2-12-2003

Title: #40 A Pretty Cool Guy
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Domestic, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: PG 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: See earlier fics for notes on the arc as a whole. Feedback is appreciated.

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Heero sat back in his chair and relaxed, listening to the lively conversation going on between Howard and Hilde while he watched the dancers. He had already suffered through his obligatory dance for the night. Kendra was just as insistent about dragging him out for a dance as she was about doing so with everyone else at the table, up to and including Howard. He was just glad to get that one dance over with so that he could enjoy the rest of the evening.

"So, what do *you* think, Heero? You agree with *me*, don't you boy?" Howard demanded, nudging Heero in the ribs.

Heero raised one eyebrow in response and told him, "*I* think I have to work with *her*," he indicated Hilde, "and so I'm staying *out* of this debate."

Hilde clapped the back of one hand to her forehead dramatically, proclaiming, "Ah! The world is coming to an end! Heero Yuy has just displayed an understanding of the word 'tact'!"

"Ha, ha, ha," Heero deadpanned. "This coming from the woman who asked a potential client whether he had to ask his board of directors for permission to piss..."

Hilde reddened and said defensively, "Well, that was the *fifth time* in as many minutes that he'd said 'I'll have to check with my board of directors and get back to you' and those were all details he was *supposed* to have already ironed out..."

Howard guffawed and slapped Heero on the back. "Got her that time, m'boy!"

Hilde "hmphed" and stuck her tongue out at Heero in retaliation.

He smirked back before returning his gaze to the dance floor. Almost immediately, his gaze was drawn to Duo, dancing with the same easy grace that had characterized him throughout the war. 'I don't know how he does it. Moving that easily with so many people watching. Being on the dance floor just makes me feel conspicuous and foolish. But I enjoy watching other people dance.'

Heero's attention was pulled back to the table as Hilde cajoled Rick into agreeing to dance. Not that it took much coaxing. It was rare to see Rick dance with anyone else and he *never* took to the floor alone, but he was always willing to dance with Hilde.

"Feelin' more comfortable in your own skin now, eh boy?" Howard observed in a low voice.

Heero gave him a startled look, then nodded slowly. Howard always had been very observant, it really wasn't particularly surprising that he had noticed the changes in Heero.

Howard leaned back in his chair with a satisfied sigh. "Thought so as soon as I saw you come in tonight. The clothes you've been wearin' to come here practically had 'Duo' written all over'em. Tonight - tonight, you're you. Heero." Leaning towards Heero, he said conspiratorially, "And you know what? Heero's a pretty cool guy too."

Although a bit taken aback by just how much Howard's words meant to him, Heero gave him a fleeting but true smile as he said, "Arigatou, Howard."

Howard gave a dismissive wave, saying, "Ah, pish-posh, nothin' to thank me for, boy. Just tellin' the truth."

As his gaze returned to the dance floor, once again unerringly locating Duo before continuing on to observe other dancers as well, Heero repeated Howard's comment to himself, feeling the same warm glow again at the memory of it. 'Heero's a pretty cool guy too.' A pretty cool guy. He could live with that.

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- tbc -