A/N: Slash of the favorite kind. H-B.
Harlan Band liked to think he was not so easily flustered. Whether or not this was true depended on who you talked to. For instance, talking to Harlan revealed that he was a patient, caring individual. Talking to anyone else who had ever come into contact with him, including those random individuals he passed on the street and then never saw again… well, the stories differed. But whatever the outcome, whatever the decision made about the time it took to make Harlan uncomfortable, really didn't matter all that much.
Because, Harlan thought, as he sat on his bunk gritting his teeth and clutching his compupad hard enough to quite possibly bend the plastic, it didn't much matter how long it took him to lose his patience. What mattered was that he'd lost it and was making no actual motion to retrieve it.
"Will you /stop/ staring at me like that!"
It really didn't help his mood to have the object of his shouts do nothing but raise an eyebrow in a silent question.
Harlan glared right back. "You've been doing it all day. Stop it. It's annoying."
Bova looked down at his compupad, typing quickly. "You've only just noticed today?"
"Yeah, I- HEY!" Harlan jumped off his bunk and strode quickly over to Bova's, fully intending to rip the compupad from the younger boy's hands. "What do you mean 'just today'? How long have you been watching me?!"
Bova, with the type of speed Harlan liked to term as 'freakish', slid off the other end of his bunk, putting it between the two of them and effectively holding his compupad from Harlan's reach. "It's an experiment."
"In what?" Harlan demanded in a half-growl. "Human studies?"
"Sort of, yes."
Though he continued glaring, Harlan thought it was having less of an effect on the younger boy as it used to. Granted, they'd known each other a lot longer and were, more or less, much closer now than they used to be, but he doubted that was the entire reason. It could also be that sparring with Bova had become more difficult the more the Uranusian learned to effectively harness his 'freakish' speed. Another possibility was Bova's growth spurt, in which he effectively shot up to just barely shorter than Harlan himself. Of course, he wasn't very /big/, tall and skinny in a way that could be effectively described as 'lanky', but he was tall and that made it harder for Harlan to look overbearing.
Not that he couldn't still do it, and still attempted it whenever possible. Such as now, gripping the bunk between them and leaning over it to continue glaring at Bova. The Uranusian stared back impassively, his usual blank expression asking, no, /begging/ Harlan to introduce it to his fist. Such was his usual reaction around Bova lately. "Let me see your notes."
Harlan could have sworn as he grated his teeth, he heard several sparks as well. "No. Why the /hell/ not?"
"Because if I let you see them, you'll be aware of what actions I'm recording and you'll change them and it will ruin the experiment." Logic, order, reason. Bova's three favorite things. Harlan wanted to smear emotions and hormones all over them and once, /just once/, have Bova do something stupid and crazy. Just /once/, let him not make any sense, rather than slowly force Harlan to see the reason in his actions.
Like he was doing now.
"Fine." It was an agreement, but it was also a growl and a threat. Harlan continued glaring as many daggers as he could into Bova's blank face, but they never quite seemed to make their target before falling uselessly to the ground in a clatter only Harlan could hear. A clatter that sounded an awful lot like failure. Finally, he pushed off from the bunk with an annoyed groan and began making his way back to his own bunk. "So, what? I'm just supposed to let you follow me around all day?"
As he picked up his own compupad from his bunk, Harlan could see Bova out of the corner of his eye. Still impassive and calm, typing carefully as if he had all the time in the world and all the inclination to use it. "No," he replied finally, tone as blank as his face. Looking back up at Harlan and brushing his hair from his eyes, Bova shook his head as well – as if just saying 'no' wasn't enough, Harlan needed visual aids. That was enough to annoy him. What Bova said /afterward/, however… "I need another week."
"Another /week/? What for?!"
The Uranusian shrugged, tossing his compupad onto his bunk as if dismissing the idea entirely. "I need a certain amount of time to gain an adequate amount of comparable data."
Bova blinked and, if Harlan hadn't been living with the guy for the past four years, he might have missed the small hint of a smile around the Uranusian's mouth. "Studying you for one day does nothing. A million things could have happened that one day to affect your actions. What I need to do is get several days – at least three, a month at best – to observe your actions and see which ones fit as constants. That's the information I'll use."
Harlan sighed, looking back to his own compupad. He was supposed to be working. There was work to be done, you know, and he had to do it, hopefully without worrying about being watched by a science-obsessed crewmate. "And this is for what? Human studies?"
The Uranusian just shrugged. "Something like that."
Another sigh, more defeated and annoyed than anything else, and Harlan turned to leave the bunks. Behind him, he could hear Bova beginning to follow and as he reached the door, the human stopped, turned and looked at his crewmate with narrowed eyes. "…A month, huh?"
Bova raised an eyebrow, stopping as Harlan scrutinized him and said quietly, "…Yeah?"
"And you only need another week."
A beat and Bova suddenly had that almost-unnoticeable smile again. He nodded. "Yeah."
Grit, grit, grit. Harlan was pretty sure he could start a fire from the friction created by grinding his teeth together. "So, basically, you've been watching me for three weeks."
"Uh." Instead of answering 'yeah' like a normal person, Bova retrieved his compupad and went about looking up the answer. Finally he looked back up at Harlan and nodded. "Just about. Two weeks, five days."
There was a lot to say about that. A lot to say about personal space and privacy and Harlan's right to know if he was being watched and, if he was, /why/ he was being watched. Yessirree, there was a lot to say about that.
He was just in no mood to say it.