disclaimer: gw, not mine.

genre: AU
pairings: 1x2, 3x4
warnings: uh, introspective philosophical stuff...

Part 11
by 0083

- 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 person is.

That is so remotely not what Heero and I are doing that I wonder if what we are doing can even qualify as dating.

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 me carefully.

“Are we talking movies, dinners, what? Flowers and candy? Meeting the parents? Holiday fun? Rock climbing?”

“Duo,” Wufei said with a quirk of his lips, “is it me or does your definition of dating seem to be a bit.. antiquated?”

Antiquated? Me?

“Yeah,” Meiran joined in, “because you seem to be rather fixated on the activities of dating, not the concept.”

“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.

“We dated.”

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 morning person.

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 person.”

“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 words.”

“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 morning.

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 concept.”

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 other.

“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 is?

“Oh, maybe,” Heero replies seriously, but I spy a hint of humor in his eyes, “or we could say we’re with each other.”

“You know, I don’t think I ever realized how many ways there were to say that you are.. romantically involved.”

“Ooh, wordy. I like that phrase. We’re romantically involved.”

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.

on to part 12

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