author: 0083
title: special
pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xM, miscellany
warnings: bit of angst? but it's okay
notes: not betaed. ignore the errors, if you would.

Special + Part 23

-The Twenty-Second Encounter-

To say that my Christmas Day was utter hell would be like saying that Antarctica was cold ­ both totally and completely true and obvious understatements. After Solo left and I drank profoundly more alcohol than I should have, I woke up to nasty, evil Christmas elves hammering away inside of my skull singing merry songs which I later discovered to be the television that I had left on all night. Shortly thereafter was the hangover, the serious depression about the situation with my brother and the need to drown myself yet again in the nefarious fire water.

That was the extent of my Christmas. Of course, I called my brother several times on his cell and his land line, begging, pleading, whining for him to just let me know that he had made it back home in one piece. He never did pick up and so I left him messages, many messages.

I just wanted to know that he wasn’t dead or arrested, but I suppose my sin of having a boyfriend was too great in Solo’s eyes for him to deign to tell me of his well being. Why was I being so paranoid about Solo’s health and legal status? Because I staggered down to the garage of my apartment to arrange for towing his car back to his home when I discovered that it was not there. Yeah, my brother drove off after our drinking screamfest.

Neither of us acted very intelligently, but I suppose that since we were so damned messed up, it should be somewhat excused.

Anyway, back to my crappy ass Christmas.. I did not believe my Christmas could have been any worse than back when I was fourteen and I lit the Christmas tree on fire by sneaking a smoke underneath it, but no, this one beat that one by a long shot. At least back then, my brother stood up for me and tried to lie to our dad about how it was he who had smoked, not me. He had my back then.

Who has it now?

To make matters worse, none of my friends were available for a talk or a rant. They were all off with their respective families, carving the goose, opening gifts and drinking of the nog. There was no way that I was going to intrude upon their happy gatherings to sniffle about my ugly situation. I am a better person than that. But couldn’t any of them have thought of me and called me instead?

And true to form, Heero had gone off with Relena and her family for his torture fest. I wanted to call him all day, just to say something, anything, hear his damned voice for some comfort, but I knew that it would be awkward for him if I had. I did not want to add to his misery with my own.

Although, I must admit, it rather peeved me that he did not call me at all. Heero had been at the dinner and probably could have guessed the magnitude of wrongness that would be perpetrated the moment he left. He knew me, damn it, and knew what telling my brother entailed. He could have at least shown some semblance of concern and called me, even if only for a moment, to make sure I had not ended up in a hospital or in the morgue.

So, there it is, my Christmas in a nutshell. Depression, self pity, bitter anger and complete inability to deal.

I had never been so glad to be back at work the next day.

Since drinking would have driven me to the point of insanity, I chose to drive myself into my work as it was my only saving grace. Despite the fact that none of my psychosis was any fault of my friends or even Heero’s, I was too irrationally angry at them for not bothering to contact me during Christmas to answer their calls. My secretary was left to fend them off with various versions of ‘Mr. Maxwell is in a meeting’ the entire day while I immersed myself deeper and deeper into other people’s problems.

I stayed at my office well past midnight and when I finally got home, I felt tired enough to drift off into sleep immediately. I didn’t bother checking for messages as I usually did, ignoring the possibility that my friends and Heero were worried for me. I was still angry, at them, at me, at Solo. More than that, there was this bone deep depression that just.. well, I stopped caring.

This went on until New Year’s Eve and would have continued if my friends were not the persistent bastards that they are.

Around ten in the evening on New Year’s Eve, I dragged my exhausted self out of the office, lugging my briefcase as if it weighed a ton into the busy streets filled with revelers. People were laughing, running off to some party or another, exuding this sense of happiness and joyousness that contrasted too sharply with my depressed, angry mood. They annoyed me greatly with their sheer exuberance for life, rubbing the fact that I was miserable into my face without even noticing. I almost gave into the urge to swear at all of them and drop them like flies with a semi-automatic weapon.

It was during this sad and bitter trudge home when I was accosted by an angry blond who dragged me into a shiny, red car.

Quatre.

For a moment, there was a thick silence as I sat in the passenger side with a sullen grimace on my face. Quatre had scrambled into the driver’s side as soon as he had shoved me head first into the car, almost as if he was afraid that I would bolt if he was not watching closely. I might have, had I the energy.

I sat and waited for Quatre to get his breathing and the nervous tick by his right eye under control. I knew that I was in for a serious lecture, most likely involving many profanities and slurs about my personality, but I could not bring myself to be grateful for his intervention. After all, where had he been when I had been at my lowest?

“You,” he finally said, his voice nearly shaking with the force of his worried anger, “what the hell is wrong with you?”

Well, if that isn’t a very bad beginning to a conversation, I don’t know what is.

“Quat..” I said quietly, hoping to forestall the flood of words that Quatre was about to bestow upon me. I just was not in the mood to hear anything, whether they be helpful or hurtful. I had finally gotten to a point where the rage and the depression had reached a numbing level. I could not, would not let Quatre make me feel the sharp pain again.

For a while, Quatre just stared at me. He must have seen how dull and dead I looked, heard the lack of anything resembling life in my monosyllabic reply. I did not look at him, preferring to examine my shoes. I heard noises of people walking by the car, vaguely saw the lights from the happily lit storefronts gleaming on the windshield, but I refused to look at Quatre.

“What happened? Why haven’t you called? Oh hell, why haven’t you answered?”

I shrug indifferently to his queries, knowing that it would irritate him. What could I really say at this point anyway? He could not help me now.

“Did..” Quatre trailed off a bit, his face becoming apprehensive, “did you really tell Solo?”

“Yep.” I said, pronouncing each letter of that short word with exaggerated emphasis. I did not want to talk of this right now. I just wanted to be left alone so I could wallow in the absolute misery that was my life.

“It didn’t go well.”

He said it like a statement rather than a question, tacitly conveying to me that he understood how I felt. Maybe he did since Quatre had gone through an ordeal much like mine with his family a while back, but does that make me feel better? Not at all.

“It went.. like a train wreck. A really big, chemical laden train wreck.”

Unfortunately, Quatre did not laugh at my attempt at being humorous in the face of something terrible like losing my brother. Instead, his face filled with a silent sympathy, his eyes brimming over with concern and.. pity?

“Don’t fucking look at me like that!” I screamed, finally turning my eyes fully to his sorrowful face, “Stop it! Why the hell do you care now anyway, huh? Where the fuck were you when I needed you? Having a fucking good time with your understanding family and your goddamned lover, right?”

When I realized just what I had said to Quatre, it was already too late to take those awful words back. I have been told that I had a tendency to speak before thinking when I got angry and I proved that right just then. In all my years being friends with Quatre, I had never, ever said anything so ugly or so unfair.

But damn it, right along side of feeling the tremendous guilt and disgust at what I said was a sick kind of satisfaction for making Quatre feel almost as bad as I felt.

I guess I’m not such a nice guy after all.

The silence was nearly deafening, the echo of my ugly words just barely fading in the car when I decided that I had done enough damage. With a shake of my head and a mumbled half hearted apology, I reached for the door handle with every intention of running to my apartment, locking the door and staying in until Armageddon day. Unfortunately, at that exact time, Quatre started up the car and put it into gear, lurching into sudden motion.

“Damn it, Quat,” I yelled, panic clawing its way up my throat, “I almost had the door open! You could have just killed me there.”

“Well, I didn’t, did I? So shut your trap and listen to me.”

Now, that was rather blunt, don’t you think?

“Look, Duo,” Quatre began as he started maneuvering like a madman between pedestrians and rampant traffic, “I know how you feel. Maybe not exactly, but pretty damned close. It’s never easy having your family resent you for your choice in life, but you can’t just wallow in depression for the rest of your days, okay?”

“Why not? Solo hates me. He said he didn’t know me.”

I felt perilously close to tears after I said it out loud. I kept remembering that look of horror and disbelief on Solo’s face as he walked out of my apartment, maybe my life. It was a look that I had never expected to see from anyone, least of all from my brother. Couldn’t Quatre see that it was killing me to talk about it, to look back on what had happened only a few days ago?

“I know you hurt, Duo,” he continued after a short silence, “but you can’t ignore your friends or Heero. We want to help you, be there for you. Did you know Heero was worried when you didn’t call him during Christmas? Or how frantic he was when you didn’t answer any phone calls? He called me and Trowa to see if you were still alive.”

Yes, Quatre, since it would seem that I was not nearly depressed enough, why not burden me with tons of guilt so I could feel immensely worse about the whole situation?

“Not to mention, we were all worried too. Wufei and Meiran almost charged your office yesterday, you know? They were ready to chain themselves to the door of your office until you talked to them. Trowa and I stopped them, of course, since we didn’t want to see them in jail and we figured you still needed time.”

I shifted in the seat, slightly uncomfortable with the level of guilt Quatre was laying on me. Maybe I could have shuffled out of my deep depression long enough to keep my friends from being crazy with worry. Maybe I could have called them at some point to at least let them know what had happened and how I was feeling.

Oh hell, so I’ve been a first class bastard, but didn’t I have a right to be?

“Anyway,” Quatre blithely continued, “we all decided that today was the day we rescue you from your self imposed depression. It’s New Year’s Eve, a day when the old gets swept away and the new comes in. If anything, today is the day for resolutions and promises, right?”

Then the car comes to an abrupt halt, the brakes screeching and my body going lurching forward towards the dash. With anyone else, I would have been worried at the sudden stop, thinking that perhaps the driver ran something or someone over. With Quatre, I knew that he was just parking so there was no danger. At least, that was what I thought until I looked up and saw not my apartment, but Wufei and Meiran’s house.

“Oh no,” I say, scrabbling madly out of the car, “I am not getting yelled at by the rest of you tonight! I’m fucking going home.”

I had this brilliant plan of getting out of the car and somehow running about twelve miles back to my apartment in my dress shoes and suit, but that plan was debunked when Trowa and Wufei latched onto my arms as soon as I made the exit out of the car. They held on to me as if I would put up a struggle, which I might have had I not been so shell socked, and literally dragged my sorry ass into the house.

I swear, this could have qualified as a kidnapping.

When they had pushed me onto the couch with a glass of bubbly in my hands, they finally relaxed enough to put some distance between me and their vulnerable body parts. I glared at them all ferociously, cursing in a low voice about the whole damned situation and their stubborn love for me.

Eventually, however, all the pressures of the last few days caught up with me, from the terrible good bye with my brother to the depression that had weighed me down. In the face of such unbreakable friendship and love, even I could not put up a decent fight.

I ended up telling them everything that had happened, my feelings about the whole situation and then..

I felt better.

Wonders never cease.

It warmed my heart to see Quatre sympathize with me, to hear him tell me how it would be okay. He didn’t know that and frankly I did not believe him, but I felt better hearing him tell me that in such a reassuring voice. Trowa’s silent smile and encouraging pats to the shoulder did not feel patronizing and Wufei’s indignant stance against Solo for making me feel miserable was well received. Not that I wanted him to hate my brother, gods no, but it was nice knowing that someone was upset on my behalf.

I sound so damned strange, don’t I?

I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but I was feeling like myself again. The depression had retreated and I felt that I could somehow face the world without burying my fool head into work. These guys would be there for me and I knew that with them so solidly behind me, I could face Solo’s disdainful wrath and somehow make it right again.

Damn it all, I was done whimpering about my life.

“Look everyone,” Meiran cheerfully announced, “it’s only five minutes til midnight! Everyone find a kissing partner!”

As predicted, Meiran latched onto Wufei with a grip that jaws of life could not have removed and Quatre and Trowa moved nearer to each other. I instinctively reached out for Heero when I realized that he wasn’t here.

“OH SHIT!”

I got up, sloshing champagne all over my lap as I searched around my pockets for my cell phone. Now that I was feeling human again, I wanted to call Heero, apologize, get him over to Wufei’s, and kiss him on the dot of midnight. And I only had five minutes to do it all.

My friends watched me with a bit of humor in their eyes as I waited for Heero to pick up the phone. I do not want to know what my face looked like when he picked up. I have some sense of dignity left, you know.

“Heero!” I began rather breathlessly, “it’s New Year’s Eve, I’m sorry I’ve been a jackhole about the not calling, even sorrier for making you worry like crazy, I want to kiss you in five minutes, where are you?”

Well, let’s take stock of my fast paced babble. I apologized, not once but twice. I admitted I wanted to kiss him. Not too bad.

Unfortunately, the silence on the other end made me think that perhaps my babble wasn’t as good as I thought it had been.

“Uh, Heero?” I ventured again, vaguely disconcerted by the lack of response, “you okay? I.. I’ll apologize more when you get to Wufei’s, if you want.. ummm.. I.. I missed you, and I want to spend the first day of the new year with you.. because I love you.. you still love me, don’t you?”

And still, the silence. Me, panic? God forbid.

“Heero?”

My friends are looking at me worriedly while the people on the television begin counting down from fifty nine. It was almost time, damn it. If I wasn’t going to kiss him as the first thing in the new year, the least I wanted was him to tell me that he wasn’t angry and that he still loved me.

“Heero?” I say once again, knowing that I sound really dejected, but unable to help it. The countdown continues on television and I feel as if they are counting until the end of my relationship.

There was a slight noise on the other end, kind of like an indrawn breath. I tense up, waiting for the words. Would they be ‘I love you, too’ or ‘I’m mad as hell at you’ or what?

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

Well, out of all the things I thought I’d hear, that had not been one of them. Wait, rewind.

That voice.. wasn’t Heero.

It was a woman.

Oh dear god.

[part 22] [part 24] [back to 0083's fic]