Business important enough to force a meeting to convene on a Saturday would always be sufficient to drive just about anything else from Quatre’s head, so he’d mostly forgotten about the talking doll. However, the moment he got out of the airport and into his car (for the second time that day) and his cell informed him that he had missed calls and voicemail, he remembered everything.
The message was from a friend, inviting him out this evening, and Quatre deleted it without even listening all the way through. The other caller, as usual, hadn’t bothered leaving a message, and Quatre immediately returned the call.
“Are you coming back over here or going straight home?” Heero wanted to know.
Quatre laughed, his mind again full of the enthusiastic interest Duo had inspired yesterday evening. As if he would go home at this point! “Have you figured out that doll yet?” he asked eagerly. Then, realizing he hadn’t answered the question, appended, “I’m definitely going there.”
“No,” Heero answered Quatre’s badly-placed query. “Not exactly. But I’ve got something to show you.”
“I’m just getting on the highway,” Quatre informed him. “I’ll see you in about fifteen minutes.” And the rest of his trip to Heero’s apartment was conducted in mighty impatience.
“How was your meeting?” Heero greeted him at the door when Quatre arrived.
“I think we may have things straightened out over there,” answered Quatre. “But I can’t think about that right now; what did you want to show me?”
Wordlessly Heero gestured him to follow.
As they moved through the living room, Duo spoke up from where he still sat on the end table wrapped in a paper towel. “Hey, Quatre.” He was watching TV. At least, Quatre assumed he was watching; it was difficult to tell.
“Hi.” It felt strange to be casually greeted by what was essentially a Ken doll, and even stranger to return the greeting as if it were perfectly normal.
Heero didn’t stop, but led Quatre through to the second bedroom, where he pointed at the chair that stood out from the desk. “Last night I tried searching for talking dolls, and didn’t find anything,” he stated as Quatre took the seat as instructed. “But look at what I found today.”
He’d left a number of sites open in multiple tabs, in addition to a search engine, and dutifully Quatre rifled through them.
“Magic?” he wondered. Heero had searched for magic on the internet? Heero Yuy had looked up sites about magic?
Glancing over one after another, Quatre grew more and more interested and surprised. Because these weren’t the type of sites he would have expected on the subject — badly-constructed personal pages hosted by giant, disreputable free servers rattling on with poor syntax about cosmic mysteries in dark blue text on starry black backgrounds. These were articles and journals and archives such as he might have found if he’d searched for knitting or golfing or sudoku or a thousand other hobbies, and they looked every bit as legitimate.
“‘Magical cooking requires less kitchen space,'” he read aloud. “‘The fallacy of magic/computer incompatibility.’ ‘Magical security systems: cheaper than traditional alarm systems, but are they as effective?’ ‘How common artifacts form and what they’re used for.’ Well.”
“Yeah,” Heero said.
Still staring at the screen, Quatre sat back in the chair and ran his hands through his hair. “Well,” he said again. “Either this is the biggest and most dedicated collection of nerds in the world, or magic is the worst-kept secret of the twenty-first century.”
Quatre continued to gaze almost absently at the list of ‘common artifacts,’ trying to decide how he felt about this, while Heero stood behind him without moving or speaking.
Finally Heero said, “I still don’t know that I believe him.”
Slowly Quatre shook his head. “Me neither. But this certainly is… interesting.”
“Yeah,” Heero said a third time. Another few moments passed in silence before he spoke again. “Let me show you one more thing.”
Quatre relinquished the chair and watched as Heero pulled up something he’d evidently bookmarked earlier. Without a word he stood again and gestured Quatre to resume the seat and look.
“‘Magical Help Forum,'” Quatre read. Looking past the moderators’ note advising new members to read the rules and check the ‘Frequently Miscast Spells’ list before posting, he clicked on the first thread.
Help! the post said. My dog wouldnt stop barking at the guy fixing our sprinklers so I cast a silence on him and now I can’t get it off!! He tries to bark or whine and no sound comes out! I tried a spell to clear out other spells, and one of those ‘Put this back to how it was a certain point spells, even just a spell to make things louder, but nothing works, what am I doing wrong?
The first reply read, do u use artifacts? The second requested the exact wording of all the spells attempted by the poster so far. The third remarked, Sounds like artifact interference to me.
Quatre didn’t read any farther, but rather turned to look at Heero again. The latter was watching with arms folded and a dark, pensive expression; Quatre knew exactly what he was thinking. “It couldn’t hurt,” he agreed with the unspoken sentiment.
They switched places again, since Heero seemed even more interested than he professed in writing the post. He certainly was getting into this; Quatre didn’t think Heero had ever posted anything in an online forum in his life. Actually, he wouldn’t have thought there was anything in the world that could ever induce Heero to post anything in an online forum. Quatre leaned over his shoulder, watching as he went about setting up a new account.
“Screen name?” Heero prompted.
“Just shove some random words together,” Quatre shrugged, “and throw some numbers on it.” He started listing unrelated words as they came to mind. “Space… heart… wing… zero…”
Heero muttered something about not wanting to spell out a number and then put digits after it, and entered ‘spaceheart4321.’
Quatre nodded his approval. “Better check the ‘Frequently Miscast Spells’ list before you post.”
“I looked at it earlier,” Heero replied, starting a new post. “It’s all domestic stuff: hair-dyeing and clothes-washing and…” He trailed off as he began typing.
Have found talking doll that claims to be cursed human from 1800’s. Please advise.
“I think you’re going to have to give more details than that,” laughed Quatre.
Heero frowned, and mumbled, “I feel like an idiot going into detail.”
“Nobody knows who you are,” Quatre reminded him. “If this is for real, they’ll want the details anyway… and if it’s all a joke, they’ll just think you have a great imagination.”
A little reluctantly, Heero nodded and began rewriting his message. This time, with some prodding from Quatre, he managed to include everything relevant besides names and places — including the specifics of Duo’s story and their own skepticism on the subject. Even after proofreading it twice, though, he hit the ‘post’ button rather hesitantly.
Quatre stood straight, looking around at the door and listening to the sound of the television from the next room. “I guess that’s all there is to be done right now,” he said.
Heero nodded slowly; as he rose from the desk, his eyes seemed locked on the monitor. Quatre noticed this was the only part of the computer he turned off before moving into the hall.
They sat on the couch in the living room for approximately two minutes, not quite long enough to ascertain what Duo was watching, before Heero stirred and made a movement as if to rise.
Once again Quatre knew exactly what he was thinking. Smiling and putting out a hand to stop him he said, “Give people a chance to respond.” Heero subsided.
“What are you two up to?” Duo wondered. As Heero opened his mouth to reply he added hastily, “I know, I know, none of my business. But you never realize the value of being able to just get up and walk into another room whenever you want until you lose it.”
Maybe Heero was right; maybe Quatre was starting to believe all of this. Whatever the case, he found himself far less inclined to laugh at this just complaint than he would have been yesterday.
There are some gimmicks that are almost impossible to resist at certain moments. Quatre could have suggested any random words in the world (or, rather, actually random words), but I just couldn’t restrain myself from making a silly reference to canon there. It’s not the last time in the story that this happens, either… though I think this one’s the most blatant.