8-4-2004

Title: #99 Notification - Part 2
Arc: Life With Heero
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: August 1, 2004
Genre: Shonen Ai/Yaoi, Friendship, Romance
Pairing: 1x2, OCxH
Rated: PG
Warnings: Swearing
Archives: 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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Heero took one look at the interior of the first shed and understood why Duo and Hilde were both so dismayed at the prospect of inventorying its contents. "Shit."

Draping an arm over Heero's shoulder, Duo sighed heavily. "Yup, that about sums it up. Shit happens. We're up shit creek, in deep shit, shit-outta-luck..."

From her position on Duo's other side, Hilde swatted the back of his head and remarked, "I think he has the general idea, Duo. He doesn't need to hear your entire shit-list." Her initially serious tone was ruined by the snicker that she couldn't quite contain.

Duo snorted in amusement. "No shit-list, huh? How about..."

Heero clapped a hand over Duo's mouth, cutting him off in mid-sentence. "Oh no. You two are *not* getting started," he said firmly. "No more avoidance tactics; you can't put off dealing with this - mess - any longer."

"Hey! We haven't been avoiding dealing with it; we just..." Hilde hesitated, groping for words.

"...spent the last few years hoping it would all just go away?" Rick suggested dryly as he looked around the crowded building. He shook his head in disbelief. "God, what a mess..."

Stepping away from Duo, Heero cautiously threaded his way further into the shed. Junk was piled nearly to the rafters along the walls and the stacks were only slightly less intimidating elsewhere. "Are *all* the sheds like this?" he asked, not entirely sure that he really wanted to know.

"Uh, yeah," Duo admitted reluctantly. "Pretty much. Except for the one that I used during the war; I had to shift a lot of the crap out of it to make room for the suit. But it's still pretty full."

"And there's *how* many sheds?" Heero was really, really hoping that his memory of that little detail was incorrect.

"Six. The four along the fence here plus the two up by the house," Hilde replied with a sigh. "At least those two are a little smaller."

Gazing around at the assortment of just plain *junk*, Heero had to wonder whether two weeks was going to be enough time to deal with *one* shed, let alone six. Within a few feet of his position, he spotted a dented hot water heater, several rusty paint cans, a dilapidated cardboard box full of glass Mason jars, bundles of some sort of papers - newspapers or magazines probably - a toaster, and a doorless refrigerator. Mixed in with all of that junk were a few hubcaps, a bunch of random parts, and something that looked suspiciously like the thruster mounting assembly for an old Boeing Class A-52 shuttle.

In other words, there was just enough genuine, potentially valuable scrap in there to rule out the option of just shovelling it all straight into a dumpster.

"Shit," Heero repeated unhappily. He could see where they were going to be spending every spare waking moment between now and the auditor's visit. Right here, in one of these damn sheds. So much for his tentative plans for his and Duo's evenings.

Sighing in resignation, Heero glanced at his watch. No point wasting time standing here staring at the mess and getting more depressed. "I'd better get back to the Tanaka phase one plans. I should be able to get the draft finished and sent off for review this afternoon. That will leave the evening to start work out here."

"I can't get started in here any earlier either," Duo admitted. "I've got calls to return and I need to do some price-checking on the stuff that's coming up in that auction on Wednesday. Need a damn good idea what it's really worth before I get there to bid."

"We're probably going to end up doing most of this after-hours," Hilde pointed out. "There's just too much to do in the office during business hours for all of us to skip out and work in here instead."

"True," her husband acknowledged. "Listen, I'll call Jennie, see if maybe she can arrange some time off from Arnold's. She handled the office fine when she filled in before; if she could take over the routine stuff again now it would help. Even if she just trades shifts so she can work here in the mornings, it would be better than nothing."

Heero nodded in agreement with Rick's suggestion. The other man's sister had handled the office just fine while they were all off working on the Habitat for Humanity project. She wouldn't have the extra help that she'd had then but the four of them would be close by if they were needed.

"So - we're all agreed then? Business-as-usual till quitting time, then a quick change of clothes and a bite to eat before we tackle Project Oh-Shit?" Duo inquired innocently.

Hilde gave a distinctly unladylike snort and tried to grab his braid. Duo tousled her hair and dodged nimbly. "Siblings," Rich sighed, shaking his head at their antics.

Resisting the grin tugging at the corners of his mouth, Heero reached out and snagged Duo as he darted out of the shed. Duo yelped in surprise. "Forget the braid; go for the ribs," Heero advised Hilde solemnly. "He's very ticklish, you know."

"Hey, you're supposed to be on my side!" Duo protested laughingly. "C'mon, buddy, you can't let her tickle me..."

Heero sighed and shook his head. "I suppose not. Sorry, Hilde." He gave Hilde a sudden grin. "Well, if I can't let you tickle him then I think maybe I should just do it myself."

"Well, *I* think it's time for us all to get back to work," Duo said hurriedly. Hilde laughed and Rick snickered.

Heero chuckled and released Duo. "Good idea."

As they all headed back to the office, Heero considered how - comfortable - that little bit of horseplay between the group of them had felt. The only other people that he felt the same degree of ease with were the other former Gundam pilots. It was hard to believe that less than eighteen months ago Hilde was barely civil to him and Rick was a virtual stranger. Now - well, now they were the closest thing to family that he and Duo had.

Maybe two weeks of working long days together wouldn't be so bad after all.

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