The first day of Duo’s third week as Heero’s desk decoration went fairly smoothly, despite the meeting Heero had to attend in the afternoon. To this Duo rode in the pocket of Heero’s slacks, his vision entirely obscured by the suit coat that fell down over and concealed him. The meeting, which was extremely boring to listen to, ran late, and this kept them far enough past five o’clock that Heero didn’t have to worry about encountering Totally Out Of Character Guy on the way out. That didn’t mean their departure from the building was entirely encounter-free, however.


Duo was not at all surprised when Heero turned immediately at the hail, for the tone was so commanding, even in just those two syllables, as to leave very little room for noncompliance.

It was the security guard, the woman with the loopy braid-things that eyed Heero like a laser sight every day when he came into or went out of the building. She’d never talked to him before in Duo’s presence, but evidently curiosity had finally gotten the better of her professionalism, for now she had emerged from behind her high round desk in the entry and beckoned peremptorily to him.

“What,” Heero said.

She didn’t mince words. “Why have you been bringing that doll to work?”

Without actually feeling it, Duo was aware of Heero’s grip on him tightening. “He’s a collector’s item. I like having him on my desk.” Again, Duo wasn’t really surprised that Heero responded so readily; he had a feeling that very few people ever refused this woman anything.

“And why do you take it home every day?”

“So he doesn’t get damaged or stolen.” Heero’s dogged insistence on masculine pronouns, in the face of others’ use of ‘it,’ pleased Duo to no end.

“Let me see it.” It wasn’t a request.

Heero did only exactly as instructed, holding Duo up in a firm hand without stepping any closer, so the woman could see but not reach him.

“First officer,” said the security guard.

Heero nodded.

“But not Quinto.”

Into Heero’s momentary confused silence Duo hissed, “Zachary Quinto played Spock in the movie, remember?”

“Oh, no,” Heero managed. “He’s a role-play character.”

“Hmm,” said the woman. “Has Chang seen this?”

“Yes.” Heero looked as if he would rather not have answered that one.

She nodded sharply. It seemed to be both acknowledgment and goodbye, for without another word she turned and went back to her desk. Heero hastened to take advantage of her waning attention and make a quiet exit.

Duo managed to stifle his laughter at first, but couldn’t restrain himself any longer when Heero’s first remark in the parking lot was, “I feel like I’ve joined some secret nerd society, and now I’m finding out who all the other members are.”

“Well, at least she didn’t start an argument with me through you.”

“She didn’t have to! Did you see the look she gave you? She might as well just have come out and said I’m not a true fan because you’re in the wrong uniform.”

Again Duo laughed. “Do you think she and that other guy are secret lovers??”

Now Heero too gave a laugh, his somewhat startled. “No!”

“Aw, why not?”

“Because I can’t picture either one of them dating anyone!”

“Well, that’s what makes them perfect for each other!”

It was raining, but Heero hadn’t bothered with an umbrella for the relatively short distance across the parking lot. He did duck into his car in something of a hurry, though, and shake water off his messy hair in a manner that Duo found most adorable.

Duo had no physical urges at this point, of course, and even the remembered urges had long since ceased to manifest, but that didn’t stop him from feeling, not infrequently, a strong impulse to do things like kiss Heero, squeeze Heero, or snuggle Heero into oblivion. Thinking about how Heero would probably react if he did any of these (in any form) was depressing, so he tried not to. Sometimes, though, especially at night when Heero was lying there in bed all relaxed and pretty and often shirtless, Duo couldn’t help but daydream. And this reminded him…

“I keep thinking about what we were talking about the other day…” They were in the apartment by now, walking down the hall toward Heero’s bedroom, and Heero’s immediate stiffening at these words would have been hard to miss. Duo, realizing what he might be thinking, hastened on. “I mean, about sleeping and insomnia and stuff. You know what I wish I had?”

“What?” Heero set Duo down at the end of the dresser and went to change.

“A bed.”

From the closet Heero asked, “Like, a Barbie bed? That sort of thing?”

“Yeah, or whatever,” Duo verbally shrugged. “Something that looks like a bed and that’s small enough for me.” There was no comment from the closet, and Duo wanted to shout into it, “Dammit, this is why I love you, Heero Yuy! I say, ‘I want a bed,’ and you don’t say, ‘But you can’t sleep!'” But he decided against it. Instead he gave the explanation Heero hadn’t even asked for. “I know I can’t sleep, but I was thinking… I might as well pretend, right? Feel a little like a real person again?”

“Well, just so you know,” Heero told him very seriously, “I’m never going back onto that Barbie aisle at Wal-Mart or into a big toy store again in my life. But we can look online.”

“Can we?” Duo beamed. “Did I mention you’re my hero?”

Heero seemed to be smiling as he warned, “I’m not promising anything. You are aware they’ll all be pink, right?”

“Pff, like anyone knows that better than I do.”

They were all pink. They were also significantly overpriced. Actually most of the beds they found were collector’s pieces that Duo recognized from previous decades, and the sellers were looking for compensation in triple digits.

“I could get an actual bed for this much,” Heero protested as the third page of search results brought only higher and higher prices. “I’m sorry, Duo, this is just not going to happen.”

Trying to hide how disappointed he was at this utterly insignificant setback, Duo laughed. “Well, whatever. It’s not like I really need it.”

“Well, I’ve got one more idea.” Heero pulled up another window or whatever they were called and started setting up an email. Duo wants a bed, he typed. Any chance any of your sisters had a doll bed and left it behind when they moved out? I know you have an entire antique shop in your attic. And before I forget, are you going to get us the 4th off? I’m sure we’re going to need it.

“Aww, you guys are going to take even more time off for us?” Duo said as Heero sent the email and set the computer to shutting down.

“We may need more time than just that one day, too,” Heero replied, “but after that whole week off we can’t really take a lot more.”

“But that week was what got me my elbows!”

Heero, who’d picked Duo up and was heading out into the living room, was obviously smiling as he agreed with this. “I’m not complaining, and it didn’t cause any problems at work, but too much more and it will. But we’ll probably all be up half the night on the third, and we’ll have a lot to think about on the fourth.”

“Like how to keep Trowa from going completely crazy if this doesn’t work!”

“And on that pleasant note…” Heero muttered.

“Let’s read some Oz!” Duo finished for him. When Heero made a noise like a baffled and somewhat horrified laugh he added, “No use worrying about it now, right?”

Heero seemed to hesitate for a moment before agreeing, “Right.”

Before any reading could take place, Heero had to find himself some dinner, and the time he spent messing around in the kitchen passed in relatively comfortable silence as Duo stood in his pocket and pondered.

The implication with which he’d inadvertently alarmed Heero earlier hadn’t, in fact, been untrue: he hadn’t yet stopped dwelling on their little argument yesterday — or, rather, on the way Heero had behaved: he’d been annoyed and offended, and yet had not given even the slightest hint of wanting to take it out on Duo. He’d stalked out of the room in irritation, yet had picked Duo up without even a trace of hesitation.

Of course Duo didn’t believe that Heero would actually give up or even jeopardize the progress they’d made toward the full curse-breaking month, but he would neither have been surprised nor accusatory if Heero had at least thought about it. But it didn’t seem even to have crossed Heero’s mind, and at this Duo was impressed and touched.

He also still thought Heero should deal with his mom a lot more aggressively, but he wasn’t going to say so again.

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