing Cruiser. We can try to track one down for you, but we'll require full payment in advance since it's such an unusual item. I'll be in the office from nine till five tomorrow; please call if you have any questions or if you'd like to place an order." Ending the call with a reminder of his phone number and a polite goodbye, he hung up the phone.

'Well, that was the last call,' Duo thought with relief. He hated returning calls; most of the time, he ended up talking to voicemail or leaving messages with secretaries, either of which just led to further delays in actually completing the transaction in question. Sometimes, he spent more time playing phone-tag with the client than it took to actually fulfill the client's request.

Standing, he stretched and rolled his shoulders. 'No more office work today; time to head out to the sheds.'

Duo changed out of his "office casual" clothing and into the "grubbing in the scrap" outfit that he kept available for those days when he needed to spend some time working in the yard. Hilde and Rick didn't bother keeping spare clothes in their offices since they lived right next door, but both he and Heero kept at least one set of clothing for every likely need - physical labour in the scrapyard, desk work in the office, and meetings with clients - on hand in their offices at all times. It simply took too long to run home and change anytime that something unexpectedly cropped up.

Like today.

Grimacing at the thought of the task that lay ahead of them, Duo laced up his safety boots. Whatever plans Heero might have had for their evening were definitely all shot to hell. Instead of the two of them doing a little more exploratory fooling around on the couch, they'd be exploring those damn sheds full of junk in the company of Rick and Hilde.

'Yippee,' he thought glumly. 'So much for any chance of us getting around to anything reciprocal in the next couple of weeks. We're going to be too tired and stressed out to even bother trying.'

When he and Hilde had been putting in sixteen-plus hour days back in their early days as business partners, there'd been a lot of times that they'd barely even been on speaking terms outside of the office. Between the long days and the high stress levels of preparing for the audit, relationships would probably get even more strained this time around.

Considering how new and uncertain the sexual aspect of his and Heero's relationship was, Duo was pretty sure that it was going to basically end up on hold for the duration. Just when the weekend's events had started to - sort of - get things back on track again. Okay, so maybe a few slightly awkward and decidedly one-sided handjobs didn't exactly add up to an unqualified success, but it was a start. He and Heero were communicating again, Sunday's post-basketball fooling around had been less awkward than Saturday night's, and he'd really been hoping that Heero would be ready to try something a little more reciprocal soon.

So much for that idea. Dammit.

And today was only Monday. What a fuckin' *wonderful* start to the week.

***

"I still think we should start with one of the smaller sheds by the house," Hilde grumbled. "It wouldn't take as long to finish one, and we'd feel like we've really accomplished something."

"True, but their location means that a case could potentially be made that those sheds belong to the house, not the business," Heero pointed out. "If we run out of time to complete the inventory, it would be best if those are the buildings whose contents remain unaccounted for."

Duo nodded in agreement. "He's right, Hil." In fact, those two small sheds were technically on the house lot, not the business one. Not that he actually believed that the auditor would buy that argument; the house and scrapyard had originally been on separate deeds, but they'd accidentally been combined when Hilde inherited the place. He and Hilde had been fighting their way through the red tape to have them split back up ever since he'd first invested in the business. And even if the lots *were* separated, it was pretty obvious that the sheds were being used as additional storage for the scrapyard. But the argument might buy them a little more time if need be.

"Besides," Rick pointed out, "I took a quick look around inside those two buildings. Most of the stuff in them is small; it's actually going to take *longer* to inventory."

Hilde crossed her arms and sighed. "Whatever. Which one of the others are we going to start with then?"

"I think the best bet is to start with the shed I used during the war," Duo said thoughtfully. Hilde was right that it would help if they started with a job that could be completed fairly quickly; the feeling of accomplishment would go a long way towards making the task as a whole seem more doable. "The shed itself was the most structurally sound of the bunch back then. And I did a lot of re-arranging to accommodate the suit; the stacks should be a little more stable and there's not quite as much stuff in there." After all, it had a Gundam-sized gap and wider aisles due to him clearing things out when he'd turned it into a temporary hangar.

"Fine. Let's go. The sooner we get started, the sooner we get this over with," she said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

As Hilde turned and strode off towards the back of the property, Duo bit back the urge to remark that they *all* wanted to get this task over with as quickly as possible, that they all had things they'd rather be doing. Finding out about the audit this morning had been an unpleasant surprise, one that they hadn't had much time to adjust to yet. Then Hilde had spent a frustrating afternoon trying to track down an eclectic assortment of hard-to-find items for another Klein order. And after only a few months of marriage, grubbing around in sheds full of junk was undoubtedly not her preferred evening activity.

It certainly wasn't his. He and Heero had already suffered one major setback in their relationship due to an unexpected event; Duo couldn't help worrying about the effect that this one was going to have. Two weeks of high stress levels, minimal private time, and concern about the business's future weren't likely to have a positive effect on Heero's problems with his control training.

But sniping at Hilde wouldn't help matters any. None of this was her fault anymore than it was his; they'd both let things get away from them last year and that had undoubtedly led to this year's audit. And they'd both wilfully put off dealing with the mess in the sheds ever since they'd become business partners, just as Heero and Rick had pointed out earlier.

True, he and Hilde had initially been busy just keeping ahead of the creditors, but it was very possible that there was salvage in those sheds that could have paid some of those bills. They could have made the time to tackle the task if they'd really wanted to. However, it *was* a big job, one that had been just a little too intimidating for them to be willing to tackle it until absolutely necessary. When it came right down to it, they had no one but themselves to blame for the fix they were now in.

Following the others back towards the shed, Duo thought glumly, 'Note to self: apologize to Heero.' Any setbacks caused by this "surprise" were definitely his fault.