- The Seventeenth Encounter -
Some would say it is reasonable for me to feel a bit
nervous at the prospect of having it out with Heero,
but I cannot accept that. I refuse to bounce from
nervous tension at our upcoming confrontation,
discussion or whatever it is going to be – after all,
this time, I’m in the right and therefore have the
Having the upper hand means I have the advantage, the
control, so I should be fine. Then again, this isn’t
like a case or a deposition. This is my love life on
the line, the only love life I have known with any
meaning attached to it.
Heero knocks on my door a scant ten minutes after I
hung up on him and I am pretty sure that he sped and
broke some major traffic laws to make it in that time.
That gives me some extra measure of confidence
because it means he really wants this to work out as
well. If we are of the same mind about the outcome,
not much should go wrong, right?
When I open the door and finally see him standing
there with a winded look about him, I discover once
again why it was that I found him so special. It
wasn’t just how good he looked, but how he could make
me feel better just by being there. When that had
occurred, I’m not quite sure, but somewhere along the
way, Heero had somehow made himself indispensable to
my peace of mind.
“Hi.” He says in greeting, his tone slightly hesitant
and his body language shy and uncertain. It seems as
if he’s bracing himself for rejection and I take pity
“Come in, Heero. We have lots to clear up.”
Heero walks in without his usual confidence, his steps
nearly faltering as he passed me. I gestured toward
the couch in an implicit order for him to sit down and
he complied without any objections. It was about then
that I should have begun speaking, but I found that my
mouth was mutinying.
Cobalt eyes filled with trepidation and concern stared
at me as I tried to get my voice to cooperate with me.
Heero did not attempt to speak first at all, leaving
me to begin the conversation and set the mood. It was
my call, my prerogative, so what does my brain decide
to convey to my vocal cords?
“Do you want something to eat or drink?”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, even though I
could have said anything at all without any fear of
recrimination or retaliation, I decided to go formal.
Formality, in case you were wondering, is the armor of
the insecure and the uncertain.
That should not have been me.
“Uh, sure,” Heero responds a bit confusedly, “whatever
you have available..”
Honestly, I do not think he wants anything to eat or
drink because if he was feeling half the roiling
emotions I was feeling, he should have been quite
nauseous. But as I said, formality, courtesy, and
stiff social mannerisms cloaked those intense words
bubbling just beneath the surface.
In a bit of a daze, I wandered into the kitchen and
opened the fridge to comply with Heero’s request. It
was then that I realized that I had just returned from
an extended visit to my parent’s house and my fridge
was not in any condition to serve guests.
“Urm.. Heero..” I mutter in embarrassment, “I think I
can offer you.. water.. from the tap.”
“That’s just fine.” He replies with alacrity. I
suppose at this point I could have offered him rat
poison with a side of absinthe and he would’ve taken
“I don’t mean to be rude,” I continue on, my mouth
running off without my permission, “but I don’t have
anything deemed edible in here. I have something that
could be considered a colony of new life forms, I
think that thing in the corner may have gained
intelligent life and.. oh Jesus, I don’t even want to
know what is in this box..”
I could have continued indefinitely, telling Heero of
the massive wrongness that I had perpetrated on my
fridge by neglecting it for so long, if I had not
heard a sound that I had missed. I heard him laugh.
It began as a chuckle, really, a soft but tingling
sound that floated through the air. The sound grew
louder and merrier until it was a full fledged laugh,
the beauty of it invading my kitchen like an army of
flower petals, washing over me and settling my soul.
“I missed that,” I say as I walk out of the kitchen,
“the way you laugh.”
Heero looks at me with this gentle sparkle in his
eyes, but it lasts only a moment before it is replaced
by an apology. I suppose he thought that the laughter
was inappropriate considering that he was here so that
we could work out some serious issues, but the truth
of it was.. his laugh had already smoothed over so
much of the emotional turmoil within me.
For the hundredth time, I have to wonder how it is
that Heero can make everything okay with just a simple
“I missed you as well. Almost too desperately..”
He said it so softly that I thought I had imagined it
for a moment. But it was not my imagination – it
really was Heero, sitting there looking somewhat
desolate and hopeful on my couch, telling me that he
had truly, desperately missed me.
How can I fight against that?
“So.. I am still pissed, you know.”
“I know,” he tells me, “and you have every right.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
For a short second, I can see Heero contemplate that
question, turning it over in his mind, trying to find
the correct way to answer. I let him think, because I
want his answer to be complete, honest and..
“At first,” Heero begins, “I didn’t say anything
because you were so unsure about your feelings for me.
I did not wish to drive you away before we could
begin. Then when you finally came to terms with me,
it was so new to you that I didn’t want to give you
reasons to doubt me. And when I realized just how
much I had fallen for you and that you wouldn’t leave
me, I was afraid to give you something that could have
destroyed what I had so hoped and longed for..”
That is the thing, you know? For some reason, all
throughout our relationship, I had always assumed that
Heero had it under control. To me, Heero had always
been so damned confident about us, even when I was
acting the fool. Sure, I knew he had some
insecurities, but I had presumed that he knew how to
deal with them accordingly, that he had no paralyzing
fears about us. Not like me.
But assumptions lead a person astray, and I followed
its twisted path all the way. Heero’s confidence in
us.. it must have been tempered greatly by the
presence of her in his life. Everyday, he must have
been tormented with the secret, not knowing how to
tell me, not wanting to know how I’d react to it. He
would spend time with me, relaxed, content and happy
then go home to the girl he did not want.
“It must’ve hurt, Heero..”
He looks confused and that is a rare occurrence in my
book. Usually, it is I who is confused about
everything, not Heero. He is the one who is supposed
to be the expert on the inner workings of the human
psyche and emotions, for he guides others through the
mess that is in their heads every day. But I have
stumped him with my cryptic remark.
“I mean,” I explain as I kneel down by the couch to
stare into his eyes, “you must have felt so much
damned guilt.. for not telling me. And so much fear
that I’d.. do exactly what I did. All that time we
were together.. you had it bottled up inside you,
His eyes brightened and his hand on the arm of the
couch tightened until I thought the knuckles would
burst forth from the skin. He looked.. shell
“I was so damned angry that you’d deceived me. I kept
thinking that if you cared about me, you would have
told me. I told myself that if I were in your shoes,
I’d have told her the truth if only to be fair. I
thought of you badly, calling you names, cursing you.
But in all that time, I never paused to think that it
hurt you. I failed to see how much you feared telling
me. I’m sorry for that.”
I was not ready for Heero to lunge out of the couch to
hold me at all. Had I been prepared, I may have not
dropped that silly cup of water that I had forgotten
about in my hand. But once I felt him hug me close, I
did not care about the water soaking into my carpet.
“Duo,” he breathes, “I’m the one who is sorry. I
should have told you from the beginning, whether or
not I was afraid of losing you. You deserve so much
better than this, more than what I have given you.”
Well, if that doesn’t make my heart melt with
sentimental goodness.. oh, but wait, I’m still mad at
him. Yes, we still have to resolve that tiny issue.
“Heero,” I say into his hair, “what I deserve or not
is a question you cannot answer. So, that aside, tell
me why I should stop being angry with you.”
I am nothing if not blunt, but it does cut through a
lot of the crap sometimes.
“Because I love you.”
It was one of those moments in life where everything
came to a complete stand-still, a small piece of time
when all things froze in their exact place. The earth
stopped rotating and skidded off its axis, taking me
on a wild ride, spinning me out of orbit as the words
settled into my brain.
I think I expected Heero to tell me that I should not
be angry at him because I did nearly the same thing
with my parents as he did with her, each of us keeping
the other a secret from the more vital people of our
lives. I was ready to hear him make parallels and
start justifying his decision in light of mine,
arguing with me logically and reasonably.
Not in a million years would I have expected Heero’s
sudden and heart stopping declaration of love. I
mean, I admit to myself that I’m in love with the man
on a regular basis, but I had never, ever said it out
loud, always afraid that he would not feel the same.
The fear had clamped me from voicing my tentative
feelings. Then all of a sudden, in the wake of a
terrible revelation, apology and reconnecting, Heero
decided to give me a heart attack.
Imagine the most awkward moment of your life and
multiply it by a hundred and then you get the
situation I’m in currently. This is the frozen
tableau: Heero and I are interlocked in an embrace,
our arms nearly cutting off circulation below the
fifth lumbar vertebrae. He declared his love for me
in the most inconspicuous voice, and I answered with
shock and disbelief.
Why can’t someone write me a goddamned script so that
I don’t fuck up when someone declares that he loves
“I said,” Heero says with a tinge of humor, “I love
you. So, please, don’t be angry. I can’t bear it any
I finally come to my senses and push myself away from
Heero to look at him, my eyes taking in every critical
detail of his face. His voice sounded like he meant
it, but what of his eyes, his face? I search
desperately for a sign that he was telling me the
truth and I find them in abundance.
He really does love me.
And I just pushed him away. Ah, shit, I did it again.
I realize my mistake too late for Heero is already
trying to hide the pained gleam in his eyes with a
“I.. I shouldn’t have said that, it was completely
Oh no he can’t, damn it! He cannot tell me he loves
me and then feel sorry about it, I absolutely refuse
to hear that shit.
“No, no,” I tumble out quickly, “don’t be sorry. It’s
my fault. You caught me by surprise.”
“Oh.” That is all that he says as he kind of crumbles
to a sitting position on the arm of my couch. I must
make amends for my verbal slip before Heero becomes
too despondent to hear me.
“This is almost ridiculous, you know?” I say to
lighten the mood, but realize that I did more damage
than good when Heero slumps further. I should really
learn to control the impulse in my brain that forces
me to say things before I think them through
“I mean,” I continue, “look at us. You love me and I
love you.. and we have the weirdest situation on our
hands. You have a fiancée who doesn’t know you’re gay
and I have parents who’d die if they found out that I
had a boyfriend. Oh shit, my parents! They are going
to disown me after they recover from apoplexy, I just
know it. And you! That girl is going to die on you
if she knew. What the hell, I knew love would be
complicated, but this is utterly stupid.”
I’m so busy thinking about the consequences of our
relationship to the people in our lives that I almost
miss this transformation of Heero’s face. The look of
sadness and disappointed dreams seeped away from his
beautiful face, leaving behind this glowing,
translucent visage in its wake.
“You..” Heero clears his throat and starts again.
“You love me.”
Oh. I replay the words I spoke and realize that I had
said it. Really said it. I’ll be damned.
“No shit, Heero. Why else would I risk the health of
We stare at each other for a while after that, lost in
the moment. You know, I never imagined that I’d tell
another man I loved him, let alone in the fashion that
it had happened. Although I gathered from my friends
and various books on the topic that declarations of
love happened spontaneously at the most unexpected
times, I never thought that my moment would be this
But you know what? Despite all that, it was still
perfect. How odd.
“So,” Heero says softly as he gazes into my eyes,
“what do we do now?”
Yes, indeed, what do we do now? The love is there.
The desire to be with each other is certainly present.
The will to work it through is also in attendance.
But what can we do?
I don’t know and I’m pretty damned sure Heero doesn’t
know either. But we’re smart people, aren’t we? We
should be able to figure it out, right?
Oh god, I hope so.. because I really am in love with