3-9-2003

Title: #47 Distracted
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: Mar. 9, 2003
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Angst, Friendship
Pairing: None yet
Rated: PG
Warnings: AU, OOC, Swearing
Archives: At Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone with archive permission for my other fics can help themselves; anyone else, please ask.
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. Hilde 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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Hilde waited until Duo went out into the yard, then wasted no time in stomping into Heero's office to demand, "Alright, what the hell is going on with him?! I don't know where his mind was during our lunch meeting with that client, but it sure as hell wasn't on business!"

She hadn't called Duo to task for his absentmindedness yet; something about him was sufficiently "off" to make her leery of flat-out demanding to know what the problem was. There was definitely something wrong and it had been getting worse all week. Duo was forgetting things, zoning out during conversations, and generally just plain making mistakes all over the place.

Hilde figured Heero was her best bet of finding out what that "something wrong" was.

Heero frowned and said, "How bad was he?"

"Bad enough that I spent the whole meeting covering up for him," Hilde answered. "He forgot the client's name twice, knocked over his water glass once, and completely forgot about the bill. As far as discussion of the contract went, he was completely useless. Half the time he didn't even respond and when he *did*, it was because I'd just kicked him in the ankle and caught his attention again momentarily. I swear Ms. Honeycutt must think we're nuts! I kept having to recap the conversation every damn time I asked Duo for his input. I finally gave up and just let him zone out while I handled the whole thing! He's just not himself at all, Heero! What the hell is going on?!"

Heero's frown turned a bit darker. "It's not a question of 'where' his mind was - more a question of 'when'," he answered. "This whole business with his old neighbourhood being scheduled for demolition is just stirring up so damn many old memories..." He shook his head. "I don't think things will get much better till it's over and done with, Hilde. You'd probably better just handle client meetings yourself. And I'd probably better get out in the yard to keep an eye on him now that you're back. He's... not exactly his usual alert self."

Now *there* was the understatement of the year, Hilde thought. She didn't like seeing Duo like this. *Hadn't* seen him like this since right after the war when they first went into business together and Duo was subletting from her. The L2 government had asked a whole lot of questions about his past in the process of issuing him with official citizenship papers, birth certificate, and so on. He'd had a particularly bad bout of nightmares and had been subdued and distracted for a week or so...

"The nightmares are really bad again, aren't they?" she asked. Seeing Heero's obvious discomfort at the question, she shook her head and said, "No, never mind. I don't expect you to answer that. Just - if there's anything I can do to help, let me know, 'kay?"

"Okay," Heero agreed, his expression lightening as he gave her a small, grateful smile.

"Now run along and keep an eye on him. God forbid he run the big crane in his current absentminded state!" Hilde said with a shudder. She followed Heero out into the main office and watched him head out into the yard in search of Duo. 'Damn, I hope he lets Heero help him through this...' she thought worriedly. She knew Duo wouldn't let *her* help. He hadn't before, insisting that telling her about his nightmares and memories would just give *her* a whole bunch of new nightmares. Last time, he'd toughed his way through it on his own, letting her get up and make him hot chocolate and fuss over him a bit when she heard him prowling around but not much else. But he'd never been quite as distracted he was now. Hilde suspected Duo was in for an even tougher time than before. Talking things through with his best friend might help.

Hilde froze in the middle of turning to go back to her own office. Had she just seen what she thought she saw out of the corner of her eye? She turned and looked back out into the salvage yard. Yes, she *had* really seen what she thought she did. She shook her head slightly, a small, disbelieving smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. 'Would I have believed even six months ago that I would ever see Heero Yuy walk up to someone and just pull them into a hug? No, I wouldn't have. God, was I an idiot about Duo's friendship with him...'

With a last, lingering glance over her shoulder, Hilde started back to her office, the image of Heero pulling Duo into a firm, comforting hug right in the middle of the salvage yard keeping a faint smile on her lips despite her worry over Duo's behaviour lately. She didn't think she had much to worry about after all. 'With his best friend here to look after him, Duo may go through some rough times, but he'll come through them just fine.'