3-18-2003

Title: #55 Making Calls
Arc: Life With Heero Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: Mar. 18, 2003
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, 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. Duo 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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"Thanks Zechs. I really appreciate it, and Duo will too," Heero said.

Before he could say goodbye, Zechs interrupted, "Just a minute, Heero. Une happened to stop by my office and she wants to talk to you if you've got a minute."

"Sure," Heero responded, brow wrinkling in puzzlement. He wondered what on earth Une would want to talk to him about. He hadn't even seen her since before he quit bodyguarding Relena and it had been even longer since he'd last spoken to her.

"Hello, Mr. Yuy," Une said. Surveying her image on the vidphone, Heero decided that she hadn't changed much since he'd last seen her. She looked just as professional and efficient as ever. "I've been intending to contact you for the past week," she continued. "Several of the Preventers that took part in the operation on L2 last week were very impressed with the way that you handled yourself. They commented that you seemed to have retained your old skills yet had also learned to be a team player. They remarked that you were now quite pleasant to work with, in fact."

Heero quirked an eyebrow, wondering where this was leading. He had rather enjoyed shocking the hell out of the Preventers agents assigned to work with his team during the sweep of Duo's old neighbourhood. They happened to be ones that he had worked with a few times back when he was with the Preventers. They just couldn't seem to adjust to the fact that he was perfectly polite and downright diplomatic when making suggestions. That he carried on casual conversation with those around him. And they seemed to find the friendly interaction between himself and Duo particularly startling. "I'm flattered that they were sufficiently impressed to bring it to your attention, Chief Une," Heero answered drily.

Une's mouth quirked slightly. "And I believe that you have just proved their point," she said. "Polite sarcasm was never your style before. At one time, you would have simply stated that their opinion of you was irrelevant as long as you completed the mission."

"Touche," Heero answered with an internal wince. Sometimes he found reminders of how he used to speak and act a bit - disconcerting. Duo was allowed to joke about it but he didn't particularly like anyone else to remind him. "Might I ask precisely what the purpose of this conversation is?" he requested politely. "I have a number of other calls to make..." Heero glanced at his watch pointedly.

That slight quirk of Une's mouth turned into a full-fledged smile. "Yes, you may. I believe that you have heard from Merquise and Chang that things have changed a bit around here. The command structure has been - streamlined - somewhat, largely thanks to union contracts. At any rate, I have more control over the organization, particularly over field operatives."

Heero's heart rate increased slightly. He had a sudden suspicion what Une was about to say.

"Based on the reports I've heard regarding your changes in behaviour, I believe that you would have no problem fitting into the organization now," Une continued. "I am prepared to offer you a position in the Preventers, starting with the same rank as that held by Chang." She added, "And should Maxwell wish to come onboard as your partner, the same would apply to him. The agents reported that the two of you worked extremely well together."

For an instant, Heero's heart leapt with excitement. Leapt at the chance to be back in action again... Back in the front lines, defending peace...

'Back living on the edge. Back getting shot at. Back shooting and inevitably killing,' his mind retorted. And while Une had said Duo would be welcome too... Heero didn't think Duo would want to join. And he realized that he wasn't too sure that *he* wanted to. He *definitely* didn't want to if Duo didn't. And wasn't exactly thrilled at the thought even if Duo did.

Though a small part of Heero still loved the thrill of danger, the rest of him had learned to enjoy *normal*. To enjoy working eight hour days most of the time, with occasional spates of longer or shorter ones, depending on how busy the yard was. And if sometimes those days got incredibly boring, they were always balanced out by an unexpected visit from Jennie and her kids. Or a game of one-on-one in front of the office with Duo. Or Hilde suddenly declaring that they were closing early and dragging them off to a movie or bowling or mini-golf or something else totally unexpected.

Heero shook his head and told Une, "I'll mention it to Duo, but I can guess at his answer. It'll be the same as mine. Thank you, but no thanks. I'm happy here, working with Duo at the salvage yard. If you ever really, desperately, *need* my particular skills for some reason - ask. Otherwise..." Heero shrugged, "I like my life the way it is."

Heero hid a smirk at the sight of a totally flabbergasted Une. He wished he had a recording of the expression on her face. The look of shock didn't last, however. Une's face softened and she gave him an understanding smile. "I'm glad, Heero," she said. "I'm sorry I won't get the chance to have you working for me now, but I'm glad that you've found your place in life." She added, "And sign me up for that project of yours too. And Mariemaia as well." Her face turned more serious as she said, "It might do the two of us some good too."

"I will," Heero agreed. "Zechs has all the details."

"I'll get them from him, then. Thank you, Heero. See you in a couple of weeks!"

Heero hung up the vidphone and shook his head in disbelief. That call had definitely gone rather differently than planned. Longer, too. And he still had a lot more calls to make. Heero sighed and started to dial the next number.

***

That was the last call. Heero sighed in satisfaction as he hung up the vidphone. Everything was lined up now. He just hoped that this would help Duo finally put to rest his guilt over having not only survived L2's slums but having *escaped* them.

'He had been doing so much better until the actual sweep to get the last people out of the neighbourhood before the wrecking equipment moved in,' Heero thought. Duo had only had a couple of nightmares between the day they'd visited his old neighbourhood and the day of the sweep. But the events that happened during the sweep had reminded him once again how fortunate he had been compared to many others. And the guilt and nightmares had flared up all over again.

Heero was just grateful that their search team had only run into a couple of young runaways who were more than ready to go back home again after a week in the deserted neighbourhood and a small-time drug operation trying to harvest one last crop before clearing out its hydroponics setup and lab. Other teams hadn't been so lucky.

One team was in quarantine after breaking down a door that was locked from the inside only to find a room full of long-dead bodies, presumed to be victims at some past date of one of the many virus outbreaks that periodically swept through L2's slums. Testing was still being done on the bodies and the team that discovered them was being kept in strict isolation until a group of Earth Sphere disease specialists could determine that there was no risk.

Another team had discovered a small gang of street kids, most too weak from starvation and dehydration to walk. They had stayed too long after the majority of people had left the neighbourhood and there hadn't been anything left to steal for survival. By the time they'd become desperate enough to leave, several had been unable to do so and the others had been unwilling to leave them behind. Those capable of getting around were too frightened and suspicious of the authorities to go get help. And so they had all ended up very weak and ill. It would be weeks before they were healthy enough for the trip to the orphanage on Earth.

Heero would be eternally grateful that Duo had not been with either of those teams. Merely finding out about their discoveries had been hard enough on him; actually being present would have been devastating.

His idea would, he hoped, help Duo deal with at least some of his feelings of guilt. This time, the guilt and nightmares had more to do with his time on the streets than that at the church. More to do with having survived the streets and finding the opportunity to build a better life outside the slums. With having a home and a job and all those things that made up "normal" life.

Helping street people from his old neighbourhood build homes just might help assuage that guilt. Especially if a whole bunch of friends showed their support by pitching in and helping.

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- tbc -