On occasion — a very rare occasion — someone would ask Duo why he flirted so outrageously with every adult he talked to. The real answer was that he’d spent so much time with children — played with by children and taking part in their games, watching children’s television and movies, listening to children’s music and their books read aloud, and even being considered an object designed exclusively for children — that any opportunity to reconnect with the adult world was welcome. There were more meaningful ways of doing so, of course, but pointed and often suggestive flirtation, he’d found, was quick and reliable.
He never actually gave that answer, though, since he hated the question so damn much. It seemed to imply that, from a doll, any expression of romantic or sexual interest in a non-doll was unnatural and out of place. Therefore he usually answered by flirting even more outrageously than before.
So when their discussion of bisexual Ken led Heero eventually to ask him, “Since when does a doll care so much about gay issues anyway?” Duo was less than pleased. Heero was a reasonable sort, and would undoubtedly understand if Duo pointed out seriously that being a doll really made very little difference in his interests and concerns — but Duo didn’t feel like answering seriously.
“When I’m surrounded by so many faaaabulous gay men,” he said flippantly, “of course I care.”
“How do you know we’re all gay?” Heero wondered.
“Well, Quatre I’m not so sure about,” replied Duo pensively, “but you’re obvious.”
“Come on, man, you’ve got an end table. Do straight guys buy end tables?” Duo was able to tap his plastic hand against the table, which was very satisfying after so many gestures that didn’t even begin to indicate the desired object.
“It was a present from my parents,” Heero replied a bit stiffly.
“Oh, do they know you’re gay too?”
“Why are we talking about this?” demanded Heero.
“Isn’t it part of the gay agenda?” Duo responded lazily. “‘Sit around talking about how gay we are?'” This won him a slight laugh and a certain amount of relaxation from Heero. “You’re right about one thing, though,” he went on a little more seriously. “A doll doesn’t really have to worry much about discrimination. Well, parents might get rid of me for being a bad influence on their kids because I’m gay, but they’d probably already have gotten rid of me just for talking in the first place.”
“So you do actually identify specifically as gay,” Heero confirmed.
Heero was odd… he was certainly a nice guy, and a lot of fun to talk to, but just beneath that outward friendliness there was a sort of coldness or hardness that Duo couldn’t seem to get past. It was as if he was only superficially involved in the situation, doing what he did out of actual altruism rather than any real interest. It was a shame, since Duo thought he might otherwise have had a real interest in Heero.
“Ever since…” Duo paused ponderously. “1969. There wasn’t really a ‘gay identity’ for gay people back when I was human — though there were plenty of us wandering around — but I got to watch the whole culture change. The 60’s sucked,” he added thoughtfully. “It isn’t necessarily a good thing when you can’t openly be identified as part of a certain group, even when that group is the butt of some horrible decade.” His voice sank lower as he remembered. “When you want to help… when you want to stand up for something… you’d rather…”
He trailed off; this was becoming far more serious than he’d intended. Heero was behind him, in the kitchen, probably getting some of that food stuff that Duo, even after all this time, tried very hard not to miss desperately; so Duo couldn’t see him or how he might be reacting to the uncharacteristic solemnity of topic and expression. Nor was Heero saying anything. Well, he would just have to say something; that was all. “So what about you?” Duo demanded brightly. “How long have you been out of the closet?”
The silence behind him went on for a few moments, though the sound of cupboards and dishes indicated Heero’s continued presence. Finally Heero said, “I’m not sure you could exactly call me ‘out of the closet.'”
“Well, your parents obviously know,” Duo pointed out, “since they gave you the end table.” And he patted the table beneath him again with satisfaction.
Heero laughed faintly. “Yes, my parents know. They don’t like it much, but they know.”
“And Quatre obviously knows.”
“What do you mean, ‘obviously?'” wondered Heero a little suspiciously.
“What do you mean, what do I mean?” Duo replied innocently.
“We have a couple of friends who won’t stop trying to hook us up, and if you start doing it too I will…” He paused, evidently searching for a suitable threat. “…take you to Goodwill.”
“No!!” Duo cried, trying not to mar the drama by laughing. “I mean, OK, I won’t. So Quatre is definitely gay too, then.”
“I thought he was more obvious than me,” muttered Heero.
Duo laughed again.
“Actually that’s part of why we were friends in the first place,” Heero went on reminiscently after a few moments. “It’s scary to realize you’re gay in high school, and having a friend helps. He was braver than I was; he was out to all his friends by the time we graduated. I didn’t go out with anyone until my sophomore year of college.”
“Well, you’ve got me beat,” Duo said encouragingly. “I never ‘went out’ with anyone ever. Or to college, actually. I’ve been to elementary school, though. Usually in someone’s backpack, but at least I got to hear about times tables and The Voyage of the Mimi.”
This made Heero laugh once more, less faintly than before, as he came to sit on the couch beside Duo with his dinner a little more comfortably than he’d been moving or speaking for the last few minutes. This was the reason Duo had changed the subject; Heero obviously wasn’t entirely easy talking about gay issues — which was probably what he meant when he said he wasn’t exactly out of the closet — and Duo didn’t think it advisable to push him. Though if he’d been human, perhaps…
For the moment, Duo reached down to the remote control that was conveniently positioned next to him and turned on the TV. “It’s about time for Ghost Hunters, I think,” he said.