3-21-2003

Title: #58 Family
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: Mar. 19, 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. 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, there's no way we've got a snowball's chance in hell of landing that contract," Duo protested. "Tanaka won't even *consider* doing business in anything other than Japanese and he's reputed to be absolutely one hundred percent intolerant of any trace of an accent. Mine's *awful* and I know it! And *your* Japanese is barely up to placing an order at a restaurant!"

Hilde pivoted her chair to look out the window. "Heero could do it," she remarked, watching the man in question as he inventoried the latest truckload of scrap.

"What?!"

"His Japanese is perfect. Tanaka couldn't possibly find anything to complain about," she pointed out calmly.

"Well, yeah, but you know as well as I do what Tanaka's *other* requirement is..."

"So we let Heero buy into the business," Hilde shrugged matter-of-factly. Turning her chair to face Duo again, she reached out and pushed his jaw shut. "Stop catching flies, Duo. We have bug zappers for that."

Duo sputtered wordlessly before managing to choke out, "Are you fucking *serious* Hil? I know you guys have become friends now, but..."

Hilde nodded. "Rick and I discussed this. Once he and I are married and he comes to work here full-time, we'll be prepared to expand. Rick suggested that he buy in with his savings and that we offer Heero the same deal. *If*, that is, you're planning to stick around... You haven't talked about selling out for months now..." 'Since not too long after Heero moved in, actually,' Hilde thought. Duo had been getting very restless before that. Not quite unhappy, but definitely discontented. But not anymore. 'Now, he seems more... well, settled, I guess. Happier and more content.'

"Well, Heero and I *had* talked about going into the restoration business together..."

"There's no real reason you couldn't do that part-time and keep working here too," Hilde pointed out. "You could even clear out one of those old sheds full of god-only-knows-what that's been there since my *grandfather* ran the place and turn it into a workshop for that kind of thing."

"I'll have to talk it over with Heero," Duo said, still looking and sounding rather stunned. "I don't really know what he'll think of the idea..."

"Buying in or handling the bid to get Tanaka's business?" Hilde asked.

"Both..." Duo shook his head in disbelief. Leaning forward in his chair, he rested his arms on Hilde's desk and demanded, "How the hell did you get from not wanting him to work here to wanting him to handle a major bid *and* wanting him to buy into the place?"

Hilde smiled and told him, "I finally opened my eyes and saw what *you* saw in him all along. That he's loyal and hard-working and makes a great friend. That all he ever really needed was a fair chance and a helping hand from his best friend." She reached out and ruffled Duo's bangs affectionately, "Something you're rather good at, brat."

The salvage yard would never have survived without Duo's help. Not just the cash infusion he brought with him, but the never-say-die determination that had dragged her along when she was ready to give up. The never-ending optimism that let him always find a way to make *something* positive out of even the biggest disasters. She hated the thought of Duo selling out and leaving. And after having Heero here this long, she hated the thought of him leaving the yard too.

All of them were family. The only family any of them had. Even when she married Rick, her family wouldn't grow by much - just his sister and her kids. She shrugged and told Duo, "The salvage yard has always been a family business. And you're family. Both of you. Rick and I would really like you both to be a permanent part of the business."

As Duo leaned back again, quite possibly looking even more stunned than before, Hilde grinned and added, "And don't think you can get out of the family by getting out of the business, brother dear! You're stuck with *me* for life either way!"

Duo choked on a laugh and pretended to cringe. "Oh no, a fate worse than death!" he wailed dramatically.

"Oh go on, get out of here so I can get some work done!" Hilde ordered, wadding up a piece of paper and throwing it at him.

Duo stuck his tongue out at her before taking off.

"I saw that, you brat!" she yelled after him. She leaned back in her chair, satisfied that that had gone quite well. She hoped that Heero would accept both offers - buying into the business *and* handling the Tanaka bid.

Swivelling her chair to face the window, she watched as Duo joined Heero in the yard. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder as Heero pointed something out to Duo. 'Probably another junker for them to restore,' she thought. They certainly didn't have anything left to do to Heero's gorgeous car. She sat and watched them for a few minutes, shaking her head indulgently as the two of them scrambled up a pile to examine what did indeed look like it might have been a pickup truck once upon a time. Her two "brothers".

With a wry grin, she thought, 'More like brother and brother-in-law, whether they've figured that out yet or not...' She didn't think Duo had quite caught that particular implication in her wording. That Heero was to him what Rick was to her. But anyone who spent as much time around the two of them and knew them as well as she did couldn't help but realize that their relationship was far deeper than even the very best of friends. That it was changing, shifting into something else, whether they were aware of it yet or not.

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- tbc -