Duo was done with jealousy mostly. Regular, human humans could eat, drink, breathe, sleep, smell, walk, and fuck, and Duo had spent more than enough time being jealous of it. He’d eventually decided he was simply done with the emotion.
However, seeing so handsome a man with as much hair as he’d had — proportionally speaking, as much hair as he still had — was enough to make him feel a little green. He missed the weight and sensation of his own hair, missed washing it and brushing it and braiding it, if not exactly more than the other physicalities he lacked at least more precisely than many of them. And this friend of Heero’s, this stunning, shining platinum blonde, was certain not to appreciate these privileges as well as he should.
Of course, with the way the two interacted, Duo guessed that plenty of appropriate appreciation came from the other, also excessively handsome man — the one whose eyebrows looked a little like those of that witchy Dorothy manager woman at Heero’s work — and not just appropriate appreciation of the hair alone. Both men appeared to be in their late thirties, and very, pointedly splendid in their matching tennis outfits.
“There you two are,” said the first as Heero and Quatre let themselves into the chain-link enclosure.
Quickly though Heero turned aside to move around the net and reach for a ball that already lay on the ground there, the others obviously caught sight of Duo anyway. The improbable blonde had evidently been about to say something else, but instead — and Duo could only tell by turning his head hard left — threw a confused frown in Quatre’s direction. Though Quatre was outside of his field of vision, Duo guessed there followed some sort of emphatic Don’t ask gesture; for with fabulous aplomb, the man went on smoothly, perhaps with what he’d originally been intending to say. “How are you two doing?”
“We’re great,” Quatre replied immediately. “How are you guys?” Heero was by now bouncing a ball on his racquet and facing the net, so Duo could see Quatre moving to a corresponding position on the other side.
“Answering for both of you now, are you, Quatre?” asked the one with the eyebrows in a warm, cultured voice. “Does that mean you two are finally dating?”
“No.” Heero spoke a good deal more lightly than Duo had been expecting. “But he does usually know how I’m doing.” And he served.
The conversation continued in a somewhat broken fashion as Heero and Quatre warmed up. Evidently last month’s tennis had been canceled, so these four hadn’t met in quite some time (which, Duo guessed, was the primary reason Heero hadn’t put off today’s get-together until some time when he didn’t have a doll grinning out of his polo pocket). The others wanted to know about various random aspects of the lives of Heero and Quatre, including a lot of boring business stuff, gossip about people whose names Duo didn’t recognize, and whether Heero was still driving the same ancient car.
They also had plenty to tell about their own doings, including some even more boring, largely financial business talk, more gossip about people Duo didn’t know, and accounts of recent luxurious indulgences that — even to Duo, whose concept of the current value of money was rather unclear — marked them as wealthier than anyone should really be allowed to be. He’d always vaguely understood that dentistry was a lucrative field, and this seemed to bear out that understanding, whatever they had to say about the flat economy.
And periodically, they would look at Duo. Duo could tell whenever this happened because a flicker of curious confusion would cross their faces like some sort of brief system malfunction in an otherwise very urbane program. They were obviously dying to know what was going on there, but complying for the moment with Quatre’s unspoken edict.
When a real game started — Duo’s friends on one side and the dazzlers on the other — things got more interesting. For one thing, Quatre either wasn’t very good at tennis or was way off his game today. And the other two guys kept congratulating each other every time something went their way because of this, which quickly became rather insufferable but did at least reveal their names: the improbable blonde was called ‘Mill,’ apparently, while the one with the eyebrows was ‘Treize.’ What kind of names these were Duo didn’t know… but, then, he’d never met anyone else named ‘Duo,’ either.
Positively the most engrossing thing about this tennis match, however, was being so close against Heero as the latter exerted himself, grew hot and sweaty, and breathed hard. Of course Duo could not actually feel any of this, but he was appreciating the hell out of the awareness of it while he had the chance. Beyond that, he thought there might be a market for chest-mounted sportscasting cameras; the game was far more interesting from this angle. Though that might just have been the aforementioned proximity to Heero, and you couldn’t really market that…
The two teams were nicely matched today, it seemed: this side handicapped by whatever was wrong with Quatre (though, for all Duo knew, he always played this badly), the others by their debilitating curiosity about Duo that kept their eyes lingering on him longer than they really should have been if they wanted to watch the ball. Only Heero was really on top of defense, but he couldn’t be everywhere, which meant that a lot of points were scored on both sides simply because nobody was able to prevent it.
They played two games, both of which Heero won, and declined by general agreement to play a third. Then all four of them headed at a leisurely pace back toward the building.
“Well,” said the one with the eyebrows as they walked, gesturing at the chest of Heero, who was at his side, “I don’t know how sportsmanlike this is, but it seems to be an effective strategy.”
“Maybe we should try it in the future,” put in the improbable blonde.
Duo couldn’t quite tell from here, but he thought Heero was actually smiling a bit as he replied, “I would be interested in seeing that.”
The one with the eyebrows laughed softly. “I can only imagine what everyone else would think. They’d probably take us for some exclusive clique.”
“‘The Dolls-on-Chest Society,'” suggested the improbable blonde. “‘The Docs’ for short.”
“Except that you and I are already ‘Docs.'” Eyebrowface’s tone was somewhat self-congratulatory at this.
Blondie indulged in their status right along with him. “We are indeed!”
“That reminds me,” Heero put in, probably hoping to change the subject and avoid ever having to explain Duo. “My sister’s looking for a new dentist — something about a crown or something. Treize, do you have a business card with you? Or can you just write down your office number so I can give it to her?”
“Of course I have business cards here; this place is my best advertising. I think almost all the members of this club are my patients.”
“I’ve fallen behind you there,” lamented the improbable blonde with a touch of drama to his tone. “I’ve only treated a few of them.”
“Not everyone needs braces, my dear,” replied the one with the eyebrows. “You know your percentages are much higher than mine at the local schools.”
“You make me sound like a pedophile.”
“I consider very little beyond you.”
Duo was laughing openly at this exchange. “I think these are the gayest guys I’ve ever met,” he remarked.
Heero gave a snorting laugh, and this pulled the others’ attention back onto him. “So is this a good luck charm or something?” asked the improbable blonde, gesturing in his turn to Duo.
The one with the eyebrows added before Heero could answer, “Or maybe he thinks it’s a boy magnet.”
“It certainly worked on Quatre, in that case–” the improbable blonde laid a hand on Quatre’s shoulder and gave him a teasing shake– “given that he ran right into him at least twice.”
“Oh, but Heero doesn’t need a magnet to attract Quatre, does he?” said the one with the eyebrows.
“You guys are impossible,” laughed Quatre.
By now they’d reached the changing rooms, and there was a lot of pulling out of fancy thick towels with gold embroidered letters going on. “Ooh, do I get to come into a giant communal shower with all of you guys?” Duo wondered in some excitement.
“Treize, I’m going to go shower at home,” was Heero’s indirect answer to this question. “I’ve got to be somewhere. So if you’ve got a card I can give my sister…”
“You don’t have to ‘be somewhere,'” scoffed Duo.
Heero was far enough away from his friends that were not in the know, and busy enough with changing clothes, that he was able to mutter, “Yes I do: at home,” without their hearing or at least questioning.
Super Eyebrow Man turned toward the locker from which he’d withdrawn the towel that was now draped over his shoulder. “I guess we’ll just have to interrogate Quatre,” he said pointedly as he came back out with a business card, which he moved to hand to Heero.
Quatre’s face took on an apologetic look. “Actually, I’m leaving too, as soon as I’m showered and changed; I’ve got some errands to run.”
Duo mimicked his own previous tone. “You don’t have ‘errands to run.’ You both just want to get out of here before you have to talk about me.” Quatre smiled, but smoothed it away almost immediately.
Mr. Sparklehair’s expression as he met the eyes under the strange eyebrows could only, Duo thought, have been described as ‘smarmy.’ “Looks like it’ll just be you and me for dinner, Treize,” he said.
“So it does, Mill,” replied the one with the eyebrows. “Maybe instead of the restaurant here we should just go home to eat. I seem to remember we didn’t finish all of that whipped cream from the other night.”
“That’s enough of that,” Heero said loudly. He was seated and leaning down to deal with his shoes, so Duo, lying on the bench beside him still safety-pinned to a polo shirt, could see his face: his smile looked like it had been formed out of all the component parts of a wince.
Triumphantly, the improbable blonde chuckled.