3-3-2003

Title: #43 What Best Friends Are For
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Angst, 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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The mattress creaked and shifted slightly. Heero waited a few minutes while Duo left the room, then rolled onto his side and checked the clock. Same time as last night. Damn.

For the past few nights, they had gone to bed at the usual time. An hour or two later, Duo would get up and vanish off downstairs to spend most of the night sitting at the kitchen table nursing a mug of hot chocolate, only to return to bed for a couple of hours of restless sleep before it was time to get up for work.

Heero flopped onto his back and sighed. He wasn't quite sure what to do. This had been going on ever since Duo had received that damn request from the L2 government. He had readily agreed to act as backup for Duo since his best friend felt obligated to take on the - well, he hated to call it a "mission" because it Duo's reasons for doing it were on a much more personal level, but there really wasn't a better term for it either.

But Duo hadn't actually *agreed* to do it yet. Not officially. He was too torn over the entire situation. And with good reason. There was something distinctly disturbing about the notion of sweeping through the area and driving its inhabitants out, like hunters flushing wild game out of a forest. Yet the reasons *behind* the sweep were predominantly good ones.

'Why can't anything ever be black and white?' Heero thought wearily. 'Why are we forever doomed to choose between indistinct shades of grey?'

He lay there staring at the ceiling. There had to be something that he could do to help Duo reach a decision that he would be at least reasonably comfortable with.

Regardless of *what* Duo decided to do, whether they helped with the sweep or not, it *would* happen and the neighbourhood *would* be demolished. That was a foregone conclusion. Duo was also well aware that he was the most qualified person available to actually *find* the many hiding places that could conceal someone until it was too late and the building was collapsing around them.

And it wasn't as if anyone in the area would have a legal claim to their current hiding place. L2 had paid off the legal landowners months ago. Those people remaining were either homeless or members of gangs that were mixed up in various forms of organized crime. The Preventers would take care of the *known* gangs ahead of time; any remaining ones would fall to the mixed teams of local law enforcement, volunteers, and mere handful of Preventers agents that performed the secondary sweep. His and Duo's skills could be very useful to those teams. Another argument in favour of taking part.

Really, the major issue here - other than the memories this whole mess would undoubtedly stir up for Duo, Heero thought with a sympathetic wince - was the whole "chasing out the inhabitants" bit. So maybe the real question was what was planned for those displaced individuals?

A frown creased Heero's brow as he realized that he couldn't recall *that* detail being mentioned. Rolling out of bed, he headed downstairs.

As Heero padded barefoot into the kitchen, Duo looked up from the mug he was twisting in his hands. "Aw shit, Heero. Did I wake you up? Sorry..."

Heero put the kettle on to boil before answering, "Don't worry about it. Need to talk?" He pulled a glass teapot out of the cupboard and started measuring herbs into it. 'He needs to relax. More caffeine, even just a small amount, in the form of hot chocolate is *not* the way to do that.'

Duo sighed and set his mug down. Planting one elbow on the table, he propped his cheek against his hand wearily. "Nothin' new to say. The situation *sucks*, that's all there is to it. If I *don't* do it, people may die because the searchers missed some hiding spots that *I* would have found. If I *do* do it..." He shrugged unhappily. "A condemned building may not be much of a home, but it's all the home these people have *got*. Sure, it's dangerous, but it's still better than nothing. Helping take even that away from them..." Duo sighed again.

Heero picked up the whistling kettle and poured the now boiling water into the teapot before covering it tightly. Snagging Duo's half-empty mug of now-cold "hot" chocolate, Heero dumped it out and rinsed the mug thoroughly. "What exactly does the government plan to do with the people they flush out of the area?" he asked.

"Huh?" Duo said, obviously having been lost in thought.

Patiently, Heero repeated, "What does the government plan to do with the people from the area?"

Giving Heero a startled look, Duo said, "Escort them to the border of the demolition zone and let'em do whatever they want, I guess."

"You guess? Didn't they say what they had planned?"

Duo shook his head, brow wrinkling in thought. "No... I just figured they'd just send'em on their way, same as used to happen to us street rats..."

Heero turned back to the steeping tea to filter out the herbs. He filled two mugs before moving back to the table.

"Oh - thanks," Duo said, accepting the offered mug. He took a sip, then made a slight face. "Should have known you wouldn't give me a fresh hot chocolate." After another cautious sip, he said, "Not bad. What's in here this time?"

"Mint, lavender, passionflower, valerian, lemon balm, and skullcap," Heero answered promptly.

Duo shook his head and grinned wryly. "You're bound and determined to make me relax and get some sleep, aren't you?"

Heero didn't bother answering that question, taking a sip of his own tea instead.

After a few minutes, Duo asked, "You think they've got other plans for whoever they flush out?"

"I don't know. But they *should* have. The kids at least should be taken care of; the war isn't an excuse anymore."

Duo sat back and stretched his legs out under the table. "Never thought of that..." he muttered before taking another sip of his tea.

"You're too close to it," Heero shrugged. "Too many memories in the way."

"Guess I've got a few questions to ask..."

Heero gave Duo a pointed look and nudged his ankle under the table. "*We've* got a few questions to ask, you mean."

Duo chuckled and agreed, "*We've* got a few questions to ask." He finished off his drink and rose to rinse out his mug. "Done?" he asked, holding out a hand.

Heero took one last swallow, then handed Duo the mug to rinse. He waited while Duo finished tidying up, then followed him back upstairs, turning lights out as they went.

They had both settled back down in bed and Heero was just starting to drift off to sleep when Duo said quietly, "Thanks, Heero."

Heero smiled slightly, despite the fact that Duo wouldn't be able to see him in the dark, and answered, "You're welcome, Duo. That's what best friends are for, or so someone keeps telling me..."

He could hear the grin in Duo's voice as the answer came back, "So they are, Heero. So they are..."

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- tbc -