Duo glanced up briefly from the sofa to confirm what Heero was talking about. "Yeah."
"I thought you were planning on getting it in a little early. Earlier than last minute, anyway." He picked up the sheaf of papers and straightened them out a bit. "Wanted to make a good impression."
"Yeah, well, I keep fussing with it. Want to make a good impression, you know. They're probably not even going to start reviewing them until they're all in. Don't want to rush to send it in, then, only to find out I've spelled my own name wrong or something."
He chuckled. "Want me to look it over?"
"Nah, it's cool. I'll convince myself to send it in pretty soon."
Heero went ahead and looked it over anyway. He knew how much Duo wanted to get into the summer program. And, he had to admit to himself, he got a certain kick out of looking over Duo's accomplishments. With those skills under his belt, Heero was sure Duo would qualify for anything he put his mind to. "Hmmm.... I gave you Odin's contact info, right?"
Duo finished typing out the sentence in his report before answering. "Yeah, I got it."
"Looks like that's the only thing missing, if you ask me."
His answer was a skeptical sound. "Yeah, maybe."
"Fine, put it this way: once you fill in the contact info, it'll be one less thing you're missing for sure, right?"
"Yeah, that's one way of looking at it." Duo let out a puff of breath and went on entering his experimental data into his laptop.
Particularly sensitized to every misplaced sigh and frown and glare coming out of his boyfriend due to recent events, Heero eyed Duo speculatively before putting the application down and going back to the kitchen table, where he'd set up his workspace for the evening. "Well, you just have to do things one at a time until you're out of things to do."
"You're losing your grumpy edge, man."
Grumpy didn't mean unproductive. "The sooner you send it in, the sooner you won't have to think about it. All you'll have left to do then is sit back and wait for your acceptance letter."
Duo snorted. "Replaced the grumpy with arrogance, eh?"
"Confidence," Heero corrected. "They only accept eight applicants. While I have all the confidence in the world that you'll be one of them, it can't happen if you don't even send in your application on time."
"Geez, chill out, Heero. I'll get it done. It's not like I'm always late with stuff or something. What's the big problem?"
He shrugged and deliberately kept his tone casual. "Everything else is filled in so meticulously. It makes Odin's contact info in the reference box seem conspicuously absent in comparison."
There was a weighty pause before Duo answered defensively. "I just haven't decided whether or not I want to fill it in yet."
Heero blinked. "Why wouldn't you?"
"It's... I dunno." The irritated tone dropped out of his voice, leaving something a little bit tired. "Like, it feels cheap to try to get a job with them based on the fact that I know someone who knows someone."
Heero took a moment to process that before he answered. "First of all, you don't just know someone who knows someone. You know him yourself. And second of all, it's not based on that. It's got very little to do with Odin, and everything to do with you. You and your own merits. And let's just face it: it's important to have contacts."
"Ugh, that sucks. The world shouldn't be like that."
"But it is, Duo." It felt unusual to be the dismal realist for a change. "Of course I don't like it. I'm not the kind of person that makes and maintains contacts easily. But the way I see it is, you can't expect a person that lives only in his own bubble to be aware of the opportunities out there. The opportunities don't just come to you from nowhere, whether you read it on a bulletin board or someone told you about it."
Duo plopped back onto the sofa and blew his bangs out of his eyes with an audible breath. "Of course I'm glad I have access to this chance. It's not like I wish you'd never told me about it or something, or that I probably couldn't have found it on my own. I just... I just think I should try to get in without having to trade on your dad's good name."
A noble cause, if ultimately pointless. "It's probably just there to short-circuit the reference checking. It'll save them time calling up people and asking about you if there's someone in their own office they can talk to for a recommendation. I don't think that knowing someone would actually put you in a position to get the job if they didn't think you were qualified. This isn't just some internship. You're going to get hands-on work on hardware that's going to be going into space -- hardware that is very expensive, might I add. They're not going to put their project overbudget and overschedule just so they can hire the boss's kid or something."
He stared up at an irregularity in the patching of the ceiling that he had first noted so long ago that it was like an old friend now. If he let his eyes unfocus, sometimes he could make out a space ship. Other times, it just looked like an irregular patch of spackle. "You have more faith in the government than I do."
"They're not all idiots, Duo."
"Coulda fooled me, looking at the current administration."
"Odin works for the government, Duo."
"Yeah, but he's just R&D. That doesn't count. He's not a part of the bureaucracy."
"My mother worked for the government bureaucracy."
Duo blinked and glanced over quickly to Heero to confirm that the offended tone of voice was only a joke. He was relieved to see an upward quirk in the corner of his boyfriend's mouth. "The moment seems ripe for a 'your mom' joke, but for the life of me, I just can't think of one right now."
Heero loosed the almost-stern look for a small laugh. "Sorry, can't help you out with that."
The brief break in Duo's mood quickly devolved back into a mild sourness as his brain started wondering how many 'your mom' jokes wouldn't be that far from the truth for his own mother.
The lack of retort, or even a decent attempt to continue the conversation in a timely manner, was more than enough to cause Heero to start prompting. "Duo. What, are you afraid of what Odin might say about you? He thinks highly of you. Are you afraid they'll find out you're gay? If they're anything like my dad, they aren't going to care." A small leap of logic bounded its way across his mind. "...Unless it's the fact that he's my dad."
"Don't be stupid."
Duo couldn't see the raised eyebrow his instant denial had certainly evoked, but it hung in the air and made its presence known anyway. He sank another inch lower in his seat.
Heero gave him the courtesy of a brief, pregnant pause before he ordered his thoughts into a neat little line for inspection. He eyed them carefully and chose a relatively neutral tone with which to present them, adding a couple of good pinches of sincerity as he went on. "Duo. I know you... well... have 'issues' when it comes to your dad. But don't let him keep ruining things for you. Are you going to let him keep you from getting something you really want? You really want this job, Duo. Don't let him stop you from doing everything you can to get that job."
It took Duo a minute to answer. "Yeah, I know my 'dad' was a piece of --" He bit off what he had been about to say and, after a deep breath, rephrased. "I know not all dads are created equal. I know you don't mind being associated with your dad. I don't mind being associated with your dad, either. I just... well... you know." He waved his hand vaguely at his head.
Now seemed like a good time for Heero to leave the kitchen table and park himself behind Duo. He leaned over the sofa and gave his boyfriend a hug. "You need to stop thinking so much."
Duo tilted his head to the side, making contact with Heero's. "I will. Eventually."
Heero kissed him on the cheek. "I have Odin. You have Howard. Everyone else is just history, Duo."
He laid a hand on the arms embracing him and squeezed. "You wouldn't say that about your mother," he replied softly.
After a few seconds of silence, Heero gave up with an amused sound. "Okay, you've got me there. I've run out of reassuring things to say. For the moment."
"S'okay. Just..." He squeezed Heero's arm again. "You don't need to say anything."
last modified : 6/8/2008 01:53:43 PST