3-29-2004

Title: #91 - Lunch with Duo
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: March 27, 2004
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Friendship, Romance
Pairing: 1x2, OCxH
Rated: PG
Warnings: 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. Anyone with archive permission for my other fics can help themselves.
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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"Yeah, the fifteenth should be fine," Hilde confirmed, marking the date in her dayplanner then adding it in her electronic organizer as well. "You figure a ten-person team for the initial work, right?"

As Heero's reply issued from the speakerphone on her desk - no point making expensive video calls when plain old voice-only was sufficient for the task - Hilde flicked a questioning glance towards her doorway. Duo's appointment with one of their suppliers had been cancelled so he was actually in the office for Heero's call this morning. He'd missed it every previous day; today he'd come to hover just inside her office door right after the call came in. Raising one eyebrow in inquiry, Hilde gestured towards the phone. Duo shook his head slightly but stayed there through the rest of the conversation. 'Huh. Figured he wanted to talk to Heero but apparently not... Guess he just wanted to listen in...'

As the call wrapped up without Duo contributing so much as a word, Hilde wondered , 'What the hell is going on with those two?' She could understand Heero not mentioning Duo; he was focussed on work right now and he didn't know that Duo was listening in. And presumably the two of them were staying in touch on their own personal time. But Duo's failure to so much as sneak in a quick, "Hey buddy, how's it going," was distinctly puzzling. 'Duo's been pretty quiet and a little bit on the moody side all week... I thought he was just missing Heero but maybe there's actually something wrong...'

Confused and a bit concerned, Hilde interrupted Heero's farewell. "Oh, hey Heero, Duo's meeting got cancelled this morning so he's actually in the office. You want to say hi?"

The connection went silent for a few moments. "No, that's not necessary. He's picking me up at the shuttleport tomorrow; I'll see him soon enough," Heero replied flatly.

Duo's lips thinned and he snorted faintly in what Hilde suspected was annoyance if not outright derision. He pivoted sharply on his heel and stalked off. Hilde winced as she heard the door leading out into the salvage yard slam open and bounce off the wall.

"Uh, okay, Heero... If you're absolutely *sure* that you don't need to talk to him..." she said carefully. Something was obviously *very* wrong here but she wasn't about to start meddling when she had no clue what the fuck was going on. She knew damn well that Heero wouldn't take too kindly to her interference in his friendship with Duo and Duo would tell her to butt the hell out in no uncertain terms if she got on Heero's case about whatever was wrong. Her friendship with the two of them would buy her some leeway but not enough to take the direct approach with Heero.

There was a brief pause before Heero answered, "Yes." With slightly more conviction, he added, "I'm sure."

'If you're so sure, why do you sound like you're trying to convince yourself as much as me?' Hilde thought, even more convinced that there was a genuine problem. Out loud, she merely said, "Okay then. Call if there's any changes in the scheduling; otherwise I think we're set. Bye for now."

"Goodbye, Hilde." The call disconnected immediately.

Hilde swivelled her chair to gaze out the window. She could see Duo sorting through a pile of parts, tossing them into the appropriate bins with rather more force than strictly necessary. Other workers were giving him a very wide berth. Sighing, Hilde pinched the bridge of her nose and considered her options. Duo was in a *very* bad mood by the look of things. She was going to have to be careful what she said or he'd just end up pissed off at her too. 'Time for a little cautious investigation,' she decided. 'Just as soon as he cools off a little, that is...'

She'd let Duo work off his mood till lunchtime, then she'd drag him home with her for lunch. A quiet word with Rick between now and then would ensure that he'd busy himself elsewhere; her chances of getting Duo to talk about whatever was bothering him would be far better if there was no third party involved.

***

Hilde divided the soup between two bowls and carried them over to the table just as Duo finished assembling their sandwiches. She set one bowl in front of him before taking a seat. He slid a plate across to her without saying a word. "Thanks for fixing the sandwiches," Hilde offered.

No response. Duo just mechanically nibbled at the food in front of him, eyes fixed on the table.

Hilde cleared her throat loudly and nudged Duo's ankle sharply under the table. He looked up briefly. "*Thanks*," she repeated, giving the soup that he was listlessly stirring a pointed look.

"Oh, uh, yeah. You're welcome. Thanks for inviting me," he replied automatically.

"You're welcome." Silence fell again. Hilde ate half of her sandwich and watched as Duo toyed with his food. 'Okay, this is *not* normal Duo-behaviour. Soup and sandwiches are comfort food for him and he's barely eaten anything. So, the question isn't whether there's really something wrong or not, the question is *what* is wrong...' "Bet Heero'll be glad to get home and have a home-cooked meal; living on restaurant food gets old in a hurry."

Duo shrugged slightly. "I guess."

Okay, that didn't get much of a response. Hilde tried again, "I'm sure you guys have plans for tomorrow night but maybe we can all get together and go to Arnold's for a while on Saturday; I think Howard's bunch are scheduled to be on-colony this weekend."

Duo shrugged again. "Maybe." He took another small bite of his sandwich. Hilde suspected that he was only eating at all because it gave him an excuse not to talk.

'Okay, he's not exactly cooperating here. Guess I'll have to push a little harder...' "On the other hand, after a week apart, you guys probably won't even leave the house all weekend..." Hilde observed in a knowing tone.

*That* got a reaction. Duo's chair scraped loudly as he stood. "Thanks for lunch; guess I wasn't very hungry. I'll just head back; lots to do this afternoon." He was halfway out the door by the time he finished speaking, leaving Hilde staring in confusion at his virtually untouched lunch.

"What? Duo, wait..." Too late. The door banged shut in the wake of Duo's hasty exit. Hilde dropped her half-eaten sandwich back onto her plate, her own appetite suddenly gone. 'Well, *shit*. That sure didn't go as planned...' Did she dare try again? Reluctantly, she decided that she'd better not. At least, not yet. 'Heero's back tomorrow so I'll give it till Monday. Hopefully, the two of them will work out whatever the hell the problem is and Duo'll be back to normal by then. If not...'

Well, if not, then she'd have to take another shot at finding out what was wrong. And hope that she didn't just end up pissing off both Duo and Heero.