1-11-2003

Title: #17 Asking a Favour
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Genre: Domestic, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: PG-13
Warnings: AU, OOC, Swearing
Archives: Also at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat.
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 eventually make their way in. Feedback is appreciated.

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Wrinkling his nose in distaste, Duo surveyed the piles of neglected paperwork. He had finally located the missing form for the inspector but it had taken him virtually all day yesterday. And all these messy, disorganized piles of paper remained. Page after page of handwritten, hastily scribbled notes about junked equipment that needed to be entered into the computer. Forms listing said equipment (particularly mobile suits) that needed to be neatly filled out in triplicate and submitted to the government declaring the equipment destroyed. Handwritten invoices and bills that needed to be entered in the accounting program.

Hilde had volunteered to take on the task of clearing up this mess when they'd fired the last clerk/receptionist as the total incompetent he was, but somehow she'd never got around to actually doing it. He should have noticed the problem sooner, but - well, he'd been a bit distracted with other problems over the past three months and had basically been putting in the bare minimum amount of time possible at the yard and hurrying home. And now some of those myriad forms were getting very close to being not only overdue but dangerously overdue.

What they needed was someone with a very methodical, organized mind, a lot of patience, and the ability to stick at the task until it was done. And that was quite definitely not him.

"Hey, Hilde," he called, "come in here a minute, would ya?"

"Make it quick, Duo, I've got another buyer coming in ten minutes to look at some old mining equipment parts," Hilde answered, entering the room. "Ugh, guess we really should do something about this. How long do we have to get those forms in anyway?"

"About negative two months, Hilde-babe. What happened to 'Don't worry, I'll take care of this mess'?"

"Err, I got busy with other stuff and forgot?"

"And I'm sure the government inspector will just love that answer when he comes looking for the other four dismantled Taurus suits that are listed somewhere in that," Duo said drily, pointing at one dangerously tilted stack.

"Look, Hilde, I know you said there was no way you'd let Heero work here again 'cause the other staff kept tryin' to quit last time, but if he only worked on this stuff and went through me for any questions..."

Looking around at the mess, Hilde grudgingly agreed, "Okay. But he has to stay away from the other workers, Duo."

Flinging his arms around her in an exuberant hug and giving her a sloppy smooch on the forehead, Duo exclaimed, "Thanks, babe! You're the greatest!"

***

'Okay, so Heero and Hilde didn't exactly see eye to eye when he was stayin' with me before. Of course, that was at her house and I didn't exactly say it was a long-term arrangement when I told her he was gonna be stayin' with me back then. And while me hiring him to work in the yard seemed perfectly logical at the time - hey, he was good at takin' stuff apart and puttin' it back together again and strong too! - it was not a good move. It never even occurred to me at the time that I was putting someone with absolutely no people-skills whatsoever in constant contact with a whole bunch of people, from workers to buyers.

'This is entirely different. This is a short-term arrangement to get the paperwork straightened out. Heero won't have to have contact with anyone other than me. Well, and maybe Hilde on occasion.'

Duo winced slightly at that thought. Hilde tended to be a bit... well, a bit strong-willed. And sometimes a little too blunt. Heh, no wonder she and Heero didn't get along - they had a lot of the same characteristics. But Hilde had already asked him how long Heero intended to sponge off him this time. Hopefully, she'd honour his request not to make those kinds of remarks, but... Well, he'd just have to make sure Hilde didn't get a chance to have any contact with Heero, especially not without him there. But first, he had to talk Heero into taking the job. And make it perfectly clear that this was not a "make-work" project invented just to give Heero a job.

As they settled down in the living room for an after-supper game of chess, Duo broached the subject. "Hey, Heero, I've got a kinda big favour to ask."

"Favour? What do you need?" Heero asked, looking up from his study of the board.

"Well, a few months ago, we fired the guy who was supposed to be doing all the paperwork and accounting stuff for the yard, because well - he wasn't. Doing it, that is. I don't know what he was doing except getting paid for sitting around looking busy all day, but anyway, we finally twigged to what he was - or wasn't - doing and got rid of him. Except by then, the paperwork was a good couple of months behind. So Hilde said she'd take care of it, but then we got real busy, and well - it's all still sitting there. In piles. Lots and lots of messy piles. And some of it's at least a couple of months overdue already.

"I know you're not real big on desk jobs, but do ya think you could maybe see if you could get it straightened out for us?" Seeing Heero shake his head slightly and open his mouth to speak, Duo added hastily, "I checked with Hilde already and she said it was okay as long as any questions you had went through me. It's just a lot of organizing and filling out forms, and I know that's awful boring, but you're good at organizing stuff and J never sent your mission reports back with a big, blinking, 'Please explain' the way G did mine a few times, so I'm hopin' that if the forms are all done right the first time, the government'll overlook the fact that they're seriously overdue..." Drawing in a deep breath, he continued, "I dunno how long it'll take you to get things straightened out, but once everything's caught up it wouldn't be more than a part-time job to keep it that way, so it's not like this is really a long-term job solution for you, but I thought maybe you wouldn't mind helpin' out while you're looking for something else..."

Looking somewhat reluctantly interested, Heero said, "As long as it's okay with Hilde..."

"Uh-huh," Duo nodded.

"Okay, I'll do it. But no promises - if I can't get it straightened out, you'll have to hire somebody else," Heero warned.

"No problem," Duo assured him before turning his attention back to their chess game. As he waited for Heero to take his turn, Duo worried about that response. He didn't like hearing Heero imply that he might not be able to do something.

All those jobs he went through in the time since the first war ended had really done a number on Heero's self-confidence. And they shouldn't have. He never lost a job due to lack of the ability to carry it out, and carry it out well. No, those jobs were inevitably victims of Heero's lack of social skills. Simply put, Heero didn't know how to kiss up to the boss, let alone follow the old adage of "The customer is always right".

That wouldn't be a problem this time, since Heero would be working for Duo directly, and he'd learned a long time ago to take Heero's blunt comments as what they were - a simple statement of truth along with a suggestion for improvement. Usually - unintentionally! - worded in about the most offensive way possible without using large quantities of vulgar language.

***

Bounding into the office, Duo stopped in his tracks in shock. "Holy shit! Heero, how the hell did you get this place looking so tidy already?! You've only been here a couple of days!"

Looking around the immaculate office and seeing paperwork neatly separated into small piles (and none of them on the floor, either), file cabinet drawers properly closed instead of half-open and sagging under their own weight, and a computer actually visible instead of buried under a mound of clutter, Duo was impressed. He had known - okay, more like hoped - Heero would be able to straighten things out. But he'd never imagined he could get even a few piles sorted this quickly, let alone have everything at least looking neat and organized.

Seeing the tiny, satisfied smirk on Heero's face, Duo realized why he'd worked so fast. 'Tryin' to show me you can pull your own weight, huh buddy? Well, that's never been a condition of you stayin' with me, but I know it'll make you feel a lot better to be able to contribute your fair share towards buying groceries and paying rent.'

"I've really just got things sorted out, not much actually done yet," Heero said a bit apologetically as he rose from his chair, "but it was hard to work on anything until I figured out where it all was."

"Hey, you've got more done than we'd managed in the... oh, three months or more, I guess... since we fired the incompetent twit who was supposed to be doin' all this." Giving Heero a quick hug, Duo told him sincerely, "Thanks, buddy. I know this," he gestured around the office, "isn't really your kind of thing, and once you've got it straightened out it sure won't take much time to keep on top of it, but I really appreciate the assist. And Hilde does too, even if she doesn't come right out and say it."

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- tbc -