INSTANT MESSENGER
1+2, fluff, ficlet



Duo tapped away on the keyboard, his eyes fixed on the screen and the tip of his tongue nestling between his teeth. He was almost fully dressed, though his shirt wasn’t fastened yet – behind him, his books lay in haphazard piles on the bed. The hair on the top of his head was sticking out a strange angle, waiting for a fierce morning brush. He yawned, more than once, but he didn’t stop typing.

The screen of his Instant Messenger blinked at him, and he snapped across to read.

/Don’t you have a lecture at nine? You’ll be late if you don’t hurry up/

He grinned, and typed quickly back. /Same as u, buddy. I’ll come and pick u up on the way thru, we can get breakfast on campus/

He watched the reply eagerly, though then a frown appeared on his forehead. He typed again. /You have 2 attend some of ‘em, Heero. Ur not *that* fucking bright/ The window blinked swiftly, and he sighed aloud. /OK/ his fingers typed. /Sorry for the cursing. Just get worried for u. U haven’t been in college all wk/

/I have essays to complete/ came the perfectly typed and non-inflammatory reply. /I have agreed it with my tutor, to work from home. Next week I will return to a normal curriculum timetable/

/But we never get 2gether/ protested Duo’s words.

/Never?/

Duo grimaced. Heero was the only guy he knew who could type a raised eyebrow without the usual cute symbols. /College is about other things than study u know/ he persisted. /And if u don’t come in, I can’t check u eat properly. You’ll end up thinner n a church mouse/

The screen flashed. /Mixing your similes, Duo. I eat perfectly well, just not the mounds of food that you prefer/

Duo stuck his tongue out at his laptop.

/I suspect you’re sticking out your tongue now, Duo. You’d better get your boots on and go. You’ll have to run for the bus – I believe they’ve cancelled the one at 20 minutes past the hour due to the bad weather/

Duo pushed his chair back, reaching to flip off the machine with a certain amount of pique. But he didn’t. He watched the flashing tab a little longer.

/Duo? Have you gone? I can’t hear you along the corridor/

Duo sighed. His watch alarm was bleeping at him and he swore at it enthusiastically. One last type… /You want me to bring u back some lunch? I have a free pd at 2. I could heat it up for u while you work/

/No thank you/ came the cool reply. Duo wondered how he could think that an arrangement of words on a laptop screen could be described as cool, but that was how it came across to him. /I’ve made other plans/

Duo slammed down the lid of the laptop. He had five minutes to find his left boot under the pile of dirty washing, brush his hair, gather up the right books for his day’s lectures, and get out to the bus stop.

He still found forty-five seconds to pause outside Heero’s door, three doors down from his. There was no sound inside the room that he could hear – no radio, no music, no TV news. Guy spent all his time engrossed in his work. Of course, if Duo did the same, he might get rather better grades than he had been getting so far…

He frowned at the closed door. He bent and propped a paper bag containing a couple of whole wheat bagels up against the door frame – admittedly, they were yesterday’s and they’d need some serious warming, but a soggy breakfast was better than none, right? - then he turned and ran for the bus.


*


Duo came back to the college dorm during his free period. He tried to concentrate on his revision books, but he kept being distracted by things like the CD he was playing, and the noise of the street outside his window, and the uneven colour of the ceiling paint, and … well, other stuff. He re-read his morning mail which consisted of two loan offers and a voucher for sanitary towels, and he folded a couple of clean tee shirts in a imaginative selection of ways to see if they looked OK without having to iron them. It didn’t work.

He booted up the laptop to see if anyone else had free time to talk, but no-one was online. He wandered out into the corridor, ostensibly to check the mail again, and he passed Heero’s door a couple of times – five in all, actually - but there was still no sound from inside. He listened carefully at the keyhole for a full two minutes, just to make sure. He would have knocked, but Heero didn’t like being disturbed when he was studying, did he?

Duo knocked, anyway. There was no answer. He tried a couple of times more, just in case Heero was in the shower or had his headphones on or was conversing with aliens on behalf of NASA or… something.

Duo sighed. The end of the year timetable sucked. Exams; essays; stuff that interfered with Real Life. He missed his friend’s company. Missed teasing him on the bus journey, picking out lunch for him, complaining about the student lecturers, chatting about the latest TV shows. He missed copying Heero’s notes when he’d forgotten his own; missed Heero’s slow, gentle laugh every time Duo asked to do it. Lots of stuff, really.

His boot nudged something on the floor: an empty bakery bag that had been folded neatly and left back on the exact spot where he’d placed it. When he picked it up, he saw a sketch on the side of it – a sharp, but smartly penned doodle of a smiley face on legs. It was rubbing its belly, like it was full of food.

Duo grinned. There was a neatly written message underneath the scribble. I have to submit my last essay by 2 p.m., then I’ll come back to the dorm. I’m free for the next couple of days. We could take a break together, maybe go fishing. Let me know tonight. From Heero.

Like that handwriting needed a signature for him to recognise it. Duo grinned and kept on grinning. One edge of the bag was folded back, so he peeled it open again to read a postscript. That’s assuming you’ve finished your own revision first. H.

Duo shook his head, still grinning. He tucked the bag carefully inside his jacket and went back to his room to wait.