4-23-2004

Title: #93 - Reopening Communications - Part 2
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: April 16, 2004
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Friendship, Romance
Pairing: 1x2
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. Heero 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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"I'm sorry..." Heero murmured miserably. Seeing Duo lose his cool despite an obvious effort to stay calm and rational had quite abruptly reminded him that he wasn't the only one disappointed last weekend. The apparent ease with which Duo had given him the space that he'd made it clear he wanted had evidently been quite misleading. Discovering that Duo had spent the past week being just as miserable as he had made Heero feel extremely guilty.

Guilty and worried. Duo's lack of response and utter stillness within his loose embrace did not bode well for his apology's acceptance. And Heero really couldn't blame him. 'I *knew* that Duo would expect me to call. Knew that he was leaving the next move up to me, that he couldn't really do anything else after telling me that I was in control...

'By running out on him like that, leaving him to make my excuses to our guests, I'd made it pretty damn clear that I wanted - needed - space and time to myself. Duo's always been good about honouring my privacy when I *really* needed it; I knew damn well that he wouldn't pressure me and I took advantage of that...

'I just didn't know how to handle what had happened... How to deal with the disappointing end to the weekend's so-promising beginning...' It wasn't much of an explanation but it was the only one he had. Hesitantly, Heero began, "I really didn't know what to say, Duo. I just couldn't get past the thought of talking about Saturday. It never occurred to me that I didn't have to deal with that. That I could just call to talk as friends...

"So I waited and hoped that I'd find some way to talk about what had happened. But the longer I waited, the harder it was to just pick up the phone and call. Finally, I decided that it would be easier in person..." He swallowed hard and repeated, "I'm sorry..."

He'd waited thinking that it would be easier in person - but it *wasn't*. They'd both spent an utterly miserable week and while Heero didn't think that talking would have made everything better, he acknowledged that Duo was right. The week probably wouldn't have been quite as bad if they'd faced it together, as best friends if nothing else.

Duo was still silent and motionless within the circle of his arms. Unhappily, Heero offered again, "I'm sorry..." and reluctantly began to pull away. Duo's hands caught his arms before they could slip away entirely and Heero's breath escaped in a relieved gasp as Duo leaned back against him.

"Just - try not to do it again. Okay?" The words were accompanied by a rather strained, lopsided grin.

Heero's arms tightened convulsively with relief, pulling Duo tightly against him. He turned his head to press his cheek against Duo's and whispered a fervent, "Okay," in Duo's ear.

Somehow, Duo managed to twist around within Heero's tight embrace. He pressed his lips lightly to Heero's in a kiss of reassurance before echoing, "Okay."

Duo laid his head against Heero's shoulder and wrapped his arms around him. Heero closed his eyes, resting his own head on Duo's shoulder and just concentrating on the feeling of their embrace. It wasn't completely comfortable and relaxed but it still felt good.

***

Heero couldn't help jumping slightly when the doorbell rang. Hurriedly, he finished changing out of his working attire. 'It's just the pizza,' he reminded himself. 'Which was *your* bright idea, Yuy...' He hadn't wanted to go out to eat tonight and neither he nor Duo had been in the mood for cooking. But dragging on a T-shirt while rushing downstairs to answer the door reminded him all-too-sharply of the last time he'd done so and Heero found himself half expecting to see Quatre and Trowa standing outside rather than the delivery girl from the local pizzeria.

Yanking the door open just as the doorbell rang *again*, Heero scowled at the impatient teenager. He dropped the money into her outstretched hand before she even had a chance to speak, snatched the pizza box from her grasp, stepped back inside and shut the door forcefully, sliding the deadbolt in place with a startlingly loud snick.

"I hope you tipped generously, buddy, or we'll never get Luciano's to deliver here again," Duo remarked drily from behind him.

Chagrined, Heero ducked his head slightly as he turned around, avoiding meeting Duo's eyes. "She didn't need to keep ringing the bell like that," he grumbled defensively, knowing damn well that he'd overreacted. He started towards the kitchen, pizza box in hand, only to stop in his tracks as Duo threw a casual arm over his shoulders. Duo didn't say a word, just squeezed firmly in one of those half-hugs that had been part of their friendship since the very beginning. The warm pressure against his back prodded Heero into motion again and he regretted its loss a few moments later as Duo dropped behind him to pass through the narrow doorway.

Heero set the box on the kitchen table, noting that Duo had already set out paper towels and cans of pop for them both. They sat down on opposite sides of the small table, the silence not entirely comfortable but still better than during the ride home from the shuttleport. Heero stole surreptitious glances at Duo, uncertain of the next move. Duo had made it clear that it was up to him - he just didn't know what "it" should be. The atmosphere between them remained too awkward and strained to simply pick up where they'd been forced to leave off last weekend.

Finally, Heero ventured softly, "I'm sorry. I still don't know what to say about last Saturday..." He forced himself to look up despite the urge to avoid Duo's gaze.

Duo gave a huff of wry amusement. "Heero, maybe there isn't anything *to* say. A thoroughly lousy case of excruciatingly bad timing on Q's part messed up our plans and totally destroyed the mood. Not your fault, not my fault. It just - happened. End of story.

"As for the rest of the week, you've already apologized for that and promised to try not to shut me out like that again. Good enough. I don't expect you to get all verbose and talk the whole thing to death, okay? That's just not *you*. I *know* that. Best friends, remember?"

The lopsided grin that Duo gave Heero was a little subdued but genuine. Heero's own mouth quirked in response, realizing that Duo really wasn't going to insist on discussing things any further. "Best friends," he acknowledged gratefully.

Duo's grin brightened for an instant before he observed, "Pizza's gonna get cold and I'm hungry." He ordered sternly, "Less talk, more eat."

Heero gave a snicker, relieved by the sudden shift in the mood. Abruptly discovering that he really *was* hungry, he reached for another slice, accidentally bumping hands with Duo. Duo swatted his hand playfully, protesting, "Hey, that's *my* slice, buster! Get your own!" Heero held up his hands in mock surrender, yielding the wedge of pizza. Until impulse struck and, without giving himself time to reconsider, he caught hold of Duo's wrist, leaned across the table, and stole a bite off the end of the slice.

They both froze, Heero nearly as startled by his own actions as Duo apparently was. Carefully, he released his grip on Duo's arm and sank back into his chair, his eyes locked with Duo's wide-eyed, questioning gaze. 'He's not sure whether that was just a little best-friend joking around or if I'm flirting. Hell, *I'm* not sure which it is either...' They were a long way from recapturing last weekend's mood. But flirting would be a start. A good start.

Decision made, Heero swallowed the bite of pizza before saying, "*Our* slice." He moved his chair closer to the table and slid his feet to bracket one of Duo's - just as Duo had done with his during their first date.

Duo smiled softly. "Okay. Our slice." He took a bite from the slice in question himself before reaching across to offer it to Heero again. Heero leaned forward to meet him halfway. It was a start. A small start - but a good one.

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