Quatre had been right about giving people time to reply, but Heero realized now that he shouldn’t have waited quite so long. He’d returned to the message board the next morning just a little too eager, too hopeful, after that interval, as if expecting a set of detailed, specific answers waiting for him in the replies — either a general consensus that this must be a hoax, or… well, nothing else, really. What else could they possibly have said?

A lot of nonsense about artifacts, that was what.

Heero wasn’t even really sure what an artifact was in this context, but, according to just about everyone on this forum, no single person could have cast a spell this effective and long-lasting without at least one.

Can you get more details from him about the type of magic his friend used? one person asked. And what kinds of artifacts he used?

I once turned half my skin into leather mixing three artifacts by accident, another supplied, and those were just the usual household arties. I can see someome doing something like this if he had something bigger.

A third briefly wondered, What divinations have you tried on him? proving immediately that they hadn’t actually read the original post as Heero had specifically mentioned that he and his friend had no knowledge of magic themselves.

Not that everyone took the reputed curse seriously. Sounds like a trick to me, said one skeptic. I mean, like people said above, there’s no way to cast a spell like that especially for so long without a couple of people working on it AND probably a strong arti or two. You should check that thing again for wires and speakers.

Another didn’t even take the post seriously. Oh great, another troll. You people who come around here making s*** up really ought to look up how magic actually works before you come posting this s***. Better yet, find something better to do. Like diaf.

This last made Heero rather angry, and served as a reminder of why he didn’t hang out online, but his overall mood was one of frustration. He was convinced by now that most of the people on this forum believed in magic and had at least a general knowledge of how it supposedly worked. But what the hell were these artifacts they were all going on about?

He found he was too irritated to look this up, or to answer any of their questions at the moment — even if he decided he was going to in any case, which he might not. After all, though he hadn’t gotten any terribly useful responses, what he had gotten pointed rather decidedly to the original theory that Duo was full of shit. Or perhaps s***. Even if all these people weren’t roleplaying or crazy and magic did exist, they seemed to agree that what Duo had described was impossible — which was exactly what Heero had believed all along.

At the end of the hall he paused, once again looking at the strange little figure on the end table in the living room. The television had probably, in the last two days, aired the Syfy channel for longer than it had in the last two years.

What if it wasn’t impossible? What if Duo really was a — he could barely entertain the thought without shaking his head — human cursed to live forever as a Barbie doll?

Heero didn’t even feel like thinking about that.

“Doesn’t it get boring?” he wondered with an effort, moving forward into the room, determined to distract himself. He wished Quatre hadn’t gone home and left him here alone with Duo.

“Star Trek?” the doll replied in a shocked tone. “Never!”

Heero sat down at the end of the couch nearest the little table, and examined the doll. Quatre the soft-hearted had evidently been more moved by Duo’s complaints than Heero had, and had combed and braided his hair at some point. That was just like Quatre. Heero still couldn’t quite figure out whether his friend was slipping and really believing Duo’s nonsense, or just being nice, the way he usually did, to anyone and everyone.

“I mean watching TV all day and night,” Heero said at last.

Oh, yes.” Duo nodded his stiff nod. “It’s better than nothing, but, god, it gets old. It gets to the point sometimes where I even prefer having tea parties with Barbie and then having to pretend to make out with her.”

Repressing a laugh Heero said in the most serious tone he could command, “Should I go out and buy a Barbie for you, then?”

“I’d like to see you do that,” Duo replied. “In fact, we could make a date out of it: dinner, a movie, and Toys’R’Us.”

“A sci-fi movie, I assume.”

“Definitely. Is Avatar still in theaters? I wanted to see that.”

“It may still be at the cheap– wait. You’re a doll. Why do you need a theater when my TV is like a big screen to you?”

“So rent it for me. I like that kind of date better anyway.”

“I am not dating you,” Heero said flatly, though he was honestly more amused than anything else.

“That’s OK,” replied Duo in his ‘shrug’ tone. “You can just take me straight to bed.”

One of Heero’s brows went down and the other up. The result was a sort of skeptical scowl. “Maybe if you’re a really good boy. Doll.”

Duo laughed.

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The magical message board was specifically based on every JavaScript help forum I’ve ever visited. “Can you post the script you’re trying?” is really frustrating to get in response to, “Does anyone have a script that will do XYZ, or know if it’s even possible?”