disclaimer: gw, not mine.

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

Part 10
by 0083

- The Ninth Encounter -

Isn’t it amazing how I can go from despising Heero to hurting him to liking him to ignoring him within so short a time? Isn’t it just so cruel and mean of me to do it without batting an eyelash?

Isn’t it incredible how well I hide behind my work so that I would not have to admit to myself that I might have made a mistake?

A week has passed since Heero came to my office with dinner. It was a week filled with intensive work hours for me, affording me an excuse not to have social interaction with anybody. Heero called daily, but I was always curt with him. He might have come by in the evenings, but I had always made sure that after five in the afternoon, I would be elsewhere in the vast building doing work.

If Heero thought I was avoiding him, he never said so. He was always concerned, so damned worried that I was overworked. He was so nice that every time I tried to tell him that we should never speak again, I found myself unable to say it.

I am at an interesting crossroads of life right now. On one hand, I have the means and the person to be special with, dare I say to love. On the other, I have the infinite possibility of heart break and pain.

So, the question is, what do I desire more, the love or the need to remain intact?

Does everyone who finds himself in my situation analyze it so closely? The person that I am does not allow me to do something without seeing the consequences. If I happen to somehow fall in love with Heero thereby fulfilling my mission, what are the consequences?

Let’s face the facts, as I said before, my occupation does define a large aspect of my life. I am a criminal defense attorney. I have seen some grisly and atrocious things people do in the name of love, most of which would get them twenty to life in a maximum security prison. I’ve seen uglier things about that amorphous emotion than anything good.

Maybe it was time for me to get a different perspective on this thing. It was time to talk to Quatre and Trowa, the only couple I knew whose love wasn’t jaded or scary.

That is why I find myself sitting on a nice chair in their living room on a Saturday night, nervously sipping my drink as I tried to make myself ask them.

“Duo,” Quatre begins, “you aren’t doing okay, are you? What’s wrong?”

How to answer that.. I go through many possibilities of what I could say in response, but in the end, I decide that truth would be my best bet.

“I was successful in my search. I found someone special.”

Gah, breathing became much easier after that admission. I had so wanted to tell these two for the longest time, but I had always stopped myself. But now that I said it out loud to someone other than myself, it seemed more real and I felt that they had the answers I needed.

“That’s great,” Quatre beamed, “so what could be wrong with that?”

“The problem isn’t being special anymore, Quatre. It’s what happens once they leave.”

I might be the only person I know who considers the imminent possibility of someone leaving one’s life when that someone had just barely made an entrance. In case you were wondering, I’m a big fan of prenuptial agreements as well. Why let the future bite you in the ass when you can mitigate damages now?

“Why are you so certain that she’ll leave?”

Ah, that Trowa, so pervasively astute yet dense..

“They all leave, Trowa. Do you know what the divorce rate is? Fifty percent. Do you know what it is when one of the spouses is an attorney? Eighty seven percent. Look at those numbers and tell me I don’t have a justified fear.”

“You’re afraid? You, Duo Maxwell, who can stand up to anyone?”

Quatre is my own personal cheerleader, but his belief in me is misplaced this time. Yes, I can stand up to most anything and argue my side of it to the death. But I have never been up against such a tough opponent before.

“Has she rejected you already?”

It is with utter seriousness that Trowa poses that question. Quatre falls silent and I am left to ponder if it is wise to answer it. Then it occurs to me. These two are my best friends. They only have my best interest in mind so I had nothing to fear with them.

“No, he thinks I’m special.”

Here, they take a short moment to process what I had just said, to make sure that they heard me right.



I nod for both of those questions, affirming what I had said only moments before.

“The person you find special,” Quatre gasps out, “is a guy?”

I dissect Quatre’s reaction carefully, looking for anything negative, but as I had said, these two would understand when no one else could.

“Now I feel silly,” Trowa says with wry humor, “for assuming that it was a girl. Why didn’t you tell us before?”

“Don’t be dense, Trowa,” Quatre says in my stead, “don’t you remember how confusing it was for you when you found out you liked guys?”

I cannot help but smile as they talk about their first realizations of being attracted to men and I find that they had much the same turmoil that I had experienced. They had gone through it as well, the doubts, the reprimands, the avoidance.

But that was no longer the problem for me because I had accepted that I found Heero very attractive indeed. The real essence of my dilemma was that now that I knew I liked Heero as much as I do, what is to be done about it?

“I’m thinking about just forgetting about him. I mean, I’m not made out for the long term relationship stuff anyway. It was stupid of me to think I needed it, you know?”

I don’t sound convincing at all. I want to make myself believe that my decision to let go of Heero was the right one, the sane choice. Somehow, though, I could not accept that. Perhaps that is the reason why I haven’t told Heero yet of my intentions.

“Duo, why are you so afraid of being special? There is no guarantee that he’ll leave you.”

Quatre is an eternal optimist so I excused his efforts to beam in the silver lining.

“Well, there’s no guarantee that he won’t, either. In fact, in the whole relationship thing, there is no guarantee of anything. There aren’t answers, only questions. The concept is riddled with uncertainty and unknowing. It’s just..”

Trowa sighed when I stopped talking and moved to sit next to me. He put his hand on my shoulder, forcing me around so that I could look him in the eyes. It is unfortunate that his clear green eyes have this awful tendency to look deep into one’s heart.

“I understand your fear, Duo. But nothing can be certain. You can only try your best.”

Yes, I know that. But my best could fail me miserably, don’t you know?

“Nothing worth anything comes without a price. The price you pay for being special is that you give up control of your own heart to someone else. It can’t be helped, but if you want it badly enough, you have to have courage.”

Is it me, or did I just drop into an afternoon school special of some sort? I don’t mean to belittle Trowa since I know that he is right, but really, who in the real world says this kind of shit and means it?

I think Quatre is catching onto the fact that Trowa’s words are having no effect on my desire to give up on my project and Heero. Sometimes, having friends who know you so damn well can work against you.

“Duo, it’s okay to be afraid,” Quatre says without being condescending, “because everyone in relationships are afraid of what might happen. But I never thought you’d be the kind of person to run just because you were afraid.”

See what I mean? Quatre had just manipulated me without breaking a sweat. He has challenged me, dared me even, to face my fears and go for it.

Damn it, I can’t back down from a challenge.

“Quatre, man,” I say with something that could have been gratitude, “you know how to drive me into a fucking corner.”

He smiles at me knowingly, encouraging me to go and make amends with my emotions. He is telling me without saying a word to face up to the fear like I faced up to accepting the beginnings of my feelings for Heero. It feels good to have their support, their faith in me.

“I guess I’ll be off then.. I suddenly have things to do.”

They both wave me out of their apartment, practically rushing me out the door. They know where I am going and I think they know what I’m going to do. They give me a last encouraging smile before something suddenly occurs to them.

“By the way Duo,” Trowa asks curiously, “who is this guy?”

I laugh as I walk down the hallway to the elevator, but I do turn and answer them.

“Heero Yuy. Surprising, isn’t it?”

The elevator arrives and I get into it, but just before the doors closed on me, I think I heard Quatre say to Trowa ‘I told you so.’

Yeah, they know me way too well.

So, now I have to go see Heero. I haven’t really figured out what to say, so I walk aimlessly around for a while to get my head together. Should I explain myself? Or should I just let him think that the reason I hadn’t seen him all week was due to work? I don’t really know, but I have to talk to him.

I need to straighten out what’s in my head.

After about an hour of walking, I realize that I still don’t know what I’m going to say so I just bite the bullet and call Heero. He answers almost immediately and agrees to meet me at my apartment.

Why did I ask him to meet me in my personal space? So that I won’t have anywhere to run when my courage deserts me. If I am to talk to him, I must block all paths of escape.

I hear that’s how wars are won.

When Heero got to my apartment, I had already been there for ten minutes, pacing around the living room like a manic depressive on the high end of the cycle. He entered when I opened the door and he immediately picked up on my agitation. He is a psychiatrist after all, is he not?

“So.. we need to talk.”

“Of course,” he answers me without hesitation and sits down to listen. The floor is all mine.

“I was avoiding you all week.”

There, the truth was out. How would he take it?

“I know.”

I look over at him sharply, noting that he did not seem offended or angry. He just sat there with this.. look of pure acceptance on his face. At this point, I add guilty to the list of emotions churning within me.

“I’m truly scared of you.. or at least, of what we could be.”

To my surprise, I’m being totally honest with him. In fact, I find that it is easier to talk to him about my feelings than it had been with Quatre and Trowa. I store away that strange bit of knowledge to gauge his reaction.

“I know that too,” Heero says carefully, “because I feel the same way.”

“Oh.. I didn’t know that. You always seem so confident with me.”

He smiles a bit ruefully and rakes his hand through his hair. He seems to be at a loss for words, but I wait for him to respond.

“That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fears of my own.”

I cannot deny him that. I should have realized that I might not be the only one afraid of relationships.

“I thought about never talking to you again.”

He does seem rather shocked at that one, but I go on before he can say anything.

“But I can’t not talk to you. I’m deathly afraid of what you can do to me, but even so, I can’t make myself not talk to you. Isn’t it just the strangest thing?”

“Strange, but fortunate for me.”

This time, I smile and I stop pacing to sit next to him. Much of my nervous tension and fear are draining out of me and the longer I talk to him, the lesser my fears get.

“This could end badly, you know. I could walk out on you, you could find a better person and leave me, I could commit a horrible crime of passion on your behalf and bury your mangled body in a ditch somewhere..”

He laughs at me and I laugh right along with him. Eventually, we stop and I feel immensely better about everything.

“I was worried about the end. I haven’t ever felt this way about anyone before, you know?”

Heero nods, understanding me perfectly. I suppose it is good for me to have a professional listener on my side.

“You have good reasons to be afraid,” Heero finally says, “because I can’t say with certainty what will happen with us in the future.. I ask only that you don’t give up on what we could have before it happens.”

“What is this ‘it’ that will happen?” I ask, half sure of the answer but half afraid of hear it.

“Us.” Heero says with a deep conviction that puts my fears back into the corner.

“Will the ‘us’ thing be special?”

“It already is.”

It is then that we make the first physical contact. It was just the barest of touches, our fingertips brushing against each other softly, but it made my heart beat faster and my breath hitch.

My fears are not gone, but they have been coaxed into resting for now. I won’t stop being afraid of what could happen in the future since I can’t abandon all I am in one night. But, the difference is, now I’m willing to try this thing and see where it takes me.

So, buckle your seatbelt and put the tray back up to its upright position, Duo Maxwell. I have a feeling that it will be a long, hectic, bumpy ride, but the destination.. it may be worth all the trouble.

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