author: 0083
genre: AU
pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xM, 6x9
warnings: a lag before the explosion
notes: i'm up to part 21 and it's because of my muse caro who diligently dusts me with ideas.

Special + Part 21

-The Twentieth Encounter-

I have had sex with god knows how many women, but I have never actually slept with them. I did not cuddle, I did not stick around after the act, there was no such thing as spending the night. All that stuff was really personal and private, so I had never had the urge to do it with any of my female companions.

Therefore, when I woke up early on Monday on my couch with Heero draped on me, I was utterly surprised. At first, I couldn't recall how and why we were sleeping on my couch, together, entwined, you get the picture, then I remembered that he had decided to stay with me. That sent a whole army of warm and fuzzy feelings tingling up my spine and I just watched him sleep for a while.

To be honest, I have not actually seen someone sleep in a long time, especially not this close. Heero's head was on my chest, his hair tousled and tangled about his head, snarling on the buttons of my shirt. I felt him breathe softly, his chest impressing into mine with every little breath. I saw the rosy glow on his cheek, the way his hand grasped loosely at my braid that lay near his face.. it was all very sweet.

Until I noticed that he was drooling. On my braid.

In an instant, I was up and out of the couch, cradling my sodden hair with a horrified whimper in my throat. In my haste to protect my braid, I dropped Heero onto the floor in an ungraceful lump, waking him up in the rudest and the most unpleasant way possible. But damn it, this is my hair we're talking about!

"Ow.." Heero says in the way of a morning greeting, "if this is how you wake up every morning, I'm not sleeping with you again."

He raises his head and stares at me rather balefully, like him ending up on the floor face first was my fault somehow.

"You did not sleep with me!" I reply, absolutely incredulous, "it should be me saying that to you! Look what you did! See?"

At that point, I crouched in front of Heero's still prone form and shoved my wet, droopy braid into his face, wagging it around like a battle flag.

"It's icky! And wet! I thought you loved me!"

Heero just lay there, staring hypnotically at my hair being waved around his face, his eyes following the movement side to side. At first, he looked confused, as if he had no idea what I was talking about, then suddenly, it was as if he had an epiphany.

He laughed.

"Oh, did I do that to your hair?"

"I don't see anyone else around here who slept on me the entire night, do you?"

"If it wasn't me, I hope he's gone by now."

The utter incredulousness of the situation renders me speechless. I take stock of the morning and realize that this is absolutely silly. Here I am, twitching my hair at my boyfriend whom I tossed onto the floor. Sure, I had good reasons for everything, but that did not make this situation any less silly.

"Well," Heero grunts as he picks himself up off the floor, "I don't know about you, but I have some crazy people waiting for me at work."

Oh, yes, it is a Monday and I have my own set of crazies awaiting my arrival.

"If I didn't have work, I'd take the time to really make you sorry."

My voice promised retribution at a later date, very ominous and dire, but it only made Heero smile bigger.

"I wait for the day."

I snarl not too pleasantly and look over at the clock on the mantle. It was only six thirty in the morning and I did not need to be at work for yet another two and a half hours. No wonder I was feeling snappish, it was way too early in the morning.

"Get going, Heero, isn't Relena waiting for you?"

Perhaps that was not the right thing to say for Heero's face went from smiling at me to frowning deeply in a moment's time. I think, despite my apparent nasty nature early in the morning, he was enjoying our first morning together. He had been bantering with me, smiling the whole time, as if he had been waiting for this moment for a long time. I'm pretty sure that it was not exactly what he imagined it would be, what with getting tossed off the couch and all, but still, I think he was loving it.

Until now, anyway.

"Right," he replies, his voice lower and more serious, "I purposefully forgot about her last night. Now I have to go home to change and explain where I was all night."

I shake my head as I extend my hand to help him stand. I give him a pinched look, my eyes clearly conveying just what I thought of that.

"Heero, you are so fucking whipped."

"I know," he replies without rancor, "and it makes me ill, more than it makes you mad. I have to fix this soon."

"Absolutely," I say in good cheer, "and I'll make some reservations at the hospital. You and I can have beds next to each other. Oh, and I'm sure Relena and Solo will bring us lovely gifts for putting us in there."

"You're taking this awfully well."

"I have already condemned myself for Christmas Eve. I fear nothing."

On that note, I leaned into Heero and gave him a chaste good morning kiss which also served as a good bye kiss. When he tried to deepen it, I backed away and playfully pushed him towards the door.

"Heero, I love you, but there is no way I'm letting you kiss me like that before the brushing of the teeth ritual."

"What," he says as he smiles once again, "can't brave a bit of morning breath for love?"

"I do have my sensibilities."

He laughed, gave me a wave and stepped out of the door, wrinkly clothes and jacket in hand. I stared at the closed door with a goofy smile for a bit, then got myself together to step into the shower. After all, I still had Heero's soggy germs incubating in my hair.

When I got to work, I was early due to the fact that I had gotten up before the sun had risen, but I didn't mind it one bit even though it was a Monday. I was in a fairly good mood, having woken entangled with Heero, and was ready to face the day with a smile and a twinkle. Well, that did not last very long.

Around lunch time, I actually realized that it was only two days before Christmas Eve and my anxiety level climbed up several notches. Sure, it had been easy enough to forget with Heero calming my naturally high strung self, but by myself, at work no less, it was easy for my imagination to run wild at the potential disaster of the future. I tried many things to get my mind off the impending dinner, from working very hard to surfing the internet for Heero's presents. Let us just say that nothing really worked and I was a wreck by the end of the day.

The next day, I fared no better as the anxious tension within me rose yet another level. My co-workers noticed that I seemed more nervous than usual and gave me sympathetic nods, chalking my strangeness up to the holiday blues. My secretary took extra care to make sure that I ate and made meetings on time. The only times that I felt the tension drain was when Heero or my friends called me at the office to take my mind off things and even those did not last very long.

I suppose it is fair to say that when I woke up on the day of Christams Eve, I was ready to bury myself beneath a large pile of blankets with no plans of facing reality.

Oh, but there were many things to do, so I had to get up and force myself through it all. I had to set up the dinner, clean up the apartment, call Quatre and Trowa to wish them a merry holiday, run over to Wufei and Meiran's for a drink before they ran off to a family dinner and call Heero to clear up some minor time changes in the day.

There were many details that I tended to during the day, enough so that I had not the time to really think about what was about to happen. That reality crash landed on my face when my brother arrived.

Around four in the afternoon, just as the sky was beginning to show signs of dimming, there was a distinct knock on my door. A tap, tap and rest then a tap. My brother had arrived and it was about to begin.

"Little man!" My brother greets me with enthusiasm as he hugs me breathless, "it's good to see you again."

I nod, hoping that the look on my face is inviting, not sickly, and usher him into the apartment. Solo follows, hefting his small duffel at his side, and whistles as he steps into my home.

"Man, Duo, did you get a new entertainment center?"

"Yeah," I reply, thankful for some mindless chatter, "I picked up the system last May. Pretty cool, isn't it?"

We talk about electronics and other manly things as I lead him to my spare room. There was nothing but work there, computer desk and piles of papers taking up all available space, but it was the only space I had in which Solo could drop his things off. After all, we had guests coming and I couldn't have him setting up shop in the living room like he always did.

After settling Solo into the room, we stepped out into the living room to finish setting up for the dinner. I had five places set as per the number of people to show up for this dinner party, and Solo asked me who they were. To anyone else, it would seem an innocuous question, but in my current state of mind, it was like he had asked me something else entirely.

"Uh," I hesitate, not truly knowing what to say, "Heero, Zechs and Noin."

I figure that name giving was the safest course to go about it. I was hoping to introduce Heero to him as my boyfriend when there were witnesses around. Call me paranoid, but I really didn't want to tell Solo when we were all alone.

Thankfully, Solo just nodded and went about bringing out the food from the kitchen. I guess he thought they were just friends of mine and had no real desire to know about them before he met them. That was a good thing, for Heero was a dangerous topic and I had no idea who Zechs and Noin were.

Time ticked by as Solo and I puttered around, my brother seeming relaxed and I getting wound tighter as each second passed. By the time I heard the knock at the door, I was ready to pass out from all the self imposed stress.

"Hey, your friends are here, little man."

So they are.

I opened the door and the first face I see is Heero's, smiling a bit weakly but happily. Behind him were two people I assume are his friends and they were eyeing me curiously.

"Why don't you come in."

If I look as bad as I sound, Solo may not need to kill me. I just may pass onto the next world on my own.

Three somber faced people stepped in, Heero tossing me a look of barely concealed concern and the other two nodding at me somewhat sympathetically. I suppose Heero told his friends about what was about to happen to their Christmas Eve. After all, how fair is it to invite people to a Christmas Eve dinner without letting them know of all the pertinent facts?

"Hey!" my brother breaks into the unseen tension cheerfully, "I'm Solo, Duo's older brother. You guys must me his friends, huh?"

I was about to garner up my courage and spill it all out, but I was beaten by one of Heero's friends, a guy with long, platinum blond hair and ice blue eyes in an impeccably tailored suit.

"Yes, yes we are," he says, his voice smooth and cultured, "I'm Milliardo Peacecraft and this lovely young lady is my fiancée, Lucrecia."

As the three of them exchange handshakes and pleasantries, I wonder about the introduction. I thought Heero's friends' names were Zechs and Noin. Had he brought the wrong set of people?

"Please call me Lucy," says the lovely dark haired woman, "and don't pick up on Heero's habits and call me Noin! It's rather annoying."

"Yes, that's correct," Milliardo breaks in with a laugh, "and don't call me Zechs either. It's a silly nickname left over from college."

There was a round of laughter, a definite sign that Milliardo, Lucy and Solo were getting along famously, while Heero and I stood slightly off to the side and watched the show with a pleasant surprise.

"Heero," I say in a low whisper to avoid being heard by anyone else, "maybe this evening won't be so bad?"

"I hope so," Heero says in an equally low voice, "because those two really want to get to know you."

Just then, Solo turned and came walking towards us with Milliardo and Lucy in tow. My large living room suddenly seemed very tiny and I was beginning to feel claustrophobic.

"So, you're Heero, right? I'm Solo."

Okay, very friendly and open, so I'm guessing that Milliardo and Lucy did not tell my brother that Heero was more than just a friend.

"Yes, hello," I hear Heero reply with a bit of a tremor, "how are you?"

Trite greetings, banal small talk, boring questions. Usually, I truly hate those things, but right now, I was hoping it could go on for a long while. But then again, everyone had been introduced already and it wasn't as if Solo was asking me what my relationship to Heero was. I mean, is it truly necessary to jump in now and say 'by the way, brother, did I mention Heero's my boyfriend?'

I conclude that it isn't and so without having revealed the nature of Heero and my relationship to Solo, the five of us sit down for dinner. The meal is almost pleasant, with all of us talking about something or another and I think that maybe, just maybe, Christmas Eve has been salvaged and I have managed to escape the doom.

Right, and there really is a Santa.

"So, little man," Solo says as we nibble on the dessert, "where is that lady you are dating? You two make up yet?"

I don't think Solo noticed, but everyone at the table suddenly tenses up at the question, most notably me and Heero. I could no longer think to escape me telling Solo. It was now or never.

"Well," I say, noting that my voice is not its usual pitch, "there's this issue.."

Solo grimaces a little and wags his fork at me in an admonishing gesture.

"Little man, don't tell me you did not apologize."

"No, no," I say, panic close to the surface, "I did, we're all good now."

"And.." Solo trails off in an indication that I should pick up the story.

"And.." I pause, taking a long drink out of my wine glass, "and.. you're sitting next to him."

For a long moment, Solo looks confused. He first stares at Heero who is sitting next to him by the way, shakes his head and stares at Lucy. Lucy frantically shakes her head in a negative which is echoed by Milliardo and Solo's eyes switch back to me, then to Heero, then to me.

That goes on for a while and then understanding suddenly dawns in Solo's eyes.

"WHAT?"

The chair Solo had been occupying gets knocked over as he stands suddenly, his hands on the table and his face a study of incredulous disbelief. Everyone freezes like deer caught in a head light and I bravely face my brother with a wan smile.

"Say hello to my boyfriend, Heero, Solo."

[part 20] [part 22] [back to 0083's fic]