Out of Sight
Those first few eventful days were in stark contrast with the eerie calm that followed. Between the three of us, daily routines started to form, and it didn't take very long to make Heero one of the team at the yard.
It was all an illusion, though. None of us said it, but we knew Heero still had ways to go. He might have gone cold turkey on the bottle itself, but that was the easy part. Making it last was another thing altogether. Even so, every day was a victory.
It took me over two weeks before I finally noticed. Heero's small triumphs had a price - a rather specific one. Hilde and I had scoured the place after the wine bottle fiasco. Anything deemed dangerous to Heero's ailment was either disposed of or locked away. Hilde kept the key, claiming I would be easier to sway. I didn't argue. Our place was thus safe - but the world outside was not.
Heero was hiding.
The last time he'd been outside our fence was when we picked up the new bed. After that, he'd simply stayed.
Even knowing this, I didn't want to push him. Making the yard a safe haven for him was more important. I decided to give him a little more time to adjust - but perhaps bring him along on the next trip to the grocery store. It looked like going out alone was the scary part. Chaperoned trips might be acceptable.
The calm was eventually disturbed. I'd just gone in for a quick pit stop and was heading back when Hilde cut me off, two slips of paper in her hand. "Duo, what's this?"
It took me a moment to recognize the pawnshop receipts. I had pocketed them when I found them at Heero's old place, hid them when we got back, and promptly forgotten about them. I figured they'd be safe deep in Hilde's underwear drawer - that seemed like the last place Heero would look, if he wanted to snoop around - or hunt for booze.
He did neither. At least not in her room.
I explained to her they were Heero's. In a dark moment, he'd pawned both his gun and his laptop. She pointed out the fast approaching date stamped on the slips.
"We'd better tell him to pick them up if he still wants them."
I started to nod, but halted. "Perhaps we shouldn't mention this to Heero."
I cut her off, not wanting a long or loud argument. Heero would notice either. "Look, I came upon them by chance and pocketed them. Heero never said anything about them, and he didn't mention them when he went over what things to bring along. Perhaps they simply slipped his mind, but it's just as likely he didn't want to admit he'd pawned even those things. I mean, I know how much he loved them, and-"
"So, we're just going to let this slide?"
I shook my head. "No. I want to be safe, that's all. I'll go pick them up myself."
She looked about to object, but didn't. Instead, she looked at the receipts again. "...it's not exactly close. Don't you think he'd notice your absence?"
I gritted my teeth. "And who do you suppose I'll ask for help? We promised to keep his staying here a secret, at least for a while longer. I doubt he'd be happy if-"
She relented. "Okay, point taken."
"I think... I'll have to go on a business trip tomorrow night."
She studied me again, not looking entirely happy, but gave in with a sigh, handing me the receipts. "Yeah... We've been wanting to make a bid for the suit wreckage drifting off the L1 perimeter for a while. Think you could file that while you're at it?"
I flashed her a grin, took the slips of paper. It was good to have someone cover for you. "Thanks, Hilde."
Frown. "It's still pretty thin. We could have sent a mail courier."
I shrugged. "It's all in the presentation. Our odds improve with a personal delivery."
She sighed again, glanced at the door. I agreed - this was taking too long. Heero might sober up permanently just fine, but his sense of paranoia dies hard. I should know, suffering from the same. Call it a lingering war wound. "Go. We'll work out the details tomorrow."
I stuffed the receipts in my pocket and nodded.
Perhaps I'd get Heero something nice for his one-month anniversary.