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Chapter five: The Never Ending Story
Infatuation Hidden in the Closet...

Hilde sighed as the pain in her leg began to throb again. Pausing temporarily from her tedious cleaning duty, the woman leaned on the counter wearily. The house had been vacuumed numerous times, and she'd thrown away so much she could swear that there had to be a little piece of herself in those bags that she was ousting outdoors. But the floors and shelves just wouldn't come clean. In fact, it seemed they would be forever stained.
"Boy, am I getting melodramatic or what?" Hilde moaned in such a low voice that it sang harmoniously with the growling of her stomach. It was 3:48 now, and she'd been cleaning ever since about 9:00. What wouldn't she do for a nice meal.....
The dancing potatoes and steaks in her brief daydream dashed behind the curtain as their performance was rudely interrupted by a certain braided boy's mocking shouts to a certain piece of junk...
Hilde gasped at that one. It wasn't necessarily the fact that he was cursing that surprised her. Why, she'd heard that constantly ever since they'd started cleaning. It was just that this new phrase was a bit...extreme. Duo's shouts were so loud and vivid that Hilde didn't have to run in there to check on him. She knew exactly what was happening to the poor mistreated pilot. The root of Duo's anger was a crowbar about 12 inches long and 3 pounds. This 'troublemaker' was dull silver and kept falling on his head. (Probably because a certain brunette American kept putting it back in the same unsturdy place...) Either way it meant, Hilde had to admit that Duo had the most colorful vocabulary she'd ever heard. He didn't like to leave out one detail when it came to telling junk off.
It was incidents like this that led Hilde to believe that she should be in there hiding the gundam with walls of junk. But Duo grabbed that job as soon as Hilde thought about OZ wanting to search this house and question her purpose for living here again. After all, it only made sense that when they got word that she, a traitor, was re-opening her treacherous grandparents business it would a short while before the pesky organization knocked on her door. Fortunately, Duo and Hilde still had one life-line left. There was a chance that OZ wouldn't consider her a big enough problem to bother with a full blown investigation, so Hilde just suggested that they try to cover Deathscythe Hell with junk. Right now they were more concerned about the Sanc Kingdom. As long as it was thriving and promoting pacifism, OZ's military power and goals were under siege. Hilde herself was about to be transferred from Oz's space forces to it's Earth forces to destroy the Sanc Kingdom. At the time it excited her because she'd never been to Earth. Now..... it just shamed her.
Hilde moved back into her own battlefield again as Duo continued to wage his own with the cascading junk. His flamboyant diction was so rampant that the German girl had to wonder what her grandparents would say if they were still alive and knew that Hilde had just invited a Gundam pilot to live with her! And in this mess of a house with absolutely no money!
She laughed at the thought of their faces as she knelt over a step to pickup some fragment of an old porcelain doll. It was then that her memory was jogged...
Out of the corner of her eye she saw it... A keyhole that unlocked the family's hidden safe. It was under the third step of the staircase, a pretty good hiding place her grandfather decided to make to store valuables, and special documents, and....
" Money!....... The spare money!" Hilde exclaimed as she pushed all the fragmented objects aside and strained to open the step. This was just what she and Duo needed! But Hilde just wasn't strong enough to open it without the key! And her grandparents never told her where it was!
"VERDAMNT!" Hilde cursed, banging her fist on the step. "DUO!!!!!!" She screamed, "DUO!!! HURRY UP!!!!!!!"
Footsteps were instantly heard as Duo bolted through the door to check on Hilde.
Her mouth dropped open just about as fast...
The American seemed to have misplaced half of his black priest outfit and the white shirt underneath it, leaving him shirt-less. His body, surprisingly well tanned and very well toned was caked with grease and dust. Not even his braid, which was looser, went untainted from the black goo. His cobalt blue eyes were wider than usual as he scanned the perimeter for danger, gun in hand. Only when Duo was convinced that there was no threat did he allow the gun to slide out of his hand and into his oversized pocket.
He also noticed the peculiar look Hilde was giving him...
"Oh!" Duo exclaimed as he scratched the back of his neck nervously, "Oops...uh, sorry about that....... Kinda hot in there..."
'God, he's gorgeous!' Hilde thought, putting her jaw back in place and trying to remember why she called him in here.
"Whad 'ja need, babe?"
'Oh.....he just called me babe again... with his shirt off!'
YO, Hilde!"
"Huh? Oh!" Hilde removed herself from her daze and decided that the only way to remember why he was in here was to not look at him...and she literally did have to pry her eyes off of him.
"I.... I just remembered that my grandparent hid some money and valuables in a safe below this step. I can't open it since they hid the key but maybe you could..."
Duo smirked at the idea of Hilde asking him to pop open a step for some money when he had his shirt off. The little minx. He had to admit that she had good timing. But he'd just have to make a mental note that later on he'd have the right to enjoy a free show like the one he was going to give her... Heh heh heh. >:)
"Allrighty, let's take a looksie." Duo said, leaning over to the step. He tested the strength a bit first. He smiled over at Hilde.
"Well, babe. I'm pleased to say that if there is a thing called luck, we finally seem to be experiencing it! Your grandfather didn't put a strong lock here, probably because it's so well hidden."
"So you can open it!" Hilde asked happily.
"Hilde, I am positive that I can open this with a........" Duo temporarily paused at the sheer irony, ".....crowbar." he muttered.
Though Hilde didn't hear what he'd said she grinned because she knew exactly what he was talking about.
"I'll go get it! You've got it on the box labeled 'nails' right? It's about 12 inches long and three pounds, somewhat rusted."
"Yeah!" Duo exclaimed, "How'd ya' know?!"
"Who wouldn't know with how loud you were yelling!"
Duo laughed in spite of himself as Hilde ran off. As she turned, he got a good view of just how big that sweater was. 'Damn.' Duo cursed to himself. 'Why in the hell didn't I take my time to try and find something at least a little bit tighter so I could see some jiggling! This is sooooo unfair!'
As Hilde jogged off to retrieve the infamous crowbar, she couldn't help but to feel a bit sad. Now that she was taking the crowbar out of the garage, it was going to be pretty quiet around here...
She hurried back to Duo, who was waiting eagerly for the crowbar. Hilde handed to Duo somewhat reluctantly, wanting to just keep him there like that as long as possible.
Duo just grinned as he placed the crowbar under the lock.
"So I don't have to tell you how much pain this thing has put me through then? What a shame. I was going to talk about that over dinner. But don't you worry babe!" Duo half-grunted as he began to try and pry the step open, " I'm certain that I can think of something to talk about! After all, I'm Duo and I've been known to talk without pause in my sleep! But anyways, speaking of dinner, puh-lease tell me we're having it! I am soooooo vanished! I want a steak- big, thick, and juicy, just oozing with seasoning- and po-taters! Lot's of 'taters! With some corn, and garlic bread......but most importantly- the steak and 'taters!!!!..."
As appealing as Duo's dream dinner sounded to Hilde, she was a bit preoccupied watching a dream of her own as he tried to pry the lock lose. Damn, but he was strong for a fifteen year old! Now Hilde had never been the kind of girl to ogle at any man, but she had to question if any woman would be capable of not ogling at Duo! As he leaned over and heaved, still grinning ear to ear at the thought of his dream meal, Hilde couldn't help but to notice that his ass looked like two ripened grapefruits under a sheet...... Verdamnt! She loved grapefruit and she just wanted to squeeze the hell out of each bun...
...Did she really just think that? And was that drool coming out of her mouth? Hilde turned beet red and brushed it away quickly, just as Duo turned around with his proud announcement.
He opened the staircase quickly as Hilde knelt down beside him. She got a good look at the wild take he was making when he saw all the money too...
"DAMN BABE! YOU'RE FUCKING RICH!" Duo practically shouted.
Hilde just laughed. "Duo, this is just enough for us to reopen the business and pay for food and bills until then!"
"WHOA! Look at this!" Duo exclaimed as he lifted a huge emerald necklace from it's hiding spot in the corner, "Man, lemme tell you that back during my days on L-2, I'd have killed for something like this to sell!"
Hilde stopped starring at the unfamiliar piece of jewelry. Duo had just mentioned something about his past to her. So he'd been poor... She returned to conscious thought as she grinned at Duo.
"You know it's funny. I don't think I ever remember her wearing that."
"Small wonder!" Duo chided, "This thing is heavy as hell!"
He took her hand and pressed the necklace to it. He was right. It was the heaviest necklace Hilde had ever felt, and when she got a mental image of it on her grandmother, the necklace's weight cleaved her head off like a guillotine blade.
"What else is in here?" Hilde asked as she slid the necklace back into the corner.
"Marriage documents, birth certificates, business permits... The usual.... Say now....what's this?" Duo inquired as he held up a sheet of paper decorated with colorful stick figures. A bright and scribbled blue sky highlighted the figures, two adults and a child. It struck Duo as odd that the adults didn't look old like the grandparents Hilde had lived with, but hey! It sure was a cute family photo!
"Give me that!" Hilde exclaimed, snatching it from Duo's hands.
"Isn't that precious !" Duo cooed, "The artist spelled her named H-I-R-D-E instead os H-I-L-D-E!"
"You're too much!" Hilde laughed. Duo just shrugged and snatched back the picture, running around the living room floor.
"Duo!Give it back!" The German girl didn't bother chasing him because she was really afraid of what would happen if she caught him.
Duo grinned as he leaned over the only preserved picture frame on the floor. He was quick to put her six year old work of art into the frame and rehang it on the wall.
"There ya' go, babe." he said. "Now you still have a family portrait!"
Hilde shook her head with laughter as she gathered some of the money before shutting the step. 'Oh...that was soooooo sweet!' she thought happily.
"Where ya' goin'?" Duo asked.
"Well, you did say you wanted steak and potatoes, didn't you?"
Duo almost tripped over himself as he jumped up and down with anticipation.
"But one thing before you leave, Hilde. You've got to learn better English. You don't call them potatoes! That's all wrong! You call them po-taters or 'taters!!"
"Alright then, Duo." Hilde conceded, "But you better have finished a lot of work by the time I get back now that the pesky crowbar is out of the way!"
"Babe, consider it done." The pilot said with a wink before retreating to the garage.

* * * About 2 hours later * * *

Hilde finally wandered into the door with all the supplies that they should need for tonight and tomorrow. Since she didn't have a car or a license, she couldn't really get too much more. After all, a girl could only hold so much! And though Hilde had also been hoping to see some of her old friends during her short trip, she'd been sadly disappointed.
Nevertheless, the clock in her stomach told her that it was time to cook dinner!
She set down the groceries on the counter, strolling over to the garage just to let Duo know that she was back.
"Duo?" Hilde questioned peering her head into the garage. She was amazed at what she saw. He'd almost completely finished! The gundam was entirely concealed, and had just enough room to get out and for Duo to squeeze through in case he needed to battle. She had to admit that she was impressed.
"Hi-ya' Hilde!" Duo said, peeping out of a corner. I've got just a little more cleaning to do then I'll be done!"
She was a bit disappointed to see that he'd put his shirt back on. However, she still smiled at him. "I'm going to start supper now!" Hilde announced. "Just yell out if you need me, OK?"
"No prob, but hey, I'm a mess. You don't mind if I use your bathroom when I finish do you? I smell like a can of Raid with a hint of limburger cheese..."
"Ewww! Then be sure to stay away from me until you do shower, Duo!"
"Ha.Ha." Duo said dryly.
Hilde just laughed. "For real though. You're living here now, too. So you don't even have to ask."
"Thanks babe!" Duo said before sweeping up some stray wires on the floor.
Hilde shut the garage door and began unpacking groceries. After tenderizing and pounding the steak, she began cutting the garlic bread and 'po-taters'. Hilde Schbeiker took absolute care to do everything just right because she wanted this meal to be her best. She wanted to make Duo's stay here as nice as possible. It would be so lonely without anyone here....
Hoping that Duo liked a cajun touch, she sprinkled on just a bit more of her grandmother's 'special sauce'. (Though she was German, her family loved all kinds of food. Especially well seasoned cajun cooking.) Then, with a twist of her wrist, she set the timer and set the steak in.
As everything cooked, Hilde used her free time to clean the closet. Happily, that job wasn't hard since OZ had thrown nearly everything out of it! But she did manage to find a radio that looked like it may work. She wasn't hesitant to plug it in and see either.
The radio began to work after she did a bit of tweaking with the antenna. As it was, the radio was set to an oldies station. However, Hilde knew these songs well. They were all her grandparents listened to, and she didn't think that the music sounded half bad either. Well, most of it anyway. In fact the song that was coming on was one of her favorites...

Come on over. Come on over baby.
Come on over. Come on over baby.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!

Hilde danced and sang harmoniously as she buttered the garlic bread and set the table. In fact, as impossible as it is to believe, she actually completely forgot Duo was there!
But as Duo stepped out of the bathroom, cleansed and renewed, the words of the song got his attention. He heard Hilde singing, and it didn't sound half bad. Not only did it not sound half bad, but she singing for him to 'come on over'.
He walked into the living room just enough to see Hilde dancing to an old song that even he hadn't heard before.
"Say, now" Duo mumbled, "She ain't half bad."

Hey boy don't 'cha know
I've got sumthin' goin' on...

"Oh yeah, I know it." Duo murmured, as he watched the hips sway and the legs swerve. Right now his only problem with this picture was the outfit, and Duo cursed himself for the millionth time on getting her that oversized sweater.

I've got an invitation,
don't 'cha keep
me waitin' all night long.

"Ah, hell." Duo cursed, "she does owe me a freebie since I gave her one."

I know you know...

Hilde had been pretty pleased with herself. She felt like she was dancing pretty well and she was remembering more of the words than she thought. Suddenly she felt someone dancing behind her and slowly pulling her closer. She gasped as she turned and saw none other than Duo! Instantly, she glowed as brightly as Rudolph's nose...
"Come on, babe!" Duo urged, "don't stop now! You're on a roll!"
At Duo's urging, she somehow managed to get through the rest of the song without too big of a stumble. But she sure as hell didn't remember it with how closely they were dancing... It was like a blurred dream, she just couldn't believe it was real...
In fact, they ended up pressed together when the song ended...just starring at each other. Those eyes were lowered seductively and the devil's grin snuck up on Duo's face. But soon it lowered in intensity and Duo seemed to be in as much a daze as she was. He had the most beautiful eyes and she followed every move they made... Even when they fell closer to hers as their faces moved closer and the boy's lips parted...
All of a sudden, another song came on, and this woman's voice sounded like a dying giraffe. Duo released his grip on Hilde as he covered his ears and doubled over in pain. Hilde saw the emergency and she dashed toward the radio, silencing it with a flick of her wrist as she unplugged the cord.
"Damn! What was that?" Duo asked, somewhat glad for the distraction. By God! What had he nearly done!!!
"I think it was Macy Grey." Hilde shuddered, sad that this woman was already dead because now there was no way for her to kill her for ruining the mood. "She's awful!"
"That is an understatement!" Duo exclaimed, a bit louder than usual. Was he nervous???
"So, what's that smell? Is dinner almost done!"
* ding! * the stove timer chimed.
"Yes!" Hilde exclaimed, pulling the steak out of the oven and placing it on the table with the rest of the meal.
"WHO-HOO!" Duo exclaimed, filling his plate so much that the food was almost falling off it.
"Duo, you're so silly! Eating like there's no tomorrow!"
"Well babe, you never can tell if it will be that way or not. That's why I always eat like there's no tomorrow. And I live like that, too."
Hilde smiled. "I guess you're right, Duo."
" 'Course I am Hilde. And, by the way since I forgot to mention it earlier, I got the gundam to Stan's Place without having to ask directions either, just like I told you I would!"
Hilde giggled. She knew it was stupid, but she was really falling for Duo hard and fast. But then again, as she thought about it, she'd never really had a chance . What woman wouldn't fall for this guy? Hilde shook the feelings aside. She was being silly. What place did romance have in a war anyway? She and Duo were just allies. He could even have a girlfriend or a family that needed him soon after the war! What hope did she have that Duo had a gap in his life that she could fill?
'I'll just pack these thoughts away in that empty closet.' Hilde thought sadly, ' And someday, I'll find them again when the war is over. Then I can be a foolish lovesick girl. I'll be alone then, and have all the time in the world for those things.'