3-20-2003

Title: #57 Babysitting
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: Mar. 20, 2003
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Fluff, 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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"Take Two Salvage, Duo speaking. May I help you?"

"Oh hi, Duo. Is Hilde around?"

"No, sorry Jennie, she's off-colony visiting an old friend of hers from school. She won't be back till sometime next week."

"Damn," Jennie said. She sighed, "Oh well, guess I'm out of luck then."

"What's wrong? Anything I can do for you?" Duo offered.

"I'm supposed to be a bridesmaid in a wedding on L3 this weekend and my babysitter just called to let me know that she's come down with that darn stomach bug that's been going around and she can't keep the kids. Her own three are all sick too. I'd hoped Hilde could keep Beth and Donnie for the weekend." Jennie's voice brightened hopefully, "I don't suppose you and Heero..."

Oh shit. Watching the kids for a few hours or maybe all afternoon was one thing; keeping them for the entire weekend was a whole other story. But Jennie hardly ever got to get away and do something for herself; she was always tied down by the kids. And her absence would play havoc with her friend's wedding too. It wasn't like she could take them with her; two more return shuttle tickets even at half-fare would cost a fortune assuming that she could even *get* seats for them at this late date.

"Uh, I'll have to check with Heero, Jennie. How long would you be gone?" Duo asked.

"I'm booked on the Friday afternoon flight out and I get back Sunday afternoon," she answered.

Forty-eight hours. Two whole days. 'And two nights, which is probably even worse...' He hadn't had any really bad nightmares lately and both he and Heero *could* be around the kids quite a bit now without triggering off nightmares... But the odds of them *both* being around the kids for that long without *either* of them ending up having a bad one were awfully slim.

"Look, Jen, I'll see what Heero has planned and get back to you within the next hour, okay?"

"Sure, Duo. Thanks!"

"Don't thank me yet!" Duo warned. "Bye for now."

"Bye!"

Duo hung up the phone and slumped over the desk. "I am *such* a pushover," he grumbled. He hated to even *ask* Heero about this. Watching two young children for a whole weekend was going to be a *lot* of work. And they would both probably pay for spending *that* much time with the kids with a fresh bout of nightmares.

With a sigh, Duo dragged himself out of his chair and headed off to Heero's office.

***

"Higher! Wanna go higher!" Donnie insisted.

Duo laughed and gave the swing a slightly harder push. He knew Donnie still wouldn't be satisfied - Heero was pushing Beth's swing *much* higher and what Donnie *really* wanted was to swing as high as his sister. But there was no way he'd trust a four-year-old to hold on and stay in the seat with *that* hard of a push. Heck, this swing set *couldn't* swing as high as the one Beth was on.

"Harder, Heero! Push harder! I want to go higher!"

Duo snickered. Evidently, Beth had figured out that Heero wasn't letting her go as high as the swing set would allow. And he *wouldn't* either. Just because the girl on the swing next to her was swinging as high as the set would allow, that didn't mean Heero would let Beth do the same. Especially not since Beth had the disconcerting habit of suddenly deciding to jump in mid-swing from time to time. She'd scared the crap out of both him and Heero the first time she did it yesterday afternoon. Scraped the hell out of her knees and palms and was right back on the swing wanting to do it again. They'd had a hell of a time persuading her to let them take her into a nearby restaurant and get her scrapes cleaned up. And bandages had been firmly refused until they located some cartoon-themed ones at the drugstore. 'Kids...' Duo thought affectionately, shaking his head at the memory.

"Just five more minutes, then we should get going if we're taking them you-know-where for supper," Heero called.

Duo waved in acknowledgement. He shuddered at the thought of where they were going to be eating supper. Oh, the pizza at the place was edible - just. But the music and the guy in the mouse suit - ugh. It was one of the kids' favourite places though and Jennie had suggested taking the kids there tonight as a distraction, figuring that they'd need to get the kids good and tired and keep them from thinking too much about their missing mother if they wanted them to sleep. The first night away from home was a novelty - the second they were liable to start feeling homesick and missing their mommy.

***

Duo crawled back into bed for what had to be the tenth time that night. 'Sure as hell didn't have to worry about having nightmares tonight,' he thought tiredly. 'Not gonna get to sleep long enough for that...'

"Oh, yuck! Donnie wet the bed!" Beth yelled.

Duo groaned. Heero muttered something in Japanese and Duo suspected he should be glad he didn't quite catch whatever it was.

"My turn," Heero sighed, rolling out of bed.

"I'll get fresh bedding," Duo said, rolling back out himself. Looking at the clock, he added, "I think I might as well just *stay* up. It's five already..."

"Don't remind me," Heero moaned. "Duo, next time a friend asks for a favour, there's a little two-letter word you need to remember... It starts with an 'n' and ends with an 'o'..."

"Didn't hear *you* using it either," Duo grumbled as he headed off in search of clean sheets.

"Next time, *remind* me and I *will*..."

***

"Bye Heero, Duo! Thanks guys! I really appreciate the favour!" Jennie called from the driveway.

"Don't mention it!" Duo called back. He dodged the elbow Heero directed at his ribs. "I said not to mention it, not that we wanted to do it again..." he muttered under his breath, still smiling and waving to Jennie and the kids as their car pulled out of the driveway.

Heero just grunted in response before going back inside. Duo followed him in, pulling the door shut behind him and locking it. "How the hell do parents ever survive?" Heero wondered as he started picking up the living room.

"Maybe it's different when they're your own?" Duo shrugged. "I mean, really, the worst part was that they got homesick and fussy. They were pretty good the first day... And it *was* kind of fun..."

"Other than Beth throwing up last night because *someone* let her eat too much dessert off the sundae bar," Heero said with a pointed glare.

"And just *who* was it who gave Donnie a drink every time he asked for one so that he ended up wetting the bed?" Duo retorted, glaring back. After a moment, he started to snicker. Beth had obviously thought Heero's hair was a little too wild and could use some styling. "Uh, Heero - you might want to go take a look in the mirror..." he managed to gasp out before collapsing in laughter on the couch.

Heero stalked off towards the bathroom. A snort carried down the hall, then Heero re-entered the living room, carrying a handful of glittery butterfly clips. "Little brat," he muttered, then reached out and snagged the end of Duo's braid, holding it in front of his face. He smirked, "Busy little stinker, wasn't she?"

Duo groaned in dismay. The flourescent pink glitter gel from the toy makeup kit they'd bought Beth yesterday. Evidently *both* he and Heero must have dozed off while they were sitting watching cartoons with the kids before Jennie came to pick them up. "Guess I'd better go shower and wash it out..."

"What, you don't like your new look?" Heero asked innocently.

Duo decided not to dignify *that* question with a response. He simply snatched his braid out of Heero's hand and stuck his tongue out at Heero before stalking off to shower.

***

Duo perched on the end of the couch, carefully brushing out his hair. That damn gel had been a real bitch to get out. He'd called Jennie right away and warned her to get rid of it. The stuff had the consistency of glue. 'God, I'm tired... What a weekend...' he thought wearily. All he wanted to do was get his hair dry enough to braid and go to bed. He suspected Heero would probably head straight there once he got out of the shower.

Someone lifting the brush from his hand and sitting down on the couch behind him disproved that theory. Duo relaxed, the remaining tension from the weekend draining out of him as Heero took over the task of carefully brushing his hair dry. It felt kind of odd having Heero do that for him. Oh, it wasn't like he hadn't done it before - but never just out of the blue, for no particular reason. Before, it had always been when Duo was sick or injured or virtually asleep on his feet after a long mission. But then, lately, they'd both been doing a lot of little things that were just a bit different. Just another small change in their relationship, he guessed. 'Kind of odd... but nice...' he decided. Yep, definitely nice.

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- tbc -