Duo saw now what it was that Heero had been afraid of, though the flood of attention and Heero’s reaction to it, after the blonde woman had left and undoubtedly told everyone in the world what she’d discovered, was a little different than what Duo had expected.

The first one’s excuse was something business-related, but she dropped it almost immediately when Heero pointed out that she’d asked him precisely the same question before lunch. “OK,” she confessed, “I just came to see if Sylvia was lying or what. You really do have a Ken doll on your desk!”

Heero just stared at her, expressionless, and she didn’t seem to have the nerve to formulate an actual question. She just looked down at Duo, giggling, for several moments, then retreated.

“I thought you were going to present some reasonable excuse,” Duo said as he watched her disappear from his view.

“Maybe,” replied Heero darkly and cryptically.

The second curious co-worker, not half an hour later, was a pretty, pale lady with glossy black hair the style of which reminded Duo a bit of Trowa’s. She came and leaned against the edge of the cubicle wall, looking in at Duo silently with a mysterious little smile. Her gaze might almost have been called ‘calculating’ if not for the amusement in it.

“This one’s kinda starting to creep me out,” Duo confessed after a minute or so of her staring and Heero stubbornly ignoring her.

Heero started a little; it was the first practical reminder that Duo could talk to him in front of people, after all. But then he turned to face the woman abruptly and said, “Yes?” somewhat snappishly.

“It’s interesting what the contents of someone’s desk say about them, isn’t it?” she mused. “It’s like a little biography.”

“Are you on the clock?”


“Then you shouldn’t be on the floor.”

“Yes,” she conceded, “you’re probably right.” And she continued to stare impudently at Duo. Finally she asked casually, “So is it a character from something?”

“He’s–” Heero began, evidently before he could stop himself, and then stopped himself. “Break room,” he commanded.

She raised a finely-penciled eyebrow. “OK, OK,” she said, and sauntered off.

“Weren’t you going to tell people I was a present or something?” Duo wondered idly.

“Yes,” Heero sighed, “but…”

Duo waited, but the explanation didn’t come. Heero had gone back to his computer with a closed-off expression, and Duo thought he could see why the co-workers were a little hesitant to ask him at least certain questions. What he still couldn’t quite see was Heero’s reluctance to answer.

The third woman to appear was already giggling as she entered the cubicle, and this, Duo thought, accounted for the set of Heero’s jaw as he turned to face her.

“Hee hee, he’s so cute!” she was saying. “Look at his little shoes!”

Heero did not reply, only looked doom. Duo had the feeling that the woman’s original intention had been to reach out and pick him up, but under Heero’s malignant eye she kept her hands to herself. She did ask, however, “What’s his name?”

Heero continued to stare at her for a long moment, then finally said, “Did you have some work-related question, Carol?”

Carol giggled again and bounced away.

“Heero, I don’t think it would kill you to tell them some of these things,” Duo grinned once she was gone.

“It’s none of their business,” Heero muttered.

“Yeah, but you being mysterious about it isn’t going to make them less curious.” Really, Duo was more amused than anything else to find that Heero seemed to consider these innocent questions too personal to be answered despite the fact that he’d come specifically ready to answer them.

After muttering something else unintelligible, Heero went back to what he’d been doing.

Duo was getting the impression that, whatever else ‘Sales Coordinator’ implied, Heero was the go-to guy for the entire sales team, however big that was. Evidently he knew everything that went on in this department throughout the whole Pacific Division (whatever that was), and his computer was like an all-knowing oracle’s pool: an endless supply of information from which any question could be answered if Heero didn’t already know off the top of his head.

Thus it was no surprise, when someone approached him asking something largely incomprehensible about ‘the deal with Tri-Bluestein,’ that Heero knew exactly where to look for the answer and found it in about ten seconds. But Duo watched this time with greater attention than he had when people had asked Heero things this morning; he was more interested now in Heero’s relationship with his co-workers.

Provided there was actual business involved in the exchange, not just people coming to giggle at Duo, Heero wasn’t exactly rude, but he certainly didn’t waste words. His manner was withdrawn, professional in a cool sort of way, and utterly impersonal. Duo was under the impression that Heero had worked here for three or four years and had been in his current position for at least two, but evidently this didn’t translate into any sort of closeness whatsoever with his co-workers.

Slowly it was beginning to dawn on Duo that perhaps the Heero he’d been getting to know, the one he so enjoyed messing around, the one he discussed Oz books with, the one that had played selections from a dozen CD’s for him in an attempt to expand his musical horizons, the one that had agreed to this month of silliness for his sake, was not necessarily the Heero the rest of the world got to see. This Heero was more like the one Duo had met at first and that had emerged again to some extent at his parents’ house: the quiet, suspicious one that was obviously much happier to avoid people than deal with them.

This revelation couldn’t be anything but pleasant. He’d been worrying about Heero’s walls without realizing he was past at least one of them already. And while he definitely wasn’t complaining, he wondered how on earth it had happened.

“Heero!” By the sound of it, here was another encroacher curious and not legitimate. She did have an excuse, though. “Can you email me the information on the convention in San Francisco? You have it, don’t you?”

“Didn’t Dorothy give it to you already?” Heero asked suspiciously, though he’d already started getting it for her even as he said this.

“I lost it,” she said cheerfully.

“You did not,” replied Duo equally cheerfully, although she couldn’t hear him.

She could, however, take advantage of Heero’s distraction to turn on Duo. “He doesn’t look like an actual Ken,” she remarked without preamble. “I had, like, four Kens when I was a kid; they never made them with that much hair even when they had actual hair.”

“She’s right,” Duo acknowledged.

Heero had nothing to add, and didn’t seem to be paying attention. As the woman reached down toward Duo, however, Heero’s hand was suddenly there, blocking her access to the doll, without seeming to have moved. And finally he volunteered some information. “He’s a collector’s item.”

“Special edition,” Duo advised.

“Special edition,” Heero repeated flatly.

“Oh,” said the woman, withdrawing her hand. “So why do you–”

“I sent your information,” interrupted Heero in a tone of finality.

“OK, thanks,” replied she, making an impressively businesslike recovery. And she turned on her heel and departed.

Duo watched her thoughtfully, then said, “I’ve got an idea.”

“Yeah?” said Heero.

“Well, that gal earlier with the eyeshadow–”

“Noin,” Heero interjected, without having to ask for any more details of appearance than that.

“Well, Noin,” Duo went on, “asked if I was a character from something. So, what if I was? Wouldn’t it be easier to put me in, like, a Star Trek uniform or something and just let everyone think you’re a big Star Trek fan? It’d be an easy explanation, if you felt like explaining at all… and if you didn’t, well, it’d still be kinda obvious on its own, because I’d be sitting here in a Star Trek uniform.”

Heero raised an eyebrow. “I think you just want a Star Trek uniform.”

“Um, maybe,” Duo admitted.

“Anyway, don’t you think it’s a bit late for that?” Heero was frowning pensively now, obviously giving the suggestion more thought than he had a moment before. “You’ve been sitting here all day.”

“Well, there has to be someone who hasn’t come to stare at me yet… besides, it’s not like you’ve answered anyone’s questions…”

Heero continued to look thoughtful, but he didn’t say anything for several moments. Finally he admitted, “It’s not a bad idea…” He turned back to his computer. “Let’s see what we can find…”

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