author: 0083
pairings: 1x2 main, other side couples
genre: AU
warning: angst, potty language
notes: i don't do the beta thingie so excuse the incidental errors.

Special + Part 22

-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 seemed.

"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 consequences.

Wasn't I?

"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 different?

"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 emotions.

"Yeah," my brother actually replies, "bring the damned bottle."

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 the bottle.

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 light it.

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 downhill.

"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.. 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 happened."

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 my life?"

"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 sounds?"

"It is not wrong! Jesus, Solo, what is so damned wrong about being in love with Heero?"

"Everything!"

"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? Mom? Dad?"

"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 about it!"

"So you choose that queer over your family, is that it?"

"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.

"Solo.."

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 brother.

My brother who teased me about my first kiss in second grade.

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 in love.

[part 21] [part 23] [back to 0083's fic]