author: 0083
see part 1 for warnings, disclaimers

Special + Part 6

-The Fifth Encounter-

Quatre and Trowa met us at the Five Pence, a small but tasteful bar filled with expensive liquor and imported beers. I was feeling a bit out of sorts and the fact that Heero Yuy was closely following me had a lot to do with my unusual feeling. As soon as I walked into the bar, I saw Quatre waving at me from a table in the corner. I waved back, admittedly not too enthusiastically, but I tried to put up a good front that no one would suspect anything was amiss.

When I got to the table with Heero right behind me, I could see curiosity blazing out of my friends' eyes. Quatre looked at me expectantly, his right hand nearly extended in greeting to my new 'friend.'

Without polite introductions which I was sure was the proper thing to do, I sat down across from Trowa and Heero slid into his seat next to me. Before I could say anything, Heero took command of the situation.

"Hello. I'm Heero, an acquaintance of Duo's from work."

Handshakes and names were exchanged shortly thereafter and I had to give Heero bonus points for his introduction. He had not presumed to introduce himself as something more than a mere acquaintance for which I was immensely glad. I was not yet ready to disclose to my friends exactly how I had come to meet Heero. He had rescued me from long explanations by his simple intro.

"What do you do, Heero?" Quatre asked in a friendly tone. If anything, Quatre is a very polite and amiable guy who would do anything to make someone feel comfortable. I could have told him that he was wasting his efforts for it seemed to me that Heero was never uncomfortable in any situation.

"I'm a psychiatrist. I was Duo's expert witness in the last trial."

"Oh, that's wonderful," Quatre replied, "because I think Duo needs a psychiatrist! He has been acting abnormal lately."

I must forgive Quatre because I have not told him why I have been abnormal lately. My best friends have not the faintest clue that the reason for my abnormality is sitting across from them, trying his hardest to contain a smirk. Of course Heero knows why I have been out of sorts, he is a damned shrink after all. No wonder he read me so well that first night we spoke I was probably giving off hints that a trained psychiatrist would have picked up on without even trying.

Trowa looked at me with his left eyebrow slightly raised and I realized that I had been gripping the table with a white knuckled grip when Quatre had said that. I mentioned before that I'm pretty thick skinned and it takes a whole lot to make me come off my hinges. Well, I was coming off my hinges right now and Trowa had noticed. How to explain, how to get out of this situation before it got messier?

I thank god daily for timely waitress service.

Thankfully, the waitress broke up the awkward moment which I am sure was mostly in my mind since my friends seemed so oblivious. She was a cute woman, probably in her early twenties, brunette with a striking pair of.. eyes. I winked at her, made some flirty comments while ordering my drink and sent her off to get our drinks with a wide smile on her face. After that, I was feeling more or less back in my element when I met Heero's eyes and saw amusement and understanding in them.

I really needed that drink.

As soon as the waitress was out of earshot, Trowa spoke to me in a low tone disguised as a whisper, but designed so that everyone at the table could hear.

"I don't think you need a shrink, Duo," he said in his usual bland tone, "but it might help with your current.. project."

Quatre just lit up at that one. If I didn't love these guys so much, I may have resorted to physical violence to make them shut up.

"The project. How is that going, Duo? Find anyone yet?"

I wonder if I'm blushing or just getting feverish. How could my best friends bring up something so personal in front of Heero? They had just met him for the love of god and here they were, divulging my innermost secret which I had accidentally blurted out to them.

"Quat, Tro, do you guys mind not talking? That's really private, you know!"

I sounded aghast, completely stricken. I suppose that it did put a damper on their efforts to gain amusement by embarrassing me and it made them feel somewhat bad.

Well, good.

There was a moment of awkward silence while my friends tried to find a different subject for conversation and Heero tried to look uninterested in their previous comment. I did not contribute towards diffusing the situation because I honestly had no idea what to say. Then my savior, the cute waitress, arrived with my and Heero's drinks.

I grabbed at my lifeline with both hands, thanking the waitress more profusely than she was obviously used to, and got her to smile extremely flirty at me before she sauntered off. I took several gulps out of my martini, letting the coolness of vodka burn its way down my throat. It felt phenomenal and I felt as if I could last out the night.

By that time, Trowa had come up with an acceptable topic of conversation and then we were all talking. We, Heero included, discussed the interesting yet inexplicable concept behind pro basketball, arguing the teams as if we owned them. We talked statistics, play off records, recent trends in drafting. It felt nice to talk of things as mundane yet fun as sports.

Drinks came and went, I flirted some more with the waitress and ignored the strange way Heero kept looking at me. Quatre and Trowa laughed at my strange behavior that had pervaded my life in the recent past, throwing out silly theories as to why I had acted that way. They made me laugh with their alien abduction theory and Heero contributed some zany comments about hitherto unknown psychiatric problems that I could have been suffering.

I hated to say it, but after the initial moment of introduction, I had a good time. Heero was a decent guy who knew a lot about everything, just like me. If I didn't dislike him so much, I think we could have been good friends, maybe even best of friends.

But I will not forget that I do not like him.

Some time during the night, Quatre brought up something that I had forgotten. Apparently, in my dizzying rally to forget entirely about Heero, I had forgotten a few other things as well, such as the party tomorrow night for our friend Wufei.

"You forgot?" Quatre exclaimed when I admitted that I had, "you, Duo Maxwell, who lives with his palm pilot tattooed to his right arm, forgot about a party?"

I chuckled in embarrassment for I had forgotten entirely. Trowa laid into me with his heavy gaze, telling me with a reprimanding gaze that I should not have needed a reminder.

"Okay," I say before I can get even more guilt tripped by the two, "I'm sorry I forgot, but thanks for the reminder. I'll be there. Can't miss Wufei's debut."

The three of us snicker at my comment while Heero looks on politely with a smidgen of confusion on his face. I realize that the joke is an inside one that could only be understood by those involved, but it was not my job to make him feel like he was included.

So then why did I open my big mouth? I blame my fourth martini.

"You see, Heero, Wufei's our friend who's finally coming back after his two years stint in China. We haven't seen him in a while and tomorrow's the welcome home party."

"Oh," Heero replied quickly, "so why is it a debut?"

The three of us busted out in laughter and somehow, in drunken unison, we answered him.

"Because we're going to meet his wife!"

I was laughing so hard by this time that I was gripping my stomach with my left hand while my right one was hitting Heero's shoulder. Quatre laughed right along with me, nearly falling into Trowa in his efforts to remain upright.

"Why is it so funny that you'll meet his wife?"

Heero still sounded puzzled, but I think I see amusement in his eyes now. He must have gathered from the way we were acting that Wufei's marriage was somehow a comical event, but as to why probably escaped him.

"Because," Trowa replied since Quatre and I were still laughing, "Wufei hasn't met her yet either."

If Heero thought we were a bunch of basketcases, he did not say. However, he did start laughing with us and it caught me off guard a bit. It was a generously rich sound, across between a rumble and a tenor, a deeply masculine sound that made my heart skip a small beat.

First his looks, then his smile, now his laugh. They all appealed to me so much and I had to remind myself once again that I did not like Heero.

Sometime after one, Quatre and Trowa excused themselves and went home, leaving me so very alone with Heero. They reminded me once again of the party and I was left to ponder if I should just go home too. I sneaked a glance at Heero through my martini glazed eyes, trying to think of a good excuse to go home instead of staying and talking.

If Heero had been a normal person which I'm beginning seriously doubt, as soon as Quatre and Trowa left, he would have shifted his seat so that he'd be facing me. However, he still sat next to me, ignoring the perfectly empty sets of seats across from us. I would have moved if I could, but I was trapped by the wall and Heero.

I had a feeling the wall might be easier to move at this point in time.

"I like your friends. They are very laid back."

I cannot fault him for liking my friends so I should not be rude to him.

"They are great guys," I hear myself say, "and you won't find any better."

Heero tilted his head and looked at me then. I mean, really looked at me, as in staring into my eyes with his lovely blues, focusing entirely on me and drowning out the surrounding environment with the intensity.

"I like you too, you know. I just wish you would stop being afraid and give me a chance."

"That does it! I'm leaving."

I practically shoved Heero out of my way to get out of the corner. The world was slightly askew, but I managed to stay on my feet and toss down money on the table. This situation seemed an awful lot like the coffee house incident.

This time, however, I did not get to make it out of the bar because Heero latched onto my arm with his surprising strong grip and forced me back down.

"What is your goddamned problem?" I blurt out, trying my hardest not to start a fight in the middle of a bar.

His eyes became a bit distant then, almost as if he was contemplating my question a little too closely. When they refocused on me, they seemed a bit shy, perhaps even a bit uncertain.

"I don't know," Heero said quietly, "but I would like to find out. My policy is that I leave the straight men alone, but for some reason, I can't do that to you."

That caught me off guard. In our short past, whenever Heero had spoken to me, he had been filled with a deep sense of confidence, as if he knew what I was thinking before I did. Not this time, though. This time, he sounded as uncertain as I felt. And yes, as afraid as I felt, too.

That deflated my anger and annoyance, leaving me with a hollow feeling.

"Only if you'd stop pestering me about having an 'us'.."

I sounded absolutely defeated. Maybe I was.

"You don't really hate me."

I snort which I guess could mean anything, but he took that as an affirmative.

"You are attracted to me."

"That's your opinion," I ground out, never denying the fact.

Heero opened his mouth for what I was sure would be a psychological analysis of my behavior, but I cut him off.

"You know, Heero, it'd be damned nice if you stop being a psychiatrist for a moment. I can't deal with people analyzing every move I make, okay?"

He did look contrite then.

"I'm.. sorry."

He apologized. And I knew without a doubt that he meant it. Now I felt like a nasty person for snapping at him.

"Look," I say keeping the frustration out of my voice, "I know what it is like to have your job define how you interact with people. Hell, I do it a lot, too. Apology accepted. Just.. stop hitting on me, okay?"

"I'll try," Heero replies, a small smile lighting his face, "but you interest me. I just want to get to know you."

"Huh? Why?" was my intelligent answer. Why would anyone want to get to know someone who was not interested in them in the way they were interested? Why would Heero want to expend his time and efforts on getting to know me when I had told him that I wished no romantic involvement with him?

"Because.." Here, Heero pauses for a moment as if to gather the proper words. I wonder what they are. Why do you want to know me, Heero?

"Because," he finally says, "I think you're special."

I think I stop breathing. I think my heart stops beating.

I think I need another drink.

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