“But everyone seems to despise him, for some reason. I even saw him voted ‘most hated video game character’ on one forum.”

It was Wednesday, and, excepting some minor system issues that IT was working frantically to fix, rather slow. Usually such a day was the time for everyone to catch up on paperwork and processing, but of course Wufei had no such intention. The problem was that he was too damn good at his job and always on top of his paperwork.

“I believe it’s all because of the rumors about the expansion. They don’t dislike him for any other, legitimate reason.”

This was Wufei’s third visit to Heero, who didn’t even know what he was talking about this time.

“But he’s gone through so much; he’s had very believable character growth. People say he’s too hot-headed, or that he has no actual motivations, but I disagree on both counts.”

How had this started, anyway? Oh, yes, Heero’s comment on Wufei’s tie (which, he realized in retrospect, had been a grave mistake) had led Wufei to talk about some costume he was making, and this somehow (unsurprisingly) had segued into a lot of unnecessary information about the character he would be dressing as.

“He has a much more believable viewpoint than Thrall — believable from an orc perspective, that is. Too many players are thinking like humans; that’s their problem.”

And Heero didn’t even have the benefit of Duo’s opinion, since Wufei had once picked the doll up. He was looking forward to whatever Duo would have to say when Wufei was gone, though. Assuming Heero could ever get rid of him.

“He’s still my favorite NPC, and I believe he’ll be a very effective leader.”

The biggest problem was that, although Heero was ostensibly parallel to Dorothy in rank, he wasn’t equipped with disciplinary options that weren’t more trouble for him than they were worth. Usually this wasn’t an issue, since it wasn’t his job to keep an eye on the people around him in that capacity, and Dorothy was usually there anyway — but today she was, like most of the sales staff, buried in catch-up work.

“I’ll be sure to bring in pictures once I get the costume done… though maybe I’ll wait for The Surgery.”

Oh, yes, of course, The Surgery.

“Maybe wear it in on Halloween?” Heero murmured, without much hope.

“Oh, I should have The Surgery before then… I’ll just bring in pictures.”

And I’ll have to look at them, Heero despaired.

“Though I still haven’t decided what to do about the tusks.”

“There may be a surgery for that too.”

Wufei took him seriously. “Yes, I’ve considered that. I don’t believe it would be convenient.”

“No, probably not.”

“Did I tell you I got an estimate for the other one, though?” Before Heero could answer this, however — assuming he was even able to think of an answer that wouldn’t utterly destroy what little professional relationship they had — Wufei went on hurriedly, “Well, I’ll tell you about it later.” Then he turned on his heel and left the cubicle. A moment later Dorothy walked by.

“Is he getting his testicles removed?” Duo wondered. “I didn’t think most veterinarians would do that to a human.”

Heero bent over and buried his face in his arms on the desk. He wasn’t used to restraining uproarious laughter, simply because the impulse almost never came over him, so he wasn’t nearly as good at such restraint as most people would have assumed. His shoulders shook and his head spun, and he was sure that some sound was escaping his lips, for all his efforts. Tears were definitely running from his eyes.

Duo seemed to be trying his best to keep a straight face (figuratively speaking, of course), but it wasn’t working. Also he sounded pleased (if a little startled) that he’d made Heero laugh so hard, and it was several very long moments before either of them was able to stop.

Finally Duo said, “So if he’s not getting neutered, what Surgery is this that he has to assign capital letters to?”

Heero still hadn’t entirely recovered, but he managed to choke out, “It’s a surgery to… to give him pointy ears. He’s been… he’s been talking about having it done as long as he’s worked here… nobody believes anymore that he’s actually ever going to do it.”

“Whaaat?” Duo started laughing again, more heartily this time. “Seriously?”

Heero could only nod.

“Oh, I’m so going to get a job here,” Duo sighed when he’d calmed down a little — though he was still chuckling — “and mess with that guy all day long.”

“Be my guest,” Heero replied. He noticed then that he’d received an email sometime in the last few minutes, and, still laughing somewhat, turned his attention toward the computer. He was loath to open it, though, when he saw that it was from Quatre and had no subject line; he didn’t want to spoil the excellent mood he was suddenly in — but an email from someone that was simultaneously his best friend and his manager was not something he could ignore.

So what page are we all on? Quatre wondered. What’s going on with you and Duo? Does he know about me and Trowa? It’s hard to tell, but it seemed like he was giving us funny looks last night.

Heero hadn’t really wanted to explain this, even to his best friend, but felt now that he had to. Stifling a sigh, he set up a reply and thought about what to say. Finally he forced himself to type, Duo is still in love with Trowa. I haven’t told him about you two. I don’t want to hurt him. I haven’t decided what to do yet. Then he forced himself to send the message immediately. Usually he liked to proofread things a few times beforehand, but knew he would talk himself out of disclosing his personal thoughts if he did that now.

The answer came almost immediately: Are you sure?

No, I’m not, Heero responded. That makes it worse.

Do you want me to talk to him?

Heero smiled bitterly. It was just like Quatre to offer that: kind-hearted and officious. Thank you, but no, he emailed back. I’ll take care of it.

Make sure you do! Quatre returned. I’m getting us the 4th off, and I’ve got some great ideas about what you and Duo could spend that day doing… but that won’t work if you haven’t resolved this. I know what I’ll be spending that day on.

Heero snorted, and replied, I bet you do.

“Stupid emails?” Duo wondered, hearing him.

Heero looked down at the doll, and was struck once again with the idea, suggested by Duo’s comment, of Wufei having his testicles removed in order to dress up as a World of Warcraft character. He felt a grin spreading across his face again, and it only widened when Duo returned it. Heero was surprised and delighted to find Duo capable of putting him into a cheerful frame of mind tenacious enough to last through an uncomfortable reminder of a problem he had with Duo himself. He couldn’t help thinking that to have Duo around in the long-term could only make him consistently happier. Well, depending on the context.

“So tell me everything you plan on doing to Wufei as soon as you work here,” he said.

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There just may have been, maybe, a reference to Link Worshiper‘s The Forsaken around here somewhere. Too bad you’d have to be a WoWbie to get it, eh?