- The Tenth Encounter -
It’s Wednesday afternoon, I’m at work and I’m in some
seriously deep thought. Something had been bothering
me for about twenty hours now and I have become quite
meditative about the whole situation. The question at
hand is not a question of law which I could have
answered with less time and effort nor is it a
question of fact, really.
The deep thought of mine centered on a concept that
eludes me even after my sleepless night and restless
day. Just what the hell is dating, anyway?
At first glance, the word evokes images of flowers and
candy, of goodnight kisses and holding hands. I see
couples at movies, at dinners, blushing shyly at each
other as they try to figure out just who the other
That is so remotely not what Heero and I are doing
that I wonder if what we are doing can even qualify as
I suppose on Sunday, Heero and my relationship changed
from.. something to something else. I don’t exactly
know, I don’t think there are words in the English
lexicon to describe what Heero and I have. Is it a
relationship? Are we dating? What?
Dating. It is such a deceptively innocent word,
bandied about the every day vernacular by almost
everyone. A girl or a boy somewhere on earth is
currently in the process of saying that he or she is
going on a date, or they are on a date, or they are
discussing date activities. The whole damned world is
enamored with dating, but do any of them know just
what it is?
Tuesday, Quatre had called to ask me if things with
Heero went well and I told him all about it. When I
finished, he excitedly asked me if we were now dating
and I had said nothing. After all, how can I say
we’re dating when I have not yet defined the term?
That began my long hours of deliberations on that
topic and even now, I haven’t come up with the answer.
On Thursday, I decided to reach out for some help.
This thing I had with Heero was new to me, so it
seemed obvious to me that I should be asking for
advice from those who knew a thing or two about being
with someone. Sure, I’ve slept around, but have I
ever taken a girl out on a date? Not unless the girl
in question considers getting drinks from me just
before we have sex as a date activity.
Although it was rare for me to go out on a weekday, I
made an exception on Thursday. I was driving myself
batty, trying to define just what the heck it was that
I was doing with Heero. We met at a quiet restaurant
that Wufei favored, or at least he did two years ago,
to discuss my question.
We consisted of me, the one who was in need of
answers, Quatre and Trowa who were my brightest hopes
for providing said answers, and Wufei and Meiran who
were supposed to act as mediators. It was a plan.
I should really stop saying that word ‘plan’ at all,
because every time I do, the fates hear me and twist
my reality so that it falls apart.
The opening topic at dinner was mundane, just old
friends talking about work. I told them about the
messy case load that had been pawned off on me and
Quatre griped about the idiocy of upper level
management of the department of which he was the vice
president. Trowa sympathized with us, but he couldn’t
really empathize seeing that he was a freelance
writer. He didn’t even have an office, let alone a
boss. Wufei talked about his students at the college,
pegging them as intelligent but it seemed that they
had a tendency to be snot nosed brats. I was like
that in college so I felt bad for Wufei. He does not
deal well with people like that. Of course, Meiran
laughed at her brand new husband for his inability to
deal with a bunch of teenagers with drinking problems,
but I think she understood better than any of us since
she was also a professor at the same place.
It was nice to talk about things that served no
significant purpose other than to hear ourselves be
social, but the question was burning so thickly in my
head by the time our main courses were out that I had
to break the mood.
“What is this thing called dating?”
That question had broken through an intricate
discussion about the right doneness for steaks. Four
pairs of eyes swiveled in my direction and considered
“Are we talking movies, dinners, what? Flowers and
candy? Meeting the parents? Holiday fun? Rock
“Duo,” Wufei said with a quirk of his lips, “is it me
or does your definition of dating seem to be a bit..
“Yeah,” Meiran joined in, “because you seem to be
rather fixated on the activities of dating, not the
“Mmm hmm,” Trowa interjected calmly, “like you’re
still in high school.”
“You are too interested in the definition to really
enjoy it, aren’t you.” That was from Quatre and it
seemed like he was accusing me of a horrible crime.
All I had done was ask a fairly simple question and
instead of answers, I was getting bombarded from all
sides with insults. I do not think my question was
stupid or anything, but they are beginning to make me
feel as if I had asked a question with the world’s
most obvious answer.
“Shit,” I say with extreme tact, “I didn’t ask you
guys to tell me what I thought of it! Tell me what
you think it is.”
Ah ha! I do believe I stumped them. They all had
their mouths gaping open as if any moment, a sound
would emerge, but nothing came out. After a few
seconds of verbal blockage, they looked at each other,
wrinkles between their eyes signifying that they were
thinking hard but coming to no conclusions.
“Well,” Meiran finally said, “Wufei and I never dated.
We only met like a week ago.”
As if that excused anything.
“Yeah,” Wufei stuttered into the conversation, “so we
can’t be experts or anything. And before this
unfortunate marriage, I was too busy to date.”
That earned Wufei a full arm swing of a smack on the
backside of his cranium, causing him to pitch forward
into his dinner with his nose. Meiran continued on
with her dinner as if nothing happened as Wufei
carefully dug his nose out of his medium well steak.
I cannot be blamed for laughing at this spectacle.
“What about you two?” I ask between chuckles, turning
my head towards Quatre and Trowa.
Quatre sounded absolutely adamant about that fact. In
fact, he had a martial light in his eyes that said if
anyone dared challenge his supposition, he would
personally see to their untimely demise.
“Of course,” Trowa agreed, “I even asked him out on
our first date.”
“You did not ask! You mumbled something about a movie
playing at the Center and I said it’d be a great idea
if we went.”
“Is that not asking?”
“No!” Quatre said, getting quite excited now, “asking
implies that there was a question. You never posed
any question. You just said something so
unintelligible that I had to take pity on you and make
sure we went.”
I leave the conversation politely at this point by
mentally backing away. Quatre and Trowa are talking
about their first date and they both had completely
different memories of that time. They disagreed on
who asked whom, what they had seen, what they had done
after the movie, everything. But they did it so well
that anyone hearing them would immediately know that
they were quite madly in love.
Giving up on getting any more answers out of my
quarreling friends, I turned to Meiran and Wufei in
hopes that they could possibly be of help. Alas,
those two were too busy discussing Wufei’s slip of the
tongue about their unfortunate marriage. There is
nothing messier than getting between a husband and a
wife in a passionate verbal exchange about the
condition of their marriage.
By the time dinner was over, I had not received any
answers. However, the night had not been a total loss
since I got to see two vastly different couples in
action and noticed one critical element. Whether they
were talking, fighting or discussing, they were at
ease with one another.
I think I am fairly at ease with Heero, so I cannot be
in that bad of a situation with him.
I went home and slept well that night.
Friday morning, I woke up a little too early. Six in
the morning to be exact, but I felt so rested that I
had no desire to go back to bed. Instead, I decided
to be mischievous and give Heero a call. This would
be a hell of a way to find out whether or not he was a
The phone rang only once before it was picked up and
the voice on the other end sounded remarkably awake.
“Heero..” I say in place of a greeting, “you are a
morning person, aren’t you.”
Wait.. I seem to recall that I had called Heero at
four in the morning once and he had been awake then
too. He had been awake around midnight when we had
our dinner as well. Therefore, either Heero had my
exact schedule or he never slept. Both possibilities
were rather creepy.
“Just because I am awake does not make me a morning
“Right. That’s why you sound so chipper and cheery.”
Note to self: never, ever say chipper ever again
because it is a word that should not be used to
describe Heero under any circumstances.
“I only sound cheerful because it’s you calling.
Everyone else would have gotten a long string of swear
“Good,” I say, smiling and shaking my head, “because
if you were a morning person, I would have had to ask
you not to procreate ever so that we could stop the
propagation of your hated kind.”
Heero laughs and even though his voice is dimmed by
the phone line, it is still a great sound.
“I am not one of them, I swear.”
Are all morning conversations this friendly and fun?
Because if they are, I just might call Heero every
We talked for a bit longer before hanging up to get
ready for work. I had my load of psychos to deal with
and I’m sure Heero had a plate full of them as well.
In our respective fields, we tend to run into a good
amount of the disturbed and the deranged.
Later that night, as promised, Heero and I went out to
dinner. It was a nice, Japanese restaurant with many
different kinds of sushi and sake. The atmosphere was
soothing and we got to sit in a private booth away
from prying eyes.
As soon as we sat down, I smiled at him and said the
first thing that came to my mind.
“Are we dating?”
Apparently, I can sound like an idiot without imbibing
an immense amount of liquor. I had just asked Heero a
question that belonged in a teenage romance. Hell, it
was a line the girl would have asked! I cringe, but
Heero seems to take me seriously.
“I don’t know. I have never been too sure about the
I know that my face lights up at Heero’s response,
because I am not the only one pondering the question
of dating. Heero has no idea what it is to date
someone is either and that makes me feel better.
Neither of us knows what we are doing, and as odd as
it sounds, it comforts me.
“So, what do you think we’re doing, Duo?”
It is rather strange that he would ask me when I had
been the one to pose the question in the first place.
Honestly, I don’t know what we’re doing. I don’t
think we’re dating, because that has to involve
awkwardness and shyness that we got over a while ago.
I don’t think we’re going out together because that
just sounds so damned juvenile. We certainly aren’t
boyfriends yet since we have not even hugged each
“Well,” I answer after my long pause, “I don’t know
either, but whatever it is, I like it.”
“Then that’s all that matters, right?”
I nod in agreement, but that awful little critter in
my head that likes definitions and solid reasoning
reared its pointy head, taking control of my mouth.
“Are we seeing each other, you think?”
Gah, what is it about me that needs to define
everything? Can’t I just go with the flow and let the
future take its course or whatever the damned saying
“Oh, maybe,” Heero replies seriously, but I spy a hint
of humor in his eyes, “or we could say we’re with each
“You know, I don’t think I ever realized how many ways
there were to say that you are.. romantically
“Ooh, wordy. I like that phrase. We’re romantically
The talk degenerated from that point, both of us
taking pot shots at popular phrases people use to
refer to coupledom in general. Soon, we got our raw
fish on a wooden boat along with our piping hot sake
and got down to the business of.. dating, seeing each
other, being with each other, take your pick.
I can’t define what Heero and I are, but whatever it
is, I know it’s special.
Yeah. Special. I can’t seem to escape that word
around Heero anymore. I might as well accept it fully
and get used to it.