author: 0083
genre: AU
pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xM
warning: sap? off kilter humor? ramble-fest.
disclaimer: blah blah blah (of course i don't own gw)
notes: i have no beta.. and i've been seeing triple thanks to my meds. so.. hmmmm..

Special + Part 18

-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 upper hand.

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.

Sneaky bastard..

"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 on him.

"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 them.

"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 act.

"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.. informational.

"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.."

"Huh?"

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, didn't 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 shocked.

"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.

"You what?"

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 me?

"I said," Heero says with a tinge of humor, "I love you. So, please, don't be angry. I can't bear it any longer."

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 half-assed apology.

"I.. I shouldn't have said that, it was completely inappropriate.."

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 completely.

"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 my family?"

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 fucked up.

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 him.

[part 17] [part 19] [back to 0083's fic]