“If only my thumbs moved,” Duo complained, “we could play cards or something. I wouldn’t even need the rest of my fingers to separate even, if I just had one opposable digit.”
Heero laughed sympathetically. They’d been discussing things to do besides watching television, and, while discussion itself sufficed for the moment, this particular topic had already been so thoroughly canvassed as never to last long anymore.
“Why did you take a week off, again?” asked Duo next, partly because it seemed natural in the current conversation and partly because he liked hearing Heero’s answer.
“Because all this magic stuff is so interesting it was distracting us at work,” Heero replied as expected. “We hoped things might be worked out by the end of the week, or at least we’d be used to it, and we could go back to work without all the distraction.”
“Mmmm,” said Duo in a tone of revelry, “I’m a distraction.”
Heero gave another of his cute monosyllabic laughs. “Yes, you are,” he agreed. “But you’re not distracting enough and Duo, I swear to god if you turn that TV on again while I’m in the room, I will–”
“Take me to Goodwill?” Duo broke in, stealing all the thunder from Heero’s threat.
“Yes,” Heero agreed.
“Can it be a date?” Duo wondered.
Heero rolled his eyes.
“Well, what do normal guys do when they’re bored?” Duo asked.
“All sorts of things,” Heero answered in some exasperation, “most of which you can’t do.”
“‘All sorts of things,’ huh?” Duo echoed, but by now he’d approached this type of statement from this particular angle so many times that the suggestive tone was starting to sound a bit stale. “Well, how about…” But he trailed off. The truth was that he really didn’t know much about what normal guys did when they were bored. He knew what children did when they were bored, but apart from the fact that he couldn’t do most of that either, he didn’t think Heero would be terribly interested in any pretending games of that sort.
They’d spent the first half of Heero’s week off talking, trawling YouTube for music videos and generally interesting stuff, talking, and, yes, watching a lot of TV; apparently Heero had reached his breaking point when it came to the latter, and was absolutely determined to find something else to do. Duo was honestly touched that Heero was so bent on doing things with him, and didn’t mind at all that Heero’s insistence was making him miss all his favorite shows.
“You know what we could do…” Heero said eventually into the pensive silence.
Based on Heero’s already somewhat hesitant tone, Duo decided not to respond to this with a suggestive remark that would have been a repeat of something he’d said earlier anyway, and just prompted, “Yeah?”
“If you wanted,” Heero went on, still slowly and a little warily, as if it was something strange or unpleasant he was about to suggest, “I could read a book aloud to you.”
Duo’s first thought was that it was absolutely adorable that Heero was so shy about such a thing. His second thought was that he had no idea why it should be so adorable, nor why Heero should be so shy about it in the first place. His third thought was that he would very much like to know, and would definitely have to keep his eyes open. And his fourth thought was that he’d better answer before Heero decided from his silence that it had been a bad idea and retracted the suggestion.
“That is a thought,” he said, in appropriate thoughtfulness. “Do you have any good books, though?”
With a skeptical look as if to ask, “Would I have suggested it if I didn’t?” Heero rose from where he’d been sitting, as he had been quite a lot these last few days, on the couch. His inexplicable and wholly welcome determination to do things with Duo during his week off had led him to start carrying Duo around with him much of the time, so it was no surprise when he picked Duo up now before he headed down the hall.
But when they entered the room where the computer and bookshelf and spare bed lived, Heero stopped for a moment in the doorway, as if pausing in thought, then reached around behind him with the hand holding Duo so that the doll was facing the opposite direction Heero was and held against the small of his back.
“Is this like making me sit in the corner?” Duo wondered as Heero moved into the room. Heero was clearly perusing the bookshelf, but Duo was now looking at the computer desk and the opposite wall.
“It’s more like not letting you see what kind of awful taste in books I had when I was younger,” Heero replied evenly.
“What?!” Duo yelped. “Now you have to let me see!”
“No, I don’t.”
“Did you read the Babysitters Club, or what?” Duo was flailing his stiff limbs in impotent rebellion. “Come on, put me back around there!”
“No,” Heero said, and there was some laughter in his voice.
“You know, I could have seen them any time yesterday when we were looking at stuff on the computer,” Duo pointed out. “How do you know I don’t already know everything you’ve got up there?”
“Because you were facing the computer, and I notice when you turn your head all the way around,” Heero answered logically and with a slight shudder.
Duo began spinning his head around and around and around.
“Stop that,” Heero commanded; he could undoubtedly tell what Duo was doing by the feel of the doll’s braid rhythmically running counterclockwise over his hand.
“Let me see your books!” Duo replied.
“I am going to make it my life’s work to find out what you have on your bookshelf, Heero Yuy,” Duo declared, finally ceasing his spinning. “You just wait.”
Heero chuckled triumphantly. “All right,” he said. Then he added, “How about the Oz series? Have you ever read those?”
“Aren’t those, like, kids’ books?”
“Um, yes,” Heero admitted, sounding a little embarrassed. “That’s mostly what I have.”
“What else do you have?”
“Well, there’s also the– wait, are you asking because you don’t like the idea of the Oz series, or are you just being sneaky?”
“You just wait,” Duo repeated, then laughed evilly. When he was finished with that he said, “But I have no objection to the Oz series. I’ve seen the movie, of course, and some other version that was a horrible, horrible cartoon with these hilarious songs in it…”
“OK,” said Heero, and a moment later they were returning to the living room. Heero replaced Duo on the end table, and himself on the couch, and now Duo could see The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in his hand. Heero too looked at it, at the very ugly illustration on its old paper cover, and smiled slightly. “I used to love these books, but I haven’t read them for years. I’m still pretty sure they’re not nearly as bad as any of the other series I used to read, though.”
“Other series such as?” Duo prompted.
Heero laughed, and made a great show of settling more comfortably into the couch cushions and opening the book. “‘Chapter one,'” he read: “‘The Cyclone.'”
The illustration above is by Link Worshiper.