Heero was not a morning person. He did what he had to, of course (part of which was being to work on time at eight every day), but in general the world before ten o’clock seemed to him something like the setting of a horror movie — and the monsters were those perky people that could do equations and complicated analysis and be polite to obnoxious others at only the slightest notice upon awakening. On Saturdays he made sure to stay safely in bed until the coast was clear.
The problem with sleeping late, however, was that, no matter how nice it felt to awaken in his own time without an alarm, he was always rather sluggish for a while unless he had some specific task to see to immediately. Most weekends this didn’t bother him, but right now, with Duo around, he preferred to be a little more alert. So as soon as he was out of bed, he turned on some music a little louder than was his habit, and headed for the kitchen to start his coffee immediately.
“Good morning!” Duo greeted him cheerfully from his end table.
Before replying, Heero reminded himself firmly that Duo couldn’t sleep and therefore could be neither night person nor morning person at this point. “Morning,” he finally said.
Duo had muted the television with the remote lying by his side; as Heero got the coffee going he asked, “So what are we listening to?”
It occurred to Heero that he was a little too accustomed to living alone; he hadn’t even considered that his wakeup music might inconvenience Duo. This, of course, sent his thoughts out to the happy field of ‘living with Duo,’ whence he quickly reined them in because that kind of thinking wouldn’t do anyone any good. “Prisn,” he answered the question.
“Never heard of it,” said Duo promptly.
“Yeah, most people haven’t,” Heero yawned. Turning his back on the gurgling of the coffee-maker, he leaned against the counter and looked at Duo. “So what kind of music do you like?”
“Mexican circus music,” Duo replied after a moment’s thought.
Halfway through another yawn, Heero felt his brows contract in confusion. “What?”
“Well, I don’t know if it’s really Mexican or what…” Duo waved an arm vaguely. “In one place I lived, there was a Mexican family next door, and they used to play this stuff really loud so we could hear it too. Drove my kid’s parents crazy. It was this really cheerful, upbeat stuff that sounded like what you hear in circus scenes in movies, and it was all in Spanish. I think.” As a sort of aside he added, “I speak maybe ten words of Spanish, and that’s Wade Spanish anyway.”
“And that’s…” Heero stared at him. “That’s your favorite music? Something you heard through a wall and didn’t understand?”
“You asked.” It was Duo’s ‘shrug’ tone, but there was a grin involved as well.
“But…” Heero couldn’t quite explain why this baffled him so much. How could someone over a century old be so lacking in any decisive opinion about music? “Didn’t you live through the jazz era? Didn’t you pretty much live through the development of all modern styles of music?”
“Well, yeah, but mostly with kids! I mean, if you had to listen to things like Mr. Green Jeans and Muffy Mouse and Hanna Montana for seventy years, you’d appreciate some Mexican circus music too!”
Heero laughed. “OK, I see your point.” Then he moved forward, picked up Duo in the hand that wasn’t holding his newly-filled coffee mug, and headed for the hallway. “But I think this is something we need to fix.”
“Onward!” cried Duo in his small voice as he was carried away from the place he’d occupied for almost the entire time he’d spent in Heero’s apartment.
Entering his bedroom, Heero felt a slight, unaccustomed embarrassment about its state. It was true that he only tolerated mess up to a point, but he knew that sometimes that point was farther along the clutter scale than others’ — certainly farther along than Quatre’s. However, the only thing Duo had to say was, “Ooh, I finally get to see your bedroom.” Which Heero really should have been expecting.
“Yes,” replied Heero calmly, and then just couldn’t help adding, “Remember what I told you about being a very good boy?”
“Is that what we’re doing?” Duo said in a deliberate tone of pleased surprise. “I mean, that’s definitely something we need to fix too, but I thought you were talking about music.”
Deciding that he probably couldn’t get away with the response he was considering, Heero just chuckled again as he set Duo down on his dresser next to his CD player. The doll began swiveling his head back and forth in a wide arc, examining the room. “Oh, you’ve got that cool hands-drawing-each-other picture,” he commented, waving an arm.
Heero nodded, unzipping the binder that held his CD’s and beginning to flip through it. Duo turned his painted eyes in that direction and watched him. “So what do you call this stuff?”
“What stuff?” Heero looked up at him, forgetting that there would be no facial expression from which to obtain a hint about Duo’s meaning. Not that he minded looking at Duo: it was always thought-provoking to see the plastic body in those little clothes Heero had bought beneath the long and bizarrely realistic hair, and Heero still liked to imagine what Duo would look like as a human.
“This music that’s playing,” Duo said.
“Oh. Well, this group’s ten fans,” replied Heero ironically, “call it ‘experimental-hard-rock-slash-neo-classical-fusion.'”
“How pretentious,” remarked Duo in his ‘grin’ tone.
Heero shrugged. “It sounds better than ‘our orchestra has electric guitars.'”
“You know how weird it’s been to watch this whole ‘genre’ thing develop?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, there’s half a million different kinds of just ‘rock’ now, aren’t there? I mean, I remember where all there was on the radio was ‘pop’ — and for a while they were calling all of that ‘rock’n’roll’ — and ‘country-western.'”
“Really?” Heero had found the CD he wanted, and was spinning it somewhat absently around his finger while he waited for the song currently playing to end. “No classical or jazz or anything?”
“Oh, yeah, I guess there was that… But you didn’t hear people talking about ‘trance’ and ‘thrash metal’ and whatever the difference between ‘hip-hop’ and ‘rap’ is… which, by the way, what is it?”
“I’m…” Heero grimaced. “…not really sure…”
“Can’t be important, then,” declared Duo.
Heero’s expression needed very little alteration to go from grimace to grin. “OK, you’ve heard enough Prisn; now listen to this.” And he switched the CD.
“All right,” Duo agreed jovially.
They might not have found Duo a new favorite, or even broadened his musical horizons to any great extent, but Heero at least was enjoying himself so much that he rather lost track of the rest of the world for a while. He was only brought back to it, with something of an unpleasant jolt, when Duo remarked eventually, “Trowa really likes jazz.”
Because it always came back to Trowa, didn’t it?
When Heero had nothing to say in response to this, Duo went on a little wistfully, “At least he used to. He was pretty good at clarinet back in the day. Of course he was almost completely self-taught… we sure couldn’t afford music lessons. I wonder if he still plays…”
So Trowa was musical as well as magical, was he? Heero restrained himself from remarking sourly that he bet Trowa did still play, and had been practicing for ninety years and was now a virtuoso — whereas the extent of Heero’s musical inclinations was occasionally singing along with something when he was absolutely certain nobody could see or hear him.
He looked around, letting life come back into focus, and realized with a start what the time was. “Oh, Quatre’s going to be here soon to watch the game,” he said. “I’d better get dressed.”
“Aw, you’re going to change out of those sexy pajama pants?” Duo complained.
Feeling his face go abruptly hot, Heero glanced down at his cotton pants and their repeating pattern of Optimus Prime’s face. “Yes,” he said, and was pleased at how levelly he managed it.
“Well, do I at least get to watch?”
If Duo’s tone hadn’t been so clearly joking, Heero did not doubt that his own face would have gone even more red than it probably already was. In any case, he took care not to let Duo see it as he picked him up. “No,” he said in the same level tone.
Duo made an exaggerated sound of disappointment as Heero carried him back into the living room and replaced him on his end table. A moment later, before Heero had even reached his bedroom door again, the sound of the TV coming back on floated down the hall. And Heero went to change contemplating how frustrating words could sometimes be that otherwise might have been exactly what you wanted to hear.
And here’s a picture of Trowa playing his clarinet (not entirely relevant to this part, but he never actually plays the thing during the course of the story, so here’s as good as any):
I actually drew this for Zombie Girl’s 2010 birthday, since, as I’ve mentioned, the whole story is for her and Trowa is her favorite. I screwed up the damn angles, and I can’t fix things like that on paper very well, so the clarinet got all super long, but ZG didn’t seem to mind.