Heero had some cleaning to do on Sunday, to which he had honestly been looking forward more than to the dinner with his parents in the evening. It was good practice making sure he was aware at all times of where Duo was, and at remembering to pick him up and move him whenever he needed to go into another part of the apartment. It was nice having Duo around, too, as he worked, although their ongoing conversation was often broken when Duo’s little voice just couldn’t rise high enough to overcome the normal noises of cleaning. And once everything was spotless (or at least most of the apartment looked better), it was time for a shower.

“Do I get a shower too?” Duo wondered hopefully.

“You don’t need one,” Heero replied.

“It wasn’t me getting clean that I was really thinking of,” said Duo, managing to sound coy and licentious at the same time.

“You sitting outside the door worked just fine earlier.”

“Well, yeah, I’m not interested in toilet business.” Now the tone was ‘righteous indignation’ mixed with ‘shudder.’ “A shower is totally different.”

Heero laughed, set Duo down just outside the bathroom door, and closed the latter against the doll’s further protests.

Having given a lot of thought to what was asked of him for the coming month — both last night while he lay awake in bed with his eyes closed, pretending to sleep, and today on and off while he cleaned — he’d foreseen the shower question arising, and had considered letting Duo sit on the bathroom counter facing away from him. He had found, however, that he couldn’t bear the thought of getting his business done in the shower in the presence of the unavailable, inhuman guy he had a crush on — especially when that guy (in hypothetical human form) figured increasingly in his thoughts at those moments, and even if that guy ostensibly wasn’t looking.

Right now, as he stood under the hot water and felt the sweat and cleaning products of the last couple of hours wash off his skin, his considerations were following a different track. He was thinking about that brief exchange they’d just had, and how interesting it was (and not really in a good way) that Duo flirted constantly with both Heero and Quatre but never with Trowa.

Heero was about as far from being flirtatious by nature as anyone he knew, but somehow with Duo it was easy. Conversation in general was easy with Duo. Duo even made him laugh. He didn’t laugh with most other people, but with Duo it happened frequently. Heero wondered whether all of this was simply because he liked Duo or because Duo, not being human, failed to set off some kind of subconscious alarm in Heero’s head that went off for most of the rest of the world and caused him to stiffen up. Then, maybe it was because Duo didn’t set off the alarm that Heero liked him in the first place.

Thinking about Duo too much in the shower was going to get him in trouble one of these days, especially as things now stood… but thoughts about Duo’s nature and how it had been affecting Heero almost couldn’t help but lead to other reflections… such as a recurring daydream about a human Duo and what he would be like. Which was, in Heero’s mind, the same as the Duo he knew now — the same fascinating mix of casualness and intensity, the same silly carelessness atop intelligence sharp as a knife — but with a knockout body to match. And to such imaginings there was only one possible end. Which was why he really couldn’t have Duo in here while he showered.

Once he was clean (physically), he dried off and wrapped the towel around his waist before leaving the bathroom. And as he bent down to retrieve Duo from the floor, the doll wolf-whistled at him. If Heero managed not to blush — not necessarily at Duo’s teasing reaction to his nudity, but at receiving such a gesture at all from someone about whom he’d been actively fantasizing not five minutes before — it was only because he was so surprised. “I didn’t know you could whistle,” he said.

“Neither did I, until just now,” replied Duo in his ‘shrug’ tone. “I guess necessity really is the mother of invention.”

Heero snorted. “So it was necessary for you to whistle at me?”

“Yeah…” said Duo slowly, pensively. Then, as if he’d thought it through carefully and come to a conclusion, he repeated with more surety, “Yeah. There are some things words just don’t work for.” He started whistling again, seemingly experimentally; at first it was a patternless meandering of notes, but eventually it turned into something that sounded a bit like the intro from Knight Rider (not that Heero planned on admitting he recognized it). Listening to the little sound, which was thin and high like a bird’s song, Heero looked through his closet, abstractedly considering what he should wear.

“That is the greatest thing ever,” Duo declared, breaking off whistling. “I wonder how long I’ve been able to do that.”

“If you could do it all along,” Heero ventured, “you would probably have noticed before now.”

“I think you’re right,” agreed Duo cheerfully. “So it was probably all you.”

Heero set Duo down on the dresser and began looking for clean underwear. “So necessity wasn’t really the mother at all.”

“No,” Duo replied, affecting a serious tone worthy of a soap opera. “It was you all along. You were the mother of my invention, Heero.”

And there Duo had made him laugh again. It was almost uncanny. Heero stepped back into the closet to get dressed.

“Well, now the apartment’s cleaned up,” he said when he emerged, “we’ve got a few hours to kill before dinner.”

“We could watch TV,” Duo suggested as Heero picked him up, but at the expression immediately turned down upon him went on hastily, “No, I’m kidding, I’m kidding! Don’t kill me!”

“I’m going to find something to eat,” Heero said. “Then maybe we can finish Ozma or something.”

“Oh, good idea,” agreed Duo. “I’ve gotta know what happens.”

Heero smiled slightly and headed for the kitchen.

Interruptions for tangental discussion dragged out their finishing the third Oz book until nearly six o’clock, at which time Heero picked Duo up again and frowned down at him. “It’s about time to go,” he said, and wasn’t really surprised to find his tone somewhat surly.

“And don’t you sound excited,” Duo sympathized. “Why are you looking at me like that.”

“Listen… I’m sorry about this…” Heero sighed. “I can’t… I can’t carry you in there. I’ve thought about it, and I just can’t take a doll to my parents’ house and try to explain it to my mother. You’re going to have to go in my pocket.” He touched one of the cargo pockets on the pants he’d chosen earlier for this very purpose.

“Why are you apologizing?” Duo chuckled a little, apparently half amused and half bitter. “It’s not like I don’t understand.”

“Well, look. This is the only situation where I ever plan on doing this to you. Everywhere else, even work, I plan on keeping you out in the open. But I just don’t think I can face walking into my parents’ house with you in my hand. And I want you to know that’s because you’re a doll, and because things are the way they are with my parents, not because it’s you.”

“I…” Duo at a loss for words was a rare sight, and even now it only seemed to last a moment. Heero wished very much that Duo’s range of facial expressions was greater, because he would have liked to know exactly why his statement had had this effect. As it was, the moment passed and they were back to the usual meaningless flirtation: “So otherwise you wouldn’t mind taking me to meet your parents, huh?”

“That’s right.” Heero smiled faintly. “So it’s really OK to put you in my pocket?”

“You’ll probably have to bend me over,” Duo told him suggestively.

Heero rolled his eyes, but he was still smiling. “Sometimes you try too hard.”

“I’m aaalllllways hard,” Duo drawled, which Heero supposed was perfectly true. “Now help me get into your pants!”

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