5-28-2004

Title: #94 Communications Restored - Part 1
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: May 25, 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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"Try it now."

Heero opened the truck door and slid inside. The motor turned over reluctantly when he twisted the key in the ignition. He could hear Duo muttering, "Come on, come on..." as the engine struggled. Shaking his head, Heero switched the truck off again.

"It's something in the fuel system." Heero climbed out of the pickup and shoved the door closed again. "Has to be. We've rebuilt everything else and we've still got the same problem."

"I bet it's the damn pump. Shoulda had the old one rebuilt instead of buying a reproduction..." Duo sighed and glared at the engine. "Fuck. Now we're gonna have to take the whole damn thing apart *again*..."

Heero groaned at the thought. This would make the third time that they'd had to pull the engine and strip it. "Not today," he decided, starting to pick up the tools scattered around the area. They'd spent all morning and most of the afternoon in the garage, working on the classic pickup truck that was their latest restoration project. It had been a good idea; spending the day with their focus so firmly fixed on something unrelated to their relationship had allowed the familiar camaraderie to return. They were comfortable with each other again, at ease in their friendship. 'Not quite back where we were before our guests arrived last weekend but almost...'

"Howard and some of the guys are supposed to be at Arnold's tonight. We could get cleaned up and head over there, if you want?" Duo suggested.

"I guess we could..." Heero hesitated, uncertain whether to suggest an alternative or not. Maybe Duo really wanted to meet up with the others. 'But then again, that's the sort of thing that we've been doing as friends... So it's "fair game" for him to suggest while the alternative I have in mind wouldn't be...' Along with the mild flirting they'd engaged in last night, they *had* done a little more talking about their relationship and had agreed that Duo shouldn't leave everything up to Heero. He wouldn't press for anything that went beyond the bounds of their existing friendship but he would keep that from backsliding. That would serve as a safety net of sorts if Heero slipped up and shut Duo out again. He didn't *intend* to do so - but they were both realists and knew that, sooner or later, it would probably happen.

"You don't sound too thrilled by the thought," Duo observed. "Hey, if you've got a better idea, I'm game."

'Our friendship's okay again. It's time to get the rest of our relationship back on track.' Meeting Duo's patient but expectant gaze, Heero offered, "If I call ahead, we should be able to get a table at Santini's early enough to make the second show at the movies... There must be something playing that we'd enjoy..."

The choice of restaurant and the reservation put the evening firmly into "date" territory. Santini's wasn't exceptionally fancy but it wasn't a family restaurant either. On weekdays, it was a favourite of executives wining and dining prospective clients. But on a Saturday evening, it was quite definitely a place for couples.

A slow grin spread across Duo's face. "Sure! Sounds like a plan."

"Okay. You go ahead and take the first shower while I finish picking up in here. By the time I call and make our reservation, you'll be done and I can take mine."

"Okay."

Duo's obvious pleasure at his suggestion of a date confirmed for Heero that it was definitely time to pick up where they'd so abruptly left off when their company arrived the previous weekend. 'Time to start making up to Duo for my behaviour after that. And for all of the other setbacks, disappointments, and delays...'

***

Santini's was surprisingly peaceful considering that virtually every table was occupied. The low background murmur of voices and muted clink of cutlery served as white noise rather than an annoyance. Banks of tropical ferns and palms scattered between tables provided a certain degree of privacy; a privacy that was enhanced by the fact that the restaurant itself was dimly lit. Candles supplemented the lighting, increasing it to a comfortable but intimate level at each individual table. Heero hadn't ever been to Santini's in the evening before; he was pleased to find that it lived up to its reputation. 'Intimate but still comfortable... Prompt service and good food... Quiet enough for conversation yet not so quiet that talking seems inappropriate...'

The evening was off to a very good start.

"Y'know, we really need to give Relena an answer about that peace memorial ceremony..." Duo observed between bites of his chicken parmigiana.

"I know. It's less than a month away." Heero twirled his fork, gathering up a bite of spaghetti. "It would be nice to have everyone together for a few days but the thought of the media attention..." He shook his head and grimaced slightly. "That really doesn't appeal to me."

"Yeah, I know. Me neither. It's no big deal for the others; they're already in the public eye. But we haven't been and I kinda like it that way."

Silence fell for a few minutes while they both enjoyed their meal and thought about the situation some more. It wasn't as if their identities were a secret; they weren't. They simply hadn't been involved in anything that would attract attention from the general public. The others were in very public positions - Quatre and Trowa because of Winner Enterprises, Wufei and Zechs because of Preventers - and were therefore used to that kind of scrutiny.

"Maybe Relena could tone things down a little? Just let us all be an honour guard for her without bothering to introduce us or having us take some sort of special role in the ceremony? I mean, sure, people will still probably recognize us but, frankly, we're old news and not too terribly interesting at that..." Duo suggested tentatively.

Heero nodded thoughtfully. "If we all wore the formal uniforms of her personal security force, none of us would stick out too noticeably..." He hesitated a moment, then added with forced casualness, "It would be a good opportunity to tell the others about us... You know, while they're all together..."

Duo gave him a startled but pleased look. "Yeah, it would."

"Okay. We can give Relena a call tomorrow; see what she can work out." Heero had to admit that he was a little nervous about telling their friends about his and Duo's relationship. Not because he was afraid that they would react badly; he just wasn't sure whether he was prepared to face a barrage of questions about how and when and why they hadn't said anything sooner. It had been so very *easy* with Hilde and Rick. They'd simply acted the way that they normally did in the privacy of their home and Hilde had figured it out. Oh, she'd teased a bit about wanting details but she'd accepted their refusal to divulge those without a fuss.

"Umm, Heero, you do realize that you should probably break the news to Relena in private, before we tell the others, right?"

Actually, it hadn't occurred to him. While there had been some understandable discomfort between them over the weeks following Relena's acceptance that he did not and would never feel about her the way that she had hoped, that had long since disappeared. Now, she was simply one of the circle of friends that corresponded regularly. He hadn't stopped to think that she might be upset by the news that he and Duo were involved. "Damn."

Duo winced and gave him a sympathetic look. "I take it that you *hadn't* thought about it."

"No, I hadn't," Heero sighed. He *was* getting better at the social niceties but there were still aspects of interpersonal relations that simply escaped him. Fortunately, Duo knew him well enough that he - usually - didn't take that kind of thing personally when he was the one slighted, this past week being one obvious and understandable exception. And Duo wouldn't hesitate to point out - in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way - the error when someone else was involved. 'Thank god...' "You're right, I owe her the courtesy of telling her in private. Thanks for mentioning it."

"No problem."

Conversation lapsed again as they returned to eating. But the silence was a familiar, comfortable one rather than the tense, uncomfortable kind that had filled so much of the previous evening, reinforcing Heero's belief that they were back on the right track with their relationship.

'A little discreet flirting at the movie... Some making-out on the couch when we get home...

'Or maybe - if all goes well - even more...' Heero certainly hoped so. His hangups had delayed things long enough; he had no intention of holding things back anymore. It wasn't fair to Duo.

Lifting his wine glass as Duo reached for his own, Heero clinked the two together lightly. "To a very - *nice* - evening."

Duo snickered. "Nice, huh? I'll drink to that."

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