- 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
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?
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
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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
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
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
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 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
“I’m truly scared of you.. or at least, of what we
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
“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
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
“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
“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
He laughs at me and I laugh right along with him.
Eventually, we stop and I feel immensely better about
“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
“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
“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.