disclaimer: blah blah blah (of course i don't own gw) pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xM
genre: AU
warnings: saaaaaaaaaaaap, christmas bashing

Part 19
by 0083

- The Eighteenth Encounter -

Have you ever noticed how giddy people get for weeks on end after someone they love tells them they love them? Well, I’m not one of them. Perhaps it is that I’m too damned masculine to ever qualify as giddy, or that I lack the proper sentimentality organs to feel such a silly emotion, but whatever the reason, I was not giddy.

That is not to say that I was not happy about it, only that I did not dance around my office in a haze of rose petals and fluffy feathers singing ‘he loves me’ in falsetto. Besides, we still had some major kinks to work out of our relationship.

After we told each other of our love, the relationship kicked back into gear. Heero called me often, we talked, we went on what we loosely termed as dates and we did some serious kissing and groping whenever we got the chance. In some ways, we were like teenagers, all excited about each other yet forced to hide our activities to those around us.

During this time of interesting bliss, Heero and I did have our occasional talks about the fiancée problem as well as my parental issues. Our analytical brains whirled in light speed trying to come up with solutions that did not involve anyone dying, falling into a coma or causing a massive trauma to a major organ.

Suffice to say, we came up with nothing.

So, the weeks went by until Christmas was staring at us in the face. That alone brought forth more demons and boy, was I not ready to deal with them.

Yeah, I’m talking about the horrendous ordeal known as Christmas shopping.

I have never quite figured out what enchants certain people when shopping and mall are mentioned within the same paragraph. My mother alone could buy out an entire shopping complex had she the money and every Christmas time, she is out making vendors happy by single handedly running the capitalistic machine. I don’t know how she does it, really. The woman hardly can walk a mile on the treadmill, but when she is out shopping, she practically walks a marathon distance.

Not to mention, she buys everything in sight.

Not I, though. I hate shopping, it gives me the willies. Seriously. All those people, especially over holiday times, can get very scary. Nice, mild mannered soccer moms turn into raving lunatics with razor claws in the women’s clothing department. Gentle, urbane men become frothy at the mouth raiding the lingerie store. Children who are already the bane of society transform into absolute monsters who cut lines and make high pitched noises in the video games section.

What is there to like about holiday shopping in a mall or any place occupied by human beings?

That is why I love the internet. Ever since the internet became open for shopping, I was on board. I swear, I do all my holiday shopping on line and am ever grateful for it. I have a hard enough time going out to stores to buy things I know I need, let alone browse with the masses of people who would cut my throat if I touch the wrong ‘on sale’ item.

Anyway, why am I babbling about Christmas shopping when I should be pondering about the ways to extricate myself and Heero from the Relena-Parent Trap? Because I haven’t the faintest fucking idea what to get Heero for the damned holiday, that’s why.

It was easy enough to shop for my friends because like every year, I asked them what they wanted from me. Quatre had requested that he was in need of some sporting equipment so I ordered him a top of the line tennis racquet. Trowa had wanted some books and had given me a list of them so that I could order a bunch of them from a book vendor on line. Wufei and Meiran were still in short supply of some house hold goods so I got them a fancy, custom made coffee table. All on line, all done in my boxers.

My family was equally easy. I bought my parents a cruise package in the Caribbean as they had wanted and my brother was going to receive the most state of the art DVD player on the market. It was all settled. I should have been done.

But you see, I have never shopped for a significant other before this year, so I was stumped with Heero. The main problem was that I felt as if asking Heero what he wanted was a bit crude. Am I not supposed to surprise him with the most perfect gift or something or other? Should I not have some deep instinctual feeling about what he truly wanted on this most commercialized of holidays? Isn’t it a fact of romance that whatever I get him, he will think is the most precious thing in the world?

Oh sure, if you live in the freak world of romance novels.

In reality, I have no idea. Truth be told, I don’t even know what Heero already possesses, let alone fathom the deep, lurking desire within his heart.

And in any case, I always figured my significant other would be a woman whom I could appease with diamonds and furs, not a man who would be aghast at such gifts.

Therefore, my options were quite limited. I could not ask Heero what he wanted directly nor could I blindly guess. The only thing I could do was somehow unearth that fact from him without him guessing my true motives.

Of course, there was a snowball’s chance in hell that Heero would not notice since he was the master of observations and human behaviors. Yeah, I’m pretty much stuck.

This weighty question of what I should buy Heero for Christmas pressed hard into my brain and it distracted me often. In fact, it distracted me enough that Heero noticed.

“Duo, are you okay?”

I shake my head out of the debate of whether Heero was a toaster or a toaster oven guy enough to look at him in the eyes. Then I’m reminded that we are currently at a lovely restaurant having filet mignon with a bottle of pinot noir on the side.

“Fine, just, um..” What to say, what to say.. “I just have some things on my mind.”

Nice save, Maxwell.

“Oh?” Heero says as he raises his right eyebrow, “anything I can help with?”

“Not really, don’t worry about it.”

Then I change subjects deftly and we have a nice time without me getting distracted. Much.

We finished dinner on a pleasant note and headed back to my apartment for some time alone. It was a chilly yet lively Saturday night with people out about the well lit and decorated city. There were lights just about everywhere, enough so that we did not need the moon to light the way. Oh hell, it seems like this city is burning half its electricity quota on these street lights.

Then again, I suppose it is rather romantic, walking through a city lit by cheerful and mellow lights with your boyfriend. I should not take Christmas so personally because I’m sure the holiday isn’t there to give me a migraine.

“Duo,” Heero says as we make our way to my apartment, “are you still thinking about whatever it was that had you staring like a fish during dinner?”

He sounds somewhat perplexed but amused, as if my constant mental sidebar was unusual in some way. It is not often that I take my full attention away from Heero when we are out, that is true, but my head is filled with Heero. He can’t really blame me for being distracted when he is the cause of it.

“It’s nothing,” I lie rather glibly, “so don’t bug me, okay?”

“If it’s nothing,” he counters just as lightly, “why have you been so spacey lately?”

Good point.. but I can’t talk to him about it since he is the issue. Thankfully, we come within the block of my apartment and I make a stupid excuse about being cold so that I could sprint rest of the way. I duck into my building about fifteen yards ahead of Heero and wonder if that sprint made him more suspicious. Probably.

Once we were in the warmth of my apartment without our coats and shoes, I made some tea while Heero fiddled on the remote control. Recently, we had come to the conclusion that we both despised holiday specials on television so it was hard for him to find anything worth watching. Between all the reindeer, elves, children and Jesus, television was conspiring against us.

“Turn that off,” I say as I hand him his oolong, “or you’ll get sick from all the holiday gooeyness on it.”

He grimaces and agrees with me.

“Something about Christmas inspires people. I cannot help it that we’re not those people.”

True, true. I think both of us are far too old and too immersed in the nastier side of humanity to really understand the miracles that people love about this time of the year. I mean, last Christmas, I had to make an emergency run to the city jail because a client of mine had killed his wife in holiday cheer. Yeah, he had too much egg nog and decided that he had not liked his wife’s gift of a wrench set so he had ended up beating her to death with it. How wonderful, huh?

I quickly change the mental direction so that I won’t have to think about such depressing things.

“Heero,” I ask, “what are you doing for Christmas?”

That brings forth a fresh grimace and Heero looks positively ill.

“I have to go with Relena to her parents’ home for dinner. It has become a damned tradition.”

“I see.. her parents think you two are engaged as well?”

“Oh hell no,” he responds with uncharacteristic ire, “they know perfectly well which side of the line I fall. But they play along so that Relena won’t have a relapse or something. Thank god that at least I have Christmas Eve free from them.”

I pat his shoulder in sympathy. It must be bad to have fake in-laws on top of a fake fiancée.

“My brother’s coming into town for it,” I tell Heero, “since my parents will be swilling pina coladas on a cruise ship.”

It is then that Heero really looks around my apartment with a critical eye as if he is expecting to find something. He does this for a long time and I wonder if something is missing.

“You don’t have a tree.”

That startles me. I never thought about a tree.

“You mean the Christmas tree ordeal?”

“Yes,” he says, still looking around, “you’re catholic, so I thought you’d have one.”

“What does being catholic have anything to do with a tree?”

That makes him pause for a moment before he turns his rueful grin at me.

“Nothing, I suppose. But I pegged you for a Douglas fir type. With many outlandish decorations.”

“Are you kidding me?” I say in outrage, “do you know how much work it is to get one of those things in here? Not to mention all that decorating and clean up afterwards? I don’t have time for things like that.”

That is as truthful as it gets. Trees are a whole lot of time and effort, even the little baby ones. Not to mention, they keep shedding needles, making me pull out my vacuum cleaner on a regular basis.

“So you’re not a tree guy. Are you a presents guy?”

Could it be that Heero has just given me an opening to pry out of him what he wants for the holidays? I hope I can work this to my advantage.

“Of course I am,” I say flippantly, “I already did most of the shopping.”

“I as well. Although, I must admit, you were a tough one to shop for.”

Gah, he already bought me something? I mean, here I am still agonizing over what to get him and he was already done? That is so very.. unfair.

“You are tougher to shop for, Heero Yuy, you damned inscrutable bastard..”

He laughs at my sour face and then leans in quite suddenly to kiss me. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing and I feel the emotions surge up. Being kissed by Heero is an experience that I find hard to describe. When his lips touch mine, I feel as if I’m soaring and drowning at the same time, peaceful yet painfully aware. My head spins and my heart pounds, blood heats and skin tingles.

It sounds cliché and corny, I know, but it is the way it is.

We part from the kiss a bit shorter on breath but a whole lot happier and spend a few minutes smiling foolishly at each other. Moments like these keep me from minding the fiancée and take away the problem of my parents. Heero and his kisses.. they erase the bad things from my world and make me anew with each touch. Indeed, I’m immersed to my eyeballs in special.

“So..” I say softly, still looking into his eyes, “what you get me for Christmas?”

He laughs and kisses me again, probably to escape from answering, but do I mind? Not at all.

“What did you get me?” I ask again when we break for some oxygen.

“Persistent, aren’t you?”

“I am a lawyer, Heero. You wouldn’t believe how persistent I can get.”

We share a laugh and he leans down to kiss me again. Oh, I wanted the kiss, believe me, but no way he’s escaping twice. So, I gently shove him until there is some space between our bodies. He reluctantly moves, his face a study of carefully concealed humor.

“What, no more kissing?”

I roll my eyes at him and give him another shove, only a bit harder.

“Of course there will be more kissing. But answers first, Heero. What did I get?”

“Good lord,” Heero breathes out in exasperation, “can’t you stand a bit of surprise?”

“No way. Last time I was surprised, I spent a week in trial.”

He sits there and acts like he is contemplating whether or not to tell me, but I can see the glint in his eyes. He will not tell me, the little jerk.

“I’ll tell you,” he says to my surprise, “if you tell me what I’m getting.”

Okay, then. I believe I just dug myself a nice little trap with teeth at the bottom of the hole.

“I’m not telling.”

Yeah, that’s my brilliant response. But what else can I say when I have nothing to offer him at this time?

“I’m not telling either then.”

Here we are, two very well educated men, both of us with advanced degrees under our belts, and that is the best we can do as a debate. If this continues, I’m sure we’ll be slugging mud at each other calling the other cootie-heads. Can’t have that.

“Okay, we’ll drop the damn subject,” I say with a bit of a huff, “but you come for Christmas Eve and meet my brother.”

Oh, wait, did I just say that? Did I just invite Heero over to my house for a holiday to meet someone from my family?

“Of course, Duo,” I hear him say with joy in his voice, “I’d love to meet your brother. And I’ll bring Zechs and Noin, if you want to meet my friends still?”

At this point, the wheels in my head have come to a grinding halt as I try to see when and how I decided to invite Heero over to meet my brother. Oh shit, what was I going to say to Solo? How the fuck was I planning on introducing Heero? Oh hello brother dear, I want you to meet my boyfriend and yes, I seem to be gay, merry Christmas?

But I don’t let the panicky shock show. I created the mess.. I’ll fix it.

“Sure Heero, bring your friends. It’ll be a party.”

I guess that made Heero happy because all of a sudden I have an armful of my boyfriend trying to suck the tonsils out of me. At any other time, the kiss would have blanked my mind as I fell into the bliss of it, but right now, I’m too busy thinking about the disaster that Christmas Eve is going to become.

At times like this, I want to believe in god just so that I can pray.

on to part 20

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