2-3-2003

Title: #29 How Did You Know...
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Angst, 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. Heero 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. The arc *will* eventually be Shonen ai/Yaoi - but there's only one faintly implied pairing prior to Fic #23. Feedback is appreciated.

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"Uh, I don't know 'Fei. I'll be away that week supervising a salvage job on an old resource satellite. I'll have to check with Heero and get back to you."

Just entering the room, Heero raised an eyebrow in silent inquiry. Check with him about what?

Duo held his hand out of range of the vidphone's camera and signalled him to wait. Intrigued, Heero leaned back against the wall, well out of range of the vidphone and waited while Duo finished the call and signed off. Evidently Duo felt that Wufei's request required a bit of private discussion.

"Well?" Heero asked as Duo turned away from the phone.

"You may recall that there's a major trade conference being held on L2 in a couple of weeks..." Duo began, giving Heero a questioning look. Heero nodded in response. The L2 government was making a big push to convince businesses that L2 was a viable option for building new manufacturing plants or starting up branch offices.

"You may *also* recall that Zechs and Wufei are currently both assigned to Relena's security detail..."

Heero nodded slowly, beginning to see where this was headed. It was, in a way, somewhat amusing that the Preventers had to assign *two* agents to cover the job he had previously handled alone. Apparently, all of the bureaucratic nonsense associated with Preventers had led to the agents voting to form a union. Which led to all sorts of lovely overtime bonuses as well as restrictions on the number of hours an individual agent could be required to work. While those restrictions could be waived on an occasional basis to accommodate exceptional circumstances, they could not be violated continuously. Guarding Relena was *not* a nine-to-five, five-days-a-week, job. It was a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week, job. Which translated to it being a two-Preventers-plus-standard-security job.

"Relena is, of course, going to be in attendance at the trade conference..." Duo continued, giving Heero a searching look.

"What does Wufei want?" Heero sighed. He *did* need to speak to Relena again, and it would be better handled in person. But he wasn't too sure that he knew exactly what he was going to say *or* that the trade conference would be an appropriate place to have that discussion.

"Nothing *too* major. He wants to borrow the guestroom. And the couch in the livingroom," Duo said with a shrug. "He's been over the hotel security repeatedly and he is *not* happy with it. He says there's no way to keep Relena sufficiently safe there. He wants her offsite entirely, along with either himself or Zechs. So she'd have her own security with her, they'd just be borrowing the living space for the duration of the conference. 'Fei figures our place is so low-profile nobody'd think to look for her here."

No wonder Duo had wanted to discuss this in private before giving Wufei an answer. A whole week of sharing the house with Relena plus whichever of the two Preventers was currently on duty. 'Am I really ready to face that,' Heero wondered silently. Oh shit. "And that's the week you're going to be away, isn't it?" he asked Duo.

Duo nodded in confirmation.

"Fuck," Heero muttered under his breath. It would be tough enough with Duo there to run interference. With him away... Shit. Could he handle it? "I'll have to think about it for a while," he told Duo.

"That's what I figured," Duo answered. "We've probably got a day or two before 'Fei will have to have an answer. That'll leave him enough time to make other arrangements if necessary." Turning towards the kitchen to fix supper, Duo called back over his shoulder, "After all, it's not like there aren't other options, Heero. There's no real reason they can't rent a place themselves if they have to. Or just pick a more secure hotel to hide her out at."

Heero flopped down on the couch with a sigh. He had a lot of thinking to do.

***

In bed that night, Heero couldn't get to sleep. And he was pretty sure his tossing and turning was keeping Duo awake too. Finally, he rolled onto his back and said softly, "Duo?"

"Mm-hmm?" came the quiet response.

"When Hilde wanted to know if you were in love with her, how did you know that you weren't?"

The sheets rustled and the mattress shifted as Duo rolled over and propped himself up on one elbow. Heero could feel Duo's gaze locked on him. "What do you mean?"

"I care about Relena. But I care about Quatre, and Trowa, and Wufei, and you, too. Hell, I even care about Hilde and those kids she dumped on me that day. What's the difference between that sort of caring and the love that Relena is looking for?"

"Shit, Heero, you're worse than the kids for asking impossible questions." Duo sighed. "I'm really not the right person to be trying to answer that one, Heero. I'm not too sure *what* it's like to be in love with someone. I can make some guesses, based on what I've seen of Q and Tro together, and Hilde and Rick. But I haven't exactly had a lot of examples of happy couples around me either, y'know?"

"But you knew you weren't in love with Hilde, right? How did you know that for sure?" Duo might not know much about what it was like to be in love with someone, but Heero was convinced his friend knew more than him. Duo at least knew for sure when he *wasn't* in love.

"Well, for one thing, I didn't desire her. I've kissed her, sure - pecks on the cheek or the forehead, even on the lips a couple of times. But I never wanted to do anything more than that. She's cute and I admire her courage. I wouldn't want anything bad to happen to her, and I'd like her to be happy. But I never wanted to make love to her.

"You can love someone as a friend, or as family, and not desire them. But I don't think you can be *in love* with someone and not have any interest in them sexually. Sexual interest *without* love - yes, that's possible. Love without sexual interest - possible. But *in love* without feeling *any* desire for the other person? I don't think so."

Duo was silent for a few moments, then added, "I don't know if that helps Heero, but the only other thing I can add is that if I had to make some sort of choice, based solely on who I cared the most about, between her and one of you guys, the other pilots, she wouldn't be the one I'd choose. I think if you're really *in love* with someone, you should love them more than anyone else you care about. I don't feel that way about Hilde."

"Aa," Heero acknowledged quietly. There was another rustle and shift of the mattress as Duo settled back down on his pillow. "Arigatou, Duo. It helps," Heero added softly. "Good night."

"G'night, Heero," Duo yawned in response.

Heero lay staring up at the ceiling. Duo might not have answered *all* his questions, but it helped. He had been pretty sure that he didn't care for Relena the way that she wanted him to. If he took what Duo had said about Hilde and applied it to himself and Relena... Then no, he wasn't in love with her. 'One more thing I need to talk to her about,' Heero thought. 'Along with the fact that I'm finally ready to accept her apology. And if she still wants to try being friends after that - well, I think I'm ready to let her try being a friend again too.'

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- tbc -