Apparently Heero’s psychic field was four feet, ten and a half inches wide on all sides; and apparently that inch and a half off the estimate was due to the fact that he had a certain innate level of control over his area of psychic influence. Among other things, Trowa had explained that untrained magic manifested differently in everyone, depending on personality, and remarked without offering any attempt at interpretation that Heero’s psychic field was simultaneously more withdrawn and more heavily-concentrated than it would have been if he hadn’t had magical ability. None of this information was really all that important, though, as the essential goal of keeping Duo as close to him as possible remained unchanged by it.
They had made it all the way to lunch without anyone remarking on Duo’s presence on his desk — despite at least two people having come to his cubicle — and that alone, Heero felt, was cause for celebration. Having nothing particularly special for lunch, however, and being completely unable to locate Quatre, the celebration consisted of sitting in his car with the windows down talking to Duo. Which was actually something very much like Heero’s idea of a perfect celebration.
“So I keep forgetting to tell you,” Duo was remarking as Heero bit into his sandwich. “If someone hasn’t ever picked me up, I can decide whether or not they hear it when I talk.”
“Really?” Heero wondered in some surprise.
“Yeah. I can move, too, as long as it’s nothing too big, and they won’t see it,” Duo elaborated. “It’s all about psychic field connection. So I can talk to you in front of your co-workers, just as long as they don’t pick me up. Although,” he added in his ‘grin’ tone, “you probably shouldn’t answer anything I say in front of anyone.”
“Yes, I…” Heero shook his head with a sardonic smile. “I figured that much out.” After dealing with another bite of sandwich he went on, “Well, this is good to know.”
“I know! I don’t know why I kept forgetting.”
“You were probably hoping to startle me out of my wits by announcing it in the middle of a conversation with three other people.”
Duo made an insulted noise. “Would I do that to you?”
Heero gave him a skeptical look, but what he said was, “I like to think not.”
With a chuckle, Duo changed the subject. “Well, so far it looks like you’ve got about the most boring job in the world.”
“Maybe… but I do make fifty-five thousand a year,” Heero shrugged.
“God!” If Duo had been human, this exclamation would undoubtedly have been accompanied by his sitting up abruptly straight from a slouch in the passenger seat. “Do you know what I made at my last job?”
“I can’t even begin to guess.”
“Twenty dollars a week!”
“What did things cost back then, though?” Heero wondered reasonably.
He didn’t know what he was asking; he had no idea that such a casual, innocent question could lead to his being late back from lunch. But apparently changing economic conditions and inflation were extremely interesting. Either that or Duo was. In any case, Heero didn’t even think about the time until a figure appeared outside the car and a blonde head bent down to grin at him through the window and interrupt what he was saying with, “Afraid to go back inside, are we?”
Heero started slightly at this, glanced at the clock, then back at Quatre. “Speak for yourself,” he said, beginning to gather up the soda can and Ziplocs that had been lying between the seats and stuffing them into the bag he used for trash. “Where have you been?”
“Trowa’s house,” replied Quatre complacently, “and, yes, I’m late too.”
“Just Trowa’s house?” Duo wondered as Heero reached past him to close the passenger side window. “Nowhere exciting today?”
“Nope,” Quatre confirmed. He withdrew from the window to allow its closing, then stepped back as Heero emerged from the car with Duo in his hand. “So how are you guys doing?”
“Not too badly,” was Heero’s cautious answer. He still felt like everything must blow up in his face at any time, and didn’t want to jinx it into happening sooner. After locking his door and pocketing his keys, he turned to join Quatre walking into the building. Perhaps, he was reflecting, it would be a good idea in the future not to sit in this parking lot… he’d been so distracted by his conversation with Duo that he’d let Quatre walk right up and hear them. If it had been someone else, someone not in on their little secret, Heero would have had some explaining to do.
“So nobody’s given you hell yet?” Quatre was wondering. “Nobody’s tried to steal you, Duo?”
“I am quite a steal,” Duo admitted in a tone of facetious arrogance. “But I don’t think anyone’s even noticed me yet.”
“Was it just me,” Heero remarked conversationally to Quatre, “or did he sound disappointed when he said that?”
“Hey, you’d be disappointed too,” protested Duo, “if you looked this fabulous and then people didn’t notice.”
“I think you’ve just been insulted, Heero,” Quatre said.
“Who says he was talking to me?” was Heero’s deadpan retort.
In a very serious tone Duo reassured them, “I think both of you look extra-special super-fabulous.”
Quatre laughed. Heero rolled his eyes. And after this, following a brief confirmation of their NCAA Championship plans for that evening, it was time for them to go their separate ways.
Heero had made a place for Duo on his desk between the “This is my smiley face” coffee cup in which he kept pens and the calendar that provided a tired Happy Bunny statement for every day of the year (both gifts), and this left the doll visible in the corner of his eye when he faced his computer. He liked that, but tried to remind himself not to get too used to it. It was far too easy to objectify Duo when Duo was, in fact, an object, but Duo wouldn’t be in this state forever.
“So what’s on the work menu for this afternoon?” Duo wondered once they were both settled.
After telling him about the San Jose office that was testing a new sales program the company was working on alongside a software developer, Heero explained, “As Sales Coordinator, I get to work with the transactions made in this new system to see how they integrate with our existing programs. I’m going to take a look at what they did this morning.”
“Oh, wow,” remarked Duo. “That sounds really, um…” He paused as if searching for the right word, but never actually said it. For at that moment someone approached Heero’s cubicle from the sales floor.
It was Sylvia. “Heero,” she began before she even reached him, “you remember the Arons thing from, like, 08? I know it went through; I was there; but for some reason I just cannot find it… anywhere… in… the… Is that a Ken doll?”
“It’s got a double ‘a,'” Heero said, utterly ignoring the spoken question and answering the one she hadn’t completed. “A-a-r-o-n-s.”
“Oh, that explains…” She shook her head as if to get rid of something stuck to it, and her ponytail bounced vigorously from side to side. “Seriously, Heero, why do you have a Ken doll on your desk?”
Heero looked over at Duo, whose stiff little grin, he thought, was a touch wider than usual. “Because I feel like it,” he said stonily.
“Okaaaay…” She was obviously stifling laughter as she turned to walk away without thanking him for the information.
Why had he said that? He’d had an excuse all ready — not a very good one, probably, but better than “Because I feel like it” — but somehow found himself unable to use it. Well, the problem was that her tone had been just a little teasing, in addition to innocently curious, so Heero had gotten defensive. The list of people from whom he accepted teasing was incredibly short.
“Very smooth,” Duo remarked. And how had he gotten onto the list so quickly? It had taken Relena, Heero’s own sister, thirteen years.
“Oh, shut up,” Heero replied, entirely without malice.