Sunday was a very lazy day, beginning with Heero sleeping in until around eleven, continuing with some actual watching of TV for once and then some reading aloud, and eventually leading to looking up funny things on the internet while listening to that favorite band of Heero’s again. A visit from Trowa in the afternoon was the one thing (apart from Duo suddenly finding himself human again twenty-two days early, of course) that could have made the day pretty much perfect.

Trowa still seemed inexplicably happier than he had for most of the time since Duo had been reunited with him, and still didn’t seem inclined to mention why; but Duo, remembering Quatre’s poor performance on the tennis court yesterday, now at least had a theory. Even in this current good mood, Trowa was obviously a little too fragile for much teasing, so Duo wasn’t going to mention it if Trowa wasn’t — but he was on the watch.

What made this particularly interesting was the insight Duo had received yesterday into Quatre’s controlling nature, which he thought he could see now that Heero had pointed it out, but which he might not otherwise have noticed for a while. By coincidence, Duo had just been thinking that what Trowa really needed in his life at this stage was someone to take charge of him, to order things for him, to insist that he did what was healthy and didn’t do anything guiltily self-destructive. And now Trowa was happier and Quatre was distracted… Well, it could still mean nothing. But somebody was going to have to be teased about it at some point.

At the moment, Duo was being introduced to the glorious world of lolcats, a style of humor he found, somewhat to his embarrassment, right up his alley. Granted, Heero was also amused, but evidently this was more at Duo’s amusement than at the actual ‘entertainment.’ At least laughter was something Duo had never had a problem with as a doll, though it probably would have been a good deal louder if he’d been human.

When somebody knocked at the apartment door, Heero muttered, “I thought I saw Quatre go into Trowa’s house earlier…” He rose, picked up Duo, and headed out to answer, obviously thinking it odd to have a non-Quatre visitor on a Sunday evening.

Duo was amused at the picture this painted of Heero’s social life (not that it came as any surprise). After confirming Heero’s assumption about Quatre, he added in a deliberately bitter tone, “And unless we both fell asleep, he hasn’t come back out yet.”

Heero tucked Duo’s legs into his jeans pocket as he approached the door; he looked through the little hole, and all Duo could see was the door itself close to his face. “Oh,” said Heero.

“Who is it?” Duo asked unnecessarily.

Opening the door, Heero disclosed the figure of a woman, who greeted him with a cheerful, “Hi, Heero,” and stepped immediately inside. Her Asian features looked vaguely familiar, though Duo had never seen her before, and her voice was one he’d heard while he’d been bent double inside Heero’s pocket a week ago.

“Hi,” Heero replied, moving quickly out of the way of both his sister and the large cardboard box she carried. Then he shut the door behind her and turned to watch her place her burden on the kitchen counter. “What’s that?”

“Things I’m getting rid of that I thought you might want,” Relena replied. She laughed as she added, “The only time I ever go through things and get rid of stuff I don’t need is when I move.”

Duo heard the smile in Heero’s answer, “Same here.”

Relena had reached into the box, and now held up some strange device Duo didn’t recognize. “You have the same model vacuum I do, don’t you? Didn’t mama buy them both at the same time?”

“Yes,” Heero replied, reaching out to take the object. “Don’t you use this?”

“No, never, and it’s just wasting space. Can you use it?”

“Well, I already have one…”

“I’ll just take it to Goodwill, then,” Relena shrugged. She took whatever it was — some kind of vacuum attachment, presumably — from him again and replaced it in the box. “Then there’s this…” She started to lift something else out, but at that moment, looking back over at her brother, she caught sight of Duo. Pausing in her movement, then straightening and removing empty hands from the box, she stared at him with that faintly confused expression Duo was so accustomed to. “Heero… why do you have a… Barbie doll? in your pocket?”

Duo couldn’t really see Heero’s face from here, but the sound of his sigh was simultaneously defeated and amused. “It’s a…” He lifted his hands in a helpless gesture. “It’s a long story.”

Relena leaned back against the counter, crossing her arms. “OK. I’ve got time.”

Heero’s little laugh was just as helpless as his previous gesture. “Longer than that, even. You’ll probably want to sit down.”

“Wow, are you really going to tell her?” Duo was surprised. He’d gotten the feeling Heero was quite fond of his sister, but hadn’t thought things would come to this.

“Yes,” Heero answered him aloud.

“‘Yes’ what?” wondered Relena.

Again Heero gave that defeated little chuckle. “Come sit down.”

With a skeptical look, she did as he said, accompanying him to the couch. “You know, the other reason I came over was just to say I was so sorry about mama the other night. But if she sees you carrying around a Barbie doll, I don’t know what she’ll do.”

Heero sighed. “You don’t have to apologize for her. It’s not your fault.”

“Yes, but I feel partly responsible when she’s trying to set you up with my roommate, or get you to buy my car. She’s really too much sometimes!”

Heero pulled Duo from his pocket as he settled into one corner of the couch, and held him on his lap. (As an aside, Duo liked being on Heero’s lap, and thought he really must try it again as soon as he was human.) “Don’t worry about it. She’ll calm down eventually, once you guys are all settled and the wedding’s over.”

“I hope so. So tell me about this doll.”

“This,” Heero said seriously, lifting Duo up to chest height, “is Duo Maxwell. Duo, say hi to my sister.”

So obviously they really were going to do this. With a grin and a wave, Duo said, “Hi, Relena. Good to meet you for real at last.”

She didn’t even start, only tilted her head slightly with another, very skeptical look and said in a tone to match, “Douzo yoroshiku, Duo-san.”

“I have no idea what that means,” Duo replied cheerfully.

“Duo was once human, but he’s been cursed to live as a doll,” Heero broke in, in the flattest voice Duo had ever heard from him, before Relena could supply any more Japanese sarcasm. “To break the curse, he has to stay within five feet of me for a month. We’re eight days in.”

For a long, long moment, Relena just stared, and Duo thought she was torn between laughter and reaching out to take Heero’s temperature. Finally she reached out instead to take Duo, with whom Heero parted only reluctantly. Then Duo found himself closely examined by eyes the same color but not nearly as attractive as Heero’s.

“You will find,” he said, “that I am very good-looking. Also notice the awesome Starfleet uniform, which was a present from your brother because he is awesome.” He added with a little sigh as Relena began turning him over and scrutinizing his joints, “Also, I have no speakers or wires or anything. It’s easier if you just accept that.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Relena said at last, slowly. “This is so out there that I have a hard time even thinking it’s a joke, but…”

“It’s not a joke.” In a somewhat peremptory movement, Heero took Duo back and put him in his lap again. “A while back, I was coming out of work, and I saw Duo lying in the gutter……”

The story took some time to tell, since Relena fairly constantly demanded clarification and a greater level of detail than Heero was providing (and because Duo had to put in his two cents’ worth at every opportunity), and when it was over she still had that somewhat stunned look of disbelief and concern on her face.

“Well,” she said finally. “This was not at all what I expected when I came over here tonight.”

“I can’t say I ever expected any of this,” Heero replied mildly.

Relena took a deep breath. “OK, so. Magic is real, you’re living with a guy who was turned into a Barbie doll a hundred years ago, and that door over there–” she gestured at Trowa’s door, which she hadn’t noticed until Heero had pointed it out to her– “opens onto some other guy’s house on the east coast.”

Heero nodded.

“She’s taking it better than you did,” Duo remarked. He most particularly liked Relena’s use of the phrase ‘living with a guy.’

“Especially for getting it all at once,” agreed Heero at a murmur.

Abruptly Relena stood and turned toward aforementioned door. “OK,” she said. “Let’s just see about that.”

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