Heero awoke at a positively insane hour of the morning to, of all things, the sound of Trowa’s voice in his bedroom. That probably explained why he’d been dreaming of fighting Trowa, though not necessarily why they’d been wearing more tattoos than clothing and using spears. Now he sat up groggily, glaring at the clock until the numbers (and there were far too many sevens involved) came into focus, and said, “What the hell are you doing in here?”

“Poor grumpy Heero is rude,” said Duo cheerfully.

“Pardon me,” was Trowa’s stiff answer. “I didn’t mean to wake you up. I’ll go.” He’d been standing by the nightstand, undoubtedly having sneaked in here for a quiet conversation with Duo while Heero couldn’t hear them — only they’d gotten too loud — and now he turned toward the door.

Heero took a deep breath. He shouldn’t even be awake at this time on a Saturday, let alone having to deal with this kind of thing. But he tried to beat back his irritation and jealousy, and said, “No, don’t go. Finish your conversation.” And he returned to his previous position, putting his back to the other two so he wouldn’t have to look at them, and pulled the blanket up to his face.

“Isn’t he sweet?” Duo grinned. “OK, Trois, so, then this guy says, ‘And how is your first officer today?'” Duo’s imitation of Wufei’s inflection was spot-on.

“No, I’m going to go,” said Trowa firmly. “Heero, I am sorry I woke you up.”

Heero just grunted.

“Aww,” said Duo a moment later. “I didn’t get to finish telling him.” Concurrent with this remark, Heero heard the sound of Trowa’s door opening and closing out in the living room. Then, after a few moments of silence, Duo said quietly, “I wonder what’s going on with him…”

Turning again, Heero propped himself up on an elbow and looked at Duo where he sat on the nightstand behind the clock. He knew he probably didn’t really want to know, but he asked anyway. “What do you mean?”

Duo sounded very thoughtful as he answered, “He seemed really… agitated. But not in a bad way. Almost I’d say… well, except… I don’t know. He didn’t tell me anything that would explain it. He said he’s writing a book, but that’s nothing special…”

Reflecting that he’d been right — he really hadn’t wanted to hear all of that — Heero settled back down into bed again. “Well,” he forced himself to say, “you do only have three weeks of your curse left. That seems like a good reason to be happy.”

“But he was so different from just the last time I saw him on… I think it was Tuesday morning,” Duo mused. “I wonder what’s happened… and why he didn’t tell me…”

As Heero made no reply, Duo said nothing more, and Heero closed his eyes and relaxed for several minutes. He found, however, that the exchange had been enough to wake him beyond the point of no return. This was past the time he got up on weekdays, after all… dammit… He sat up and flung the blanket off of him in an abrupt, irritated movement.

“Whoa!” Duo exclaimed. “You startled the hell out of me!”

Heero rose and, seizing the doll without a word, stalked out to the kitchen.

Duo recovered quickly. “So, tennis today, huh?”

“Yes,” Heero said shortly.

“Do you want to know how I knew?” Again Duo imitated Wufei particularly well.

A little cheered, Heero replied, “Sure.”

“Apparently Quatre invited Trowa to come along,” Duo explained. “Not like there’s even the smallest chance he would, but I think he was happy about the invitation.”

Busying himself with coffee, Heero said nothing.

“Sooo….. Oz today?” Duo sounded hopeful as he partially repeated his previous statement.

This seemed like an excellent idea to Heero — and definitely one less likely to make him jealous than Duo talking about Trowa all day. “Yes,” he said. “Right after breakfast.”

Tennis was at two, and eventually Heero reached the point where he couldn’t put off deciding what to wear any longer. This was something that had plagued him in the past, since the athletic club all the others belonged to had certain unspoken dress standards even on the courts; though Heero was not about to wear the type of $250 designer shorts his friends did, he also didn’t want to make them look bad. So, rather painstakingly, he’d built up for these occasions a small collection of pieces that were both functional and relatively smart but hadn’t cost him an arm and a leg… but this time he had to accommodate Duo somehow, and cargo pants obviously weren’t going to work.

After much thought, he chose the one polo that had a breast pocket, and picked at the lower seams of the latter with a fork until there was a sizeable hole. Tests confirmed that Duo’s legs would fit through this so he could sit fairly securely in the pocket, but Heero wasn’t entirely confident; trying to ignore Duo’s fits of laughter at all of these proceedings, he went looking for a safety pin. When it turned out that his apartment was a completely safety-pin-free zone, he determined to leave early and stop somewhere on the way to get one.

Duo was in quite a good mood today, apparently, and was whistling as Heero drove. Heero liked to see him so happy, and tried not to think about the likelihood of its being due to Trowa’s appearance this morning. And the visit to the convenience store only improved Duo’s mood when the cashier that rang up Heero’s safety pins, catching sight of the doll riding in the pocket of his slacks, gave him a very strange look.

A membership at the Glazebrook West Athletic Club was nothing Heero had any interest in, despite the club’s growing reputation as a predominantly gay organization. Having three friends with memberships and guest passes was enough for regular tennis matches, and a YMCA was sufficient the rest of the time. This did mean, however, that Heero had to wait around in the parking lot for one of his friends to show up and get him in.

The sight of a familiar sky-blue Z4, its passengers evidently already having gone inside, indicated that it was Quatre he was waiting for this time, and Heero was somewhat surprised not to find his friend there before him. He turned his car off, rolled down his window, sat back, and explained to Duo what was going on.

“Not like Quatre to be late, is it?” Duo remarked.

Heero shook his head.

He’d seen little of Quatre over the last few days, and each time he had run into him, his friend had seemed very preoccupied; still, Heero doubted that Quatre had been hit with any kind of last-minute conflict to prevent his playing today — not only because Quatre would have called by now, but also because he’d made that odd invitation to Trowa.

About that Heero had to wonder, despite not really wanting to think more about Trowa than necessary. Had Quatre suggested Trowa magically pop into their tennis court, or did he have guest pass plans for him? Heero knew Quatre had been trying to pull Trowa out of reclusion somewhat; he didn’t know how successful that venture had been so far, but, based on what Duo had said this morning, Trowa wasn’t really ready for this kind of social interaction just yet.

But what if Trowa did magically pop into their tennis court? Jealousy or no jealousy, that thought was rather entertaining.

Quatre turned out to be only a few minutes late after all. When Heero saw him pulling into the next spot, he closed his window and gathered up Duo and his gym bag.

“Hi, guys!” Quatre greeted them cheerfully, hefting his own much nicer bag and locking up his car.

“Hi, Quatre!” Duo waved.

Quatre’s smiling gaze rose from Duo to Heero’s face, where it turned thoughtful. “How are you going to manage this?” he asked.

Before Heero could say anything, Duo answered for him almost smugly: “A specially-modified Duo-carrying shirt.”

“I can’t wait to see it,” Quatre grinned. Then he gave Heero another thoughtful look as they fell into step toward the entrance.

Heero could tell that Quatre was doing his absolute best… but evidently the sight of him in the changing room tucking Duo into his pocket, then pinning the back of Duo’s little uniform to his polo, was too much for Quatre; he turned away, his shoulders shaking, his breath coming in audible gasps.

“It’s OK, Quatre,” Duo condescended. “You can go ahead and laugh.”

“He doesn’t have my permission to laugh,” said Heero as he dug out his tennis racquet. “He has to get it OK’d by both of us.”

“Aww, Heero!” Duo exulted. “Are we making decisions together now?”

For once Heero was glad of Duo’s physical insensibility; otherwise, having him so close to his heart might have been something of a problem.

Quatre opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it again and shook his head minutely, a hugely amused expression still on his face. When he did eventually speak, all he said was, “Ready?”

Heero nodded. As they left the changing rooms and headed for the tennis courts, Heero steeled himself. People that frequented high-end clubs were often a little eccentric, but what they would make of someone with a Star Trek doll in his pocket he did not like to think. He wasn’t about to try to hide Duo, however; Duo had already had enough of that.

Thankfully, the number of double-takes he occasioned on the way out was minimal, but the real test was yet to come. For soon they were walking through the meticulously-cultivated shrubbery that surrounded the various outdoor sporting areas, and approaching the court where Zechs and Treize awaited them.

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