Title: #69 Ready or Not
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: Apr. 20, 2003
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Friendship, Romance Pairing: 1+2
Rated: PG
Warnings: AU, OOC, Swearing
Archives: At Lev's Lair http://www.gwaddiction.com/levlair/ and at http://calic0cat.freeservers.com/ (my site) and 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.

************ Time passing or scene change

Author's Notes: See earlier fics for notes on the arc as a whole. Feedback is appreciated.


Glancing at the flight information display, Duo made a disgusted face. Heero's shuttle was late. 'Dammit, I knew I shoulda brought a book or something with me to kill time. Fucking inter-colony shuttles are *never* on time...' He dropped down on one of the uncomfortable waiting area chairs and resigned himself to a long, dull, wait.

'Wonder how the presentation went... Heero was awfully anxious about it. I *really* hope we land that contract. Not so much for the business, but because Heero's attached so damn much importance to winning the stupid bid.' That contract had taken on a very personal significance for Heero; there was no doubt about it. Duo figured that Heero was looking to justify his new role in the company; looking to prove his worth. Not that he *needed* to; he'd already done wonders for the organization and efficiency of the office in the time he'd been working at the yard. The days of handwritten notes stuck all over the place were ancient history. Paperwork was never more than a day behind and they could locate any piece of material in minutes with a simple search of the highly customized inventory system.

The computer software that they'd been using previously was off-the-shelf stuff, bought hastily as a stopgap until Duo could get around to designing something better. Except that with all the other things on the "to-do" list, he'd never gotten around to it. And programming wasn't exactly his favourite thing anyway. He *could* do it and *hacking* was kind of fun as long as the challenge was sufficiently demanding, but database design - ugh. He hadn't exactly been in a rush to move the job to the top of the list. Heero had struggled with the existing software for nearly a month before asking Duo if he could please, *please* throw it out and use something else. Duo had shrugged and sheepishly admitted that he'd always intended to get rid of the damn program but just hadn't taken the time to write a replacement. Heero hadn't wasted any time in doing so himself. And he'd continued to tweak and improve the program ever since.

The last time Howard had been by, he'd taken one look at the program and fallen in love with it on the spot. Inventory software was generally written with suppliers of new goods in mind, not salvage people. Heero's program was probably the only one out there that *was* specifically written for salvage. Howard had eventually coaxed Heero into doing a customized version of it for the Sweepers, taking multiple bases and ships into consideration so that now any Sweeper could pull up the program and locate a part along with a complete description of its condition and value no matter where it was in their network of bases on Earth and in the colonies. It wasn't the kind of thing that there would ever be much *demand* for, certainly not the kind of thing a large software publisher would ever be interested in, but Duo figured word would continue to spread through the salvage community and other businesses with similar needs. Heero would probably be doing customized versions of that software for a long time to come.

But to Heero, everything he'd done prior to becoming a partner didn't count. Duo knew that. For whatever reason, Heero needed to prove himself by getting this contract. He just hoped Heero wouldn't take it too personally if they didn't. They were going up against much larger firms on this one, firms that had big names in the salvage business.

Firms that had experienced negotiators who did nothing else *but* bid presentations and contract negotiations. Duo had gone up against some of them a few times before and he hadn't always come out the winner. But despite his inexperience, Heero had the ability to come across as calm, cool, and collected no matter how nervous he might be. And that was always a major factor in negotiations. There was a delicate balance between appearing too desperate for the job and insufficiently motivated. Duo was pretty sure Heero could project the right attitude to strike that balance no matter how badly he wanted the contract.

The hard part was going to be waiting to find out whether they *did* get the contract or not. It would be at least a week, possibly up to a month, before Tanaka announced the results of the tender. Heero was going to be tense as hell waiting for that announcement.

'Oh well, I'll just have to think up some ways to distract him,' Duo decided with a smirk. He'd have to make sure they had plenty of ice cream on hand. His smirk widened at the thought.

They'd been having a lot of fun surprising each other with mischievous excuses to kiss or cuddle, but the reigning favourite was still ice cream. Duo just wondered when they were going to get comfortable enough with the whole thing to at least tell the guys or maybe go on an actual date. He didn't expect either of them to ever be comfortable with too much in the way of public displays of affection but a little discreet handholding would be kind of nice.

Hearing the announcement that Heero's flight was now disembarking, Duo stood and stretched leisurely before strolling towards the arrivals gate. Heero had only been gone since yesterday but it would be nice to have him back home. He'd missed their little morning ritual today. And the office had been awfully quiet and empty with Hilde and Rick still away on their honeymoon and Heero gone as well.

He couldn't help grinning broadly as Heero left customs behind and approached. "Hey buddy, glad to see you made it through in one piece!" he teased. "Don't see any sword wounds, so I guess you must've managed not to insult Mr. Traditional Tanaka too badly..."

Heero snickered and swatted him across the back of the head. "Baka."

Duo laughed and hugged Heero. "Welcome home, Heero." He started to pull away, but was surprised when Heero didn't let go. "Heero?"

"What, no welcome home kiss?" Heero asked very softly and hesitantly.

Duo froze. Oh shit. Was he ready for this? Was *Heero* really ready for this? Well, Heero *had* made the request... The question was whether he could make himself fulfill it... "Uh sure, if you want one..."

Heero nodded very slightly.

'Lots of people kiss in shuttleports. It's a perfectly normal thing to do,' Duo reminded himself. Perfectly normal, yeah. But geesh, couldn't Heero have started off with something easy like holding hands in public? 'It's just a kiss, Maxwell. Now *do* it!'

Quickly, before he lost his nerve, Duo leaned forward and pressed a quick, light kiss to Heero's lips. 'See, that wasn't so bad now was it? The whole place didn't grind to a standstill while everybody stared and pointed...'

In fact, he didn't think anybody had even taken notice of the two of them. But he still wasn't comfortable. Even though he *knew* people weren't watching them, Duo felt conspicuous. Very conspicuous. 'I shouldn't have done that,' he thought uncomfortably. 'I wasn't ready.'

But Heero had been. And Duo hadn't wanted to disappoint him.

'But I wish I hadn't done that.'


- tbc -