Relena picked up just when Heero was sure the call was going to go to voicemail. “Hey, Heero,” she greeted him.

“Hi,” Heero replied, and went on in Japanese. “I called to tell you Duo got your invitation.”

“Wow, really?” Relena complied with his oblique request not to speak English. “Already?”

“Yeah. I wanted you to know how much he appreciates it. I don’t think he’s ever been invited to a wedding before, and he says he hasn’t gotten mail in ninety years.”

“I thought that might be the case. I thought it would be nice for him to have something happy to look forward to going to with regular people once he’s not a doll anymore.”

Said doll was making frustrated noises at not being able to understand anything Heero was saying, waving his arms in odd patterns in the air.

“Yes, definitely,” Heero agreed, smiling at Duo’s antics. “It means a lot to him. You don’t realize how happy you’ve made him.”

“And that makes you happy,” Relena guessed, sounding smug.

“Yes,” admitted Heero.

“And you’re talking to me in Japanese because you haven’t told him yet that you like him and you’re embarrassed to say this kind of thing in front of him.”

To be honest, Heero was a little embarrassed even to be saying it in Japanese, and had turned half away from Duo to hide his face. “Anyone listening to you would think you’d grown up with me,” he said with dry humor.

She chuckled. “I thought so.”

“Whenever you Japs are finished with your top secret conversation,” Duo said loudly, “I want to talk to Relena!”

“Whenever you plastic dolls are finished with your racial slurs,” Heero retorted, “maybe I’ll let you.”

“Oh,” said Duo. “Is that a…” He paused for a moment. “I guess it is. Sorry!”

“You even lived through World War II. You should know this.”

“Yeah, but at that point I was busy raising a family of stuffed animals bigger than I was with a porcelain doll named Shirley!” Duo protested. “But, still, I’m sorry. I’ll never say it again.”

Relena was laughing. “I’m only hearing bits and pieces of this, but it sounds wonderful.”

“He wants to talk to you.”

“Well, let him!”

Heero looked down at Duo solemnly.

“I’m really sorry.” By now Duo sounded a little distressed. “I promise I won’t say it again.”

It was impossible to keep up a stern expression when faced with a penitently worried Duo, and Heero hadn’t actually been much offended anyway. “It’s OK,” he said with smile, and lowered the phone to the doll’s level, placing it in what he thought would be the best position for the hearing and being heard of those involved in the subsequent conversation.

“Hi, Relena!” was Duo’s greeting.

“What’s this I hear you calling me?” Heero heard his sister say.

“I’m sorry!” Duo wailed.

She laughed, and said something else Heero couldn’t make out.

“Well, I wanted to say thanks for the invitation. Thanks a lot. I’ll definitely come, in one shape or another. I mean, I should be human by then, but you never know. Either way, I don’t know if I’ll have anything appropriate to wear.”

Relena seemed to answer with something to the purpose of Heero being surely able to find Duo a tuxedo.

“Yeah, but it may have to be a human-size tux, and he can’t be spending that much money on me.”

Heero thought he gladly could be, but didn’t say so.

“Well, maybe Heero can find you a job too,” Relena suggested, and went on to say something about the company Heero worked for only hiring people that were best friends with someone that already worked there. Heero snorted.

“Now there’s an idea,” said Duo thoughtfully. “I could keep that nerd guy from bothering Heero all the time…”

Relena said something else Heero didn’t catch.

“I will!” Duo replied heartily. “Right now! Oh, but first, I needed to ask you to marry me.”

Something in an amused tone from Relena was followed up by, “You meet me in the church on July tenth, and we’ll see what happens.”

“That’s good enough for me!” Duo grinned. “And, seriously, thanks again for the invite.”

“You’re very welcome. Put my brother back on, would you?”

Heero returned the phone to his own ear. “Here I am.”

Bluntly, though in Japanese, Relena asked, “Any particular reason you haven’t told this guy how you feel about him?”

Heero answered just as bluntly in the same language. “He’s in love with his friend.”

“The one with the psycho eyes who lives behind the door in your living room wall?” Relena sounded surprised. “That’s funny… I got the impression he and Quatre…”

“Yeah, there’s that too. It’s a little complicated.”

“Well, I’m sorry about that. I was watching you guys the other night, and I thought… well, that’s too bad.”

“I’ve been telling myself it doesn’t matter,” said Heero firmly. “Duo’s a good friend, and I wouldn’t want to lose that. I can be happy with that.”

“Oh, Heero,” she half laughed and half sighed. “You can keep telling yourself that right up until it starts to hurt, but then I expect you to get out of the situation, OK? Don’t be a masochist.”

“OK, fine,” he replied in much the same tone. He didn’t feel like admitting that it already hurt.

“And, seriously, if you don’t find a steady boyfriend, mama’s never going to stop plotting to make a grandchild-fathering straight man out of you.”

“Well, when are you going to tell her that you and Colin aren’t planning on kids?”

Now Relena gave a sigh that held no amusement whatsoever. “I don’t know. I haven’t had the nerve yet. It’s going to make her so unhappy.”

“I know that feeling.”

She gave a somewhat bitter laugh. “Well, I’ll talk to you whenever, and we’ll see what we’ve come up with by then.”

“Thanks again for inviting Duo,” Heero said.

Her laugh was more pleasant now. “I’ve never been thanked so much for anything before! He must really be happy about it!”

“You have no idea,” said Heero sincerely. He didn’t think he completely understood Duo’s happiness at this, and he’d watched it build.

They said their goodbyes and hung up, and Heero replaced his phone in his pocket. Then he looked down at Duo again.

“So do you think I really could get a job where you work, once the curse is broken?” was Duo’s immediate query.

Heero went back to sorting the mail. “Possibly.”

“What exactly do all those people I’ve met up there do?” Duo wondered next. “Besides asking you a million questions.”

So Heero explained about the sales team’s various functions, the job requirements, the training, and the fact that having a friend working there really was a good way to get hired yourself. And through it all he tried to brace himself for this actually happening. Having human Duo around him at work every day was an ambivalent prospect.

But he’d meant what he’d told his sister: Duo’s friendship was valuable enough to him that he didn’t want to push him away, even if the resultant closeness that wasn’t quite everything he wanted threatened to drive him insane. And as a friend, he would do whatever he could to make sure Duo’s new life as a human went well. He would help him land on his feet; he would get him a job, if he could; he would help him find a home and start living again; he would assist in whatever way Duo needed. He would tell him in the kindest possible manner that Trowa didn’t love him anymore. Just as soon as he figured out how.

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