Trowa came to visit Duo on Sunday morning, and, though Heero took almost no part in their conversation, still he watched the two of them like a hawk. He saw exactly what Duo had been talking about a week ago: Trowa was definitely more animated, apparently more happy, than he had been earlier in their acquaintance; and the quiet bitterness that Heero remembered as underlying everything Trowa said seemed diminished, at least slightly. Quatre had that effect on people.
If Heero was any judge, Trowa was also trying to bring himself to tell Duo something specific — and if Heero was any judge, he knew exactly what this was. Trowa never quite got it out, however, and Heero couldn’t even be very annoyed at him for it. Though he couldn’t really comprehend falling out of love with Duo once in, it was not logically impossible to believe that after eighty-seven years of separation Trowa’s feelings had changed… and if Heero thought he would have a hard time telling Duo this, it must seem even more difficult for Trowa himself.
Oddly enough, this actually made Heero like Trowa a little better. That neither of them had the guts to say what needed to be said to poor Duo was pathetic, but that their mutual desire was to avoid hurting Duo — especially now that Heero knew they weren’t rivals — could only bring them closer.
Heero watched Duo too, and not to any particularly pleasant enlightenment. Duo was consistently gentler and more serious with Trowa; it wasn’t that he completely abandoned the more energetic and fun aspects of his personality, but rather that he toned them down as if specifically in response to Trowa’s general solemnity. He didn’t tease Trowa; he didn’t flirt with Trowa; he hardly even made jokes. While Heero could understand that this was possibly the best way to deal with Trowa, he didn’t like to see Duo feeling that he couldn’t be himself around someone — especially someone he loved — for whatever reason.
Trowa looked discernibly surprised when Heero smiled at him as he left. Heero doubted Trowa had any illusions about what Heero’s attitude toward him had been thus far, which was unfortunate… the guy was Heero’s best friend’s boyfriend; things shouldn’t be prickly between them.
“He’s definitely getting better,” Duo said with satisfaction, looking after Trowa at the door in the wall. “He was so miserable and… kinda dead before… he seems a lot happier now. I’m really glad.”
“OK, now Star Wars!” Duo had invited Trowa to watch the remaining five movies with them, but Trowa had declined the offer with disinterest that verged on horror. “Time to find out more about the stupid kid and the obnoxious floppy guy!”
“Let me grab breakfast first,” said Heero in some amusement, and then yawned. “You two and your early weekend hours…”
“Hey, I am a sleeper-in when I can actually sleep.” Duo delivered this announcement proudly, as if it were a serious accomplishment, which made Heero laugh a little. “Course that might have changed; I don’t know. And also it might just have been because I had insomnia most nights and couldn’t fall asleep in the first place until forever late.”
“You had chronic insomnia when you could sleep, and then you got cursed so that you couldn’t sleep?” Heero wondered in severe pity. “That doesn’t seem fair.”
“Welcome to the world of curses,” Duo replied, and Heero could tell without looking down that he was rolling his eyes. “But believe me: once I’m human, I am never going to have a problem sleeping again, I swear to god.”
It didn’t take long for Duo to start making fun of the second Star Wars episode as cheerfully as he had the first last night. And just like the first last night, Heero thought he was enjoying the second; he wondered what Duo would make of the original trilogy once they got there.
Near the end of Revenge of the Sith, Heero’s mother called. It was just another family dinner invitation, but it didn’t come without some leading questions and meaningful remarks. Quatre really did seem to be her greatest fear, and Relena’s roommate Lindsay her greatest hope. Heero couldn’t help grimacing a bit as he pleaded a prior engagement on the night she wanted him over, and navigated the treacherous rapids of her meddlesome homophobia not entirely without mishap.
Originally he had turned the volume on the TV down somewhat so Duo could keep watching, but when he noticed that Duo seemed to be paying more attention to his phone conversation (despite being unable to understand it), he paused the movie entirely. The doll was making frustrated noises as he listened to Heero, and it seemed a little sad that Duo, hearing only half of the discussion and comprehending none of it, could nevertheless tell what its mood was.
When Heero was finally free of his mother for the moment, he flopped back down onto the couch with a sigh. Relena was right: he needed a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the one he had in mind was in love with someone else.
“Man,” Duo grumbled, “for someone who likes to fix things as much as you do, you sure are taking your time fixing this thing with your family.”
This really wasn’t what Heero wanted to hear, especially when he’d been expecting sympathy. “What?”
“I’ve seen you at work,” said Duo knowingly. “You love figuring out what’s wrong with stuff and making it right. You get excited about it. Sure, you act all annoyed when you find something someone’s done wrong, but then you jump all over fixing it.”
“So?” the impatient Heero wondered. “What does that have to do with my family?”
“Well, your parents are being jerks to you for no good reason, and–”
Heero broke in irritably. “And I should be doing something to ‘fix’ that, should I?”
“You’re certainly putting up with it more nicely than I would.”
“And what would you do?”
“Tell them what’s going on! If your mom wants to hook you up with some girl, or wants you to get rid of your car, or whatever, put your foot down! Tell her it’s not going to happen, and she needs to stop wasting both your time!”
“Yeah, well, sometimes, with your mother, you can’t be as blunt as you’d like.”
“You can if she’s being a bitch.”
“Duo!” Heero was on his feet again in his growing annoyance. “You can’t say things like that about someone’s mother!”
“But she’s hurting you,” Duo protested. “She’s being pushy and unfair, and you’re suffering for it.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to start saying awful things to her.”
“Well, maybe it should! If that’s what it takes to get her to stop being so evil to you.”
“That’s what it would take to get her to stop talking to me entirely!”
“That’s her loss, then!”
“Duo…” Heero ran an exasperated hand through his hair. “These are my parents we’re talking about. I’m not just going to… throw them away… because they’re being unreasonable.”
“What is people’s deal about parents?” Duo sounded every bit as exasperated as Heero. “Why would you put up with bullshit you wouldn’t take from anyone else just because it’s coming from your parents?”
Heero gave a frustrated noise and strode out of the room. Of course this gesture didn’t mean quite so much when he took Duo with him, but it was effective nonetheless. He went out onto the balcony into a light rain, and there he stood in silence, holding Duo on the railing.
What really rankled was that, to a large extent, Duo was right: Heero did put up with treatment from his parents that he wouldn’t tolerate from anyone else. But it was more complicated than Duo made it sound; there was no simple algorithm for dealing with your parents, and no instruction manual on how to fix an uncomfortable family situation.
“I guess it’s a little counterproductive of me,” Duo said at last, quietly, “to be a jerk to you about your parents being jerks to you.”
Heero laughed faintly. “I may put up with a little too much sometimes.”
“And I never had parents, so I have no idea what I’m talking about with this stuff anyway.”
Heero stood silently for several more seconds, thinking about various things and becoming quite damp. The thought that kept coming back, even in the midst of his reflections about his parents and what could and couldn’t be done, was one that demanded to be spoken aloud. So, eventually and rather gruffly, he said, “It’s nice to know you care. Just… don’t call my mother a bitch.”
“Yeah, that was out of line. I’m sorry.”
Heero’s specific annoyance with Duo had already mostly faded, though his agitation and discontent regarding the situation they’d been discussing remained. With a sigh of frustration, he gave Duo a squeeze and retreated out of the rain.
Neither of them said anything more until they were seated back in front of the TV, which had gone to screensaver over the paused DVD, and then it was as if there had never been any tension.
“OK, so whiner-boy just killed his wife,” Duo was saying, “and the little green guy was up to something.”
“Right,” Heero agreed, rubbing rain off his hands onto his damp jeans and then reaching for the remote. And soon Anakin was on fire and Duo was laughing, and everything was (relatively) fine again.