- The Twenty-First Encounter -
Ever heard of the short phrase deadly silence? How
about quiet enough to hear a pin drop? Familiar with
any of those? Well, apparently, Solo was not at all
acquainted with any of those adages because he went
off on a rant. As soon as it sank in that I was not
dating a woman but a man who happened to be sitting
right by him, all hell broke loose.
Let me tally just what I think might have happened.
Solo pounded on the table with each incoherent word,
making the dessert forks bounce in cadence with his
rage. Heero slowly edged away from Solo and his
flailing limbs, most likely to avoid becoming a
permanent member of the emergency ward. Lucy and
Milliardo watched in avid horror as Solo escalated in
volume of words and decibels, while I just sat there
as my brother turned red in the face. Through all
this, I could not discern a single, coherent word
because Solo was too shocked and angry to use actual
words of the English language.
After what seemed to be forever, Solo must have run
out of steam and breath because he just stopped in the
middle of the tirade. As in, one minute he’s
screaming and spraying spittle in my face and the
next, he was quiet. Really, terribly quiet.
I looked warily at my brother in the uncomfortable
silence as he breathed harshly. His body seemed
entirely supported by his arms which were pressed down
on the table with such tension that I could hear bone
snapping while his head hung low. I wanted to see his
eyes, I had to see if he was truly as angry as he had
“Solo,” I ventured when the silence became unbearable,
“are you okay?”
As expected, there was no answer from my brother. I
did, however, score a look of chagrin from the rest of
the occupants of the dinner table, most especially
Heero. The silence fell again after my failed attempt
at trying to smooth things over and I had no idea
where to go from there. I did not know what to say,
what to do, to make this situation all right with
everyone. Perhaps coming out to my brother during
Christmas Eve dinner had not been my most stellar
idea, but it was done. I was ready for the
“Erm..” I said into the tension, “thanks for coming to
the dinner. I’ll.. uh.. call. We should hang out
some more.. Bye. Merry Christmas.”
Lucy and Milliardo took my offer of an escape gladly.
They hurriedly tumbled through some trivial good byes
and wishes of a good holiday and practically ran out
of my apartment. I do not blame them for leaving as
they did. I am just surprised that they did not run
as soon as Solo heard the news. Heero, however,
frowned a little and refused to budge, not even when
Lucy motioned for him to follow their intelligent move
to leave. He sat and crossed his arms obstinately in
front of him, ready and willing to face the wrath of
Solo with me.
Honestly, the fact that Heero was willing to brave
this out with me warmed me considerably. He would
stay by my side, only if to cart me off to the
hospital after Solo was through with me. It was very
thoughtful of him, but this was my brother. I would
deal with him on my own.
“Heero, you should go.” I said softly, adding
‘please’ with my eyes.
The stubborn look faded from his eyes when he saw the
look in my eyes, replaced by a deep concern. He
opened his mouth to argue, changed his mind when he
saw me pleading quietly with him and just sighed.
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Heero nodded and edged around Solo who had yet to
move. He reached out his hand as if to give me a
reassuring touch, but then he thought better of it.
Neither of us really knew what would set Solo off
again, but we both silently agreed that touching would
not be a good idea about now. With another sigh,
Heero gave me one last look of worry, picked up his
coat and left.
I do not know how long after everyone left that Solo
and I refused to move, but it was long enough for me
to feel a cramp ride up my calves to my knees. Even
then, we were unable to make a move, neither of us
knowing how to begin what was about to come.
I think I mentioned before that I solve all my
problems with alcohol, right? Why should now be any
“Want a drink, Solo?”
My voice is raspy, but the nervous anxiety is gone.
By now, I think I am too tired and numb to have any
“Yeah,” my brother actually replies, “bring the damned
With that, Solo pushes off the table and stalks over
to the couch. He falls into the seat rather than
taking a seat and I can hear his joints pop from the
kitchen as I retrieve a bottle of scotch.
I join my brother on the couch and pour us a finger of
scotch which we both down like a shot. I pour another
then another. We drink as if it was the end of the
world, not pausing between the drinks to even take a
breath. Around our seventh drink, I wonder if I
should have bothered with the glasses at all since it
would’ve been more productive if we had swigged from
We finish the bottle in record time and I silently
thank the gods that the bottle had only been half
full. If it had been a full bottle, we both may have
had to go to the emergency room for sibling stomach
pumping, something we did not need. But I can feel
the alcohol cruising through my system, turning my
lips and fingertips numb.
The alcohol also seems to have drained some tension
out of Solo’s shoulders because he slumps forward
slightly. Normally, I would reach out and joke with
him about his inability to handle liquor as well as I,
but I cannot do that now. Instead, I watch as he digs
out a cigarette from his pack out of his pocket and
The smoke exhaled by Solo clouds and drifts in my
living room, leaving little trails before
disappearing. I stare at the dance of the smoke with
slightly bleary eyes before reaching for the pack
myself. It is not often that I smoke, but I think
this situation warrants it.
“Thought you quit, little man.”
Startled that Solo had spoken, I choke a little on the
cigarette and cough out a series of cloudy smoke.
When I no longer feel my lungs seizing, I answer.
“I cut back, not quit. Quitting is for losers.”
“Yeah,” Solo says as he pulls from his cigarette, “but
that’s the least of my worries.”
We fall back into silence, but the ice had been
broken. What would come next?
“Little man,” Solo sighs, “how could you?”
“How could I what?” I answer, my voice tinged with
bitterness, “be in love?”
“Don’t get fucking defensive on me. I’m not the one
who decided one day to be gay.”
Well, if things aren’t just progressing rapidly
“Yeah, that’s right, Solo,” I say, heat of anger
evident in my tone, “one day, I suddenly woke up and
said, oh lookie, I’m fucking gay.”
“Shut the fuck up! You.. how could you? Is this
your idea of a joke? Jesus, Duo, you have a
boyfriend! You are a goddamned fairy!”
At this point, I abandon all semblance of composure.
“Oh yeah, that’s right, Solo. Why don’t you tell me
some more what the hell I am because lately, I can’t
seem to tell! Do you think this is easy for me? Do
you have any idea the shit I went through when I..
“When you what?” Solo yells, nearly standing in his
rage, “when you decided to like dick?”
“Fucking Christ! Why are you so damned convinced I
chose this? I didn’t! If I could have, I would have
loved a woman, if only to spare myself of this crap.
It just happened, goddamn it. I met Heero and it just
I lose steam and I can feel the frustration coil
within me tightly. What can I say to make this right?
Why must this be so difficult?
“Just happened?” Solo growls, leaning closer to me,
“shit like this don’t just happen. You don’t fucking
ruin your life without deciding to do it.”
“Ruin my life?” I say, my voice filled with
disbelieving confusion, “how the hell does this ruin
“Your job! Your family! Your fucking life!”
I can’t reply to that, because those are the things
that have been in my mind ever since I started being
with Heero. Our relationship could have serious
repercussions, like now for example. I knew this, I
told myself all this, but finally, right now as Solo
stares at me with murder and betrayal in his eyes, I
see what I should have seen.
“Heero..” I begin softly, “isn’t going to ruin my
life. He won’t let himself do that.”
“No, of course not,” Solo answers sarcastically,
“because you’re doing a hell of a job on your own. A
boyfriend. You. Do you have any idea how wrong that
“It is not wrong! Jesus, Solo, what is so damned
wrong about being in love with Heero?”
“You’re the one who’s wrong, Solo,” I say, my voice
rising along with my frayed temper, “I thought it was
wrong at first, but it isn’t. Do you know he loves
me? Do you know how happy I am when I’m with him,
that he makes me feel okay just by being there?”
“You are fucking crazy,” Solo replies, equally angry,
“listen to yourself! You sound like a goddamned girl!
He loves me, he makes me happy.. well, what about
the rest of the people in your life? What about me?
“I didn’t fall for him to make you or mom happy! I
did it for me. Don’t you think I agonized over how to
tell you and them? It made me physically ill to think
“So you choose that queer over your family, is that
“No! Damn it, Solo, it should not be about choosing!
You’re supposed to accept me in any way that I am!
You’re family. I’d never condemn you like this for
anything, damn it!”
“Well,” Solo says as he gets dangerously close to me,
“I’m not you! I never could be because you were
always so much better than me! And now look at you.
You’re.. you’re disgusting.”
I roughly shove Solo away from me and stand. Yes, I
can understand why Solo is acting this way, because,
let’s face it, I did shock him. And after all, there
have been times when I have wondered why it was that I
had to love a guy instead of a woman. During those
times, I ran from Heero, avoided him, hurt him, but in
the end, I was always back with him. I am in love
with him. He is in love with me. That is not wrong,
that cannot be wrong, I am convince of that if nothing
else. Why couldn’t Solo see it the way I did?
“I’m leaving,” I hear Solo say, “I can’t take this
shit any more.”
“You’re drunk, Solo.”
“I’ll take a bus.”
“But,” I say as I reach out to stop him, worried that
he might do something foolish.
“Don’t fucking touch me! You.. I don’t know you.”
I freeze like he had hit me in the solar plexus.
Actually, it may have been more merciful if he had
because I don’t think it would have hurt this much.
In all my life, I have never lost anyone close and
dear to me. I have always been lucky, not knowing
that kind of pain. Until now.
I could only stand there as Solo packed up his things
and left without even saying good bye. My brother, my
only brother, shut the door to my apartment with a
final click, leaving me all alone.
My brother who I have idolized since I was born.
My brother who took on the neighborhood bully with me
only to find out that the bully had a bigger, older
My brother who teased me about my first kiss in second
My brother who was always so proud of me, supported me
and loved me.
He was gone. He had abandoned me, all because I was