author: 0083
genre: AU
pairings: 1x2, 3x4
warning: i may have inserted sap
disclaimer: gw is not mine.

Special + Part 8

-The Seventh Encounter-

If someone had told me a week ago that I would be at a party thrown in the honor of my friend with alcohol flowing like water, I would have said 'let the good times roll', not 'let me be the designated driver.'

How times change.

Wufei's party was a rollicking success, mostly because we were too busy laughing at him. His wife, a petite and charming lady with a vicious temper named Meiran, was a joy to meet, regaling us with the tale of how the two ended up married without having ever set eyes on each other while Wufei interjected with his objections.

I don't know why, but I think those two were made for each other.

I laughed a lot, drank little and tried my damnest to enjoy myself, but Heero kept popping into my thoughts. It did not help when Quatre asked me if Heero and I had a good time after they had left. I was forced to answer in the affirmative and grinned to hide the sick emotional roller coaster that question had caused. Shortly thereafter, Trowa had to go and ruin my short lived victory by asking about Heero as well. Then Wufei had joined in, wanting to know who this Heero was, how we had met, what kind of person he was, and so went on the line of questioning.

I don't know how I answered all their questions without breaking down I so wanted to tell them about the turmoil within.

But I wore a brave face and partied out with them, even playing my usual part of the flirty drunk when I did not drink much nor flirt with my usual flair. My heart was not in the party scene as much as I wanted to and I felt guilty for being such a stick in the mud at Wufei's party.

The night wore on and my friends had a great time, trading stories and other silly anecdotes about what had occurred in the two years that we were apart. Wufei told us interesting stories about China, what he had felt in his native country, how embarrassed he had been that his language skills had been so poor and how he had accidentally pissed off a militia officer by hitting on his wife.

Quatre and Trowa in turn told Wufei about the time I had gone dancing on a bar table, shaking my little booty at the passers-by and getting dollars shoved down my pants. In revenge, I told Wufei how he had missed out when I had walked in on them in the coat room of one of Quatre's sister's weddings.

Even if it felt a bit forced, I did laugh, I did enjoy. But at the end of the night, walking home in the dark by myself, I had to admit that I wished for Heero's presence so he could have laughed with us.

I checked my watch and saw it ticking away near four in the morning. I knew I should go home and sleep, but Heero's rejection and my intense need to apologize kept haunting me. I argued with myself for a while, trying to convince myself that calling Heero at this hour, even if it was in apology, would be in grave error.

Somehow, I lost the argument with myself and found myself digging Heero's number out of my wallet. It was right next to my Mastercard slot, folded as neatly as the day I had put it there.

Next came my cell phone and I stood in the middle of the street in the wee hours of the night, staring at the bright green display of my phone for a while. To call or not to call was not the question, but I still hesitated.

In the end, I dialed in Heero's number and pushed send before I could chicken out.

The phone rang and rang over the line and by the fifth ring, I should have hung up because who in their right mind would be up at this hour? I was probably disturbing his sleep, making him bury his head into the pillow to ignore the incessant ringing.

My finger was on the 'end' button of my phone when there was a voice.

"Hello?"

It sounded amazingly awake, if a bit annoyed. I think that I had hoped he would not pick up so I could have left a message or something, but he had answered. I should speak, but as it seemed the case with Heero, my voice refused to cooperate.

"Look," came the even more annoyed voice, "I don't know who you are, I don't recognize your number on my caller I.D., and it's four in the morning."

"Uh.." was all I could manage. I worked desperately to untangle my tongue before Heero hung up on me.

"Duo?"

Now, how the hell had he recognized my voice from that one guttural sound? Or was it that he couldn't think of anyone who would have the balls to call him at this ungodly hour?

"Yeah. Hi."

Can I possibly say anything more inane?

"It's late, Duo."

Maybe it was the static on the line, but he sounded less than joyous to hear from me. Oh, who am I kidding. I'm just lucky he hasn't hung up on me yet.

"I know, Heero," I say, my voice having made its come-back, "but I wanted to say that I was sorry, you know, for what happened earlier."

Apologizing to him was easier than I had thought, maybe because I knew I had been dead wrong to have said those awful things to him. Once I said it though, I suddenly felt a hundred times better, almost as if my body recognized that I had done the right thing.

"Oh. I see."

That's not a bad response, really, considering that it is four in the morning and I had called right out of the blue after making him feel horrible. I did not expect more and now I was ready to call it a night. I had done what needed to be done.

"So.. yeah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean the things I said. I hope we can talk when there's daylight out or something."

There it was, my apology in full, my explanation and my expression of want. I had made no admission except the apology , of course, since I had no such courage to admit to Heero that I liked him.

I had just barely admitted it to myself not too long ago anyway, and as they say, one step at a time.

"Sorry to have disturbed you. I guess you want to go back to sleep now, so I'll just hang up, okay? Later, Heero."

That, my friends, is a good, clean closing. Or it would have been if Heero had not responded.

"I wasn't sleeping."

I briefly wonder what he could have been doing at this hour if he was not asleep, but it passes in favor of being glad that I had not awoken him.

"Apology accepted. Thank you."

He is a generous guy, thanking me for an apology that he deserved. I feel a smile creeping onto my face.

"And if you don't have anything better to do, I would like to see you. Right about now. Why wait for the daylight?"

Had I been a lesser man, I would have said no. If I was still holding a grudge for his rejection earlier, I would have said no. But I wasn't any of those things.

"Sure. Where?"

It is amazing what a few sentences can do to mend things between people. In a space of a couple of minutes, Heero had gone from feeling less than charitable towards me to feeling as if he should see me immediately. I, in turn, had turned my emotional turmoil into something infinitely more pleasant. I am glad that I called.

"Are you anywhere near that coffee shop we went to?"

I know exactly where he is implying and I reply that yes, I am near that vicinity. To be honest, I was about fourteen blocks off, but that's near enough.

"Then I'll see you there in fifteen minutes."

He hung up without saying bye, but this time, I didn't mind. I would be seeing him shortly anyway and I realize that for the first time, the prospect of seeing Heero did not fill me with dread but with something else entirely.

I won't say that I ran to that coffee house, but it was a near thing. When I got there, Heero wasn't there waiting for me, but I had made a fairly mad dash so it was excusable. I sat at the exact table we had sat in before and ordered some disgusting coffee from the same disgruntled waitress.

I think when I checked my watch to see that I had been waiting for half an hour was about when I started feeling like I had been rejected for the second time.

Am I the kind of guy who waits when someone isn't coming? Hell, no.

I pushed myself away from the table, trying to ignore the bitter taste in my mouth which I knew was not the coffee. I had apologized and he had accepted. It had been Heero who had invited me out. Whatever I did earlier, I did not deserve to sit in a coffee house by myself at five in the morning.

I was about to grab my coat to leave when the door opened and Heero walked in. He has impeccable timing.

"I'm sorry I'm late."

Tonight must be the designated night for apologies.

"Yeah, well, it's okay."

I don't forgive this easily usually, but the relief that overtook me when I saw him walking in spoke in my stead. I knew he wouldn't be as cruel or petty as to stand me up. Okay, I had doubts, but I'm sure if I search deep within my heart or whatever organ that is responsible for emotions, I would say that I knew he wouldn't let me sit here, waiting for him.

Heero sat in the chair across from me and I made a smooth transition from grabbing my coat to a sitting position. He ordered a coffee, I ordered another, and we just looked at each other for a while.

I do believe that I'm getting used to this kind of silent staring exchange with Heero.

We didn't talk about anything earth shattering or anything intellectual. We just sat and made small talk, discussing such important affairs as the weather, the strange behavioral patterns of night shift waitresses and our favorite television shows.

We talked for hours and if I was asked just what we had talked about, I might say that I don't clearly recall. But from what I remember, I found out he had a sense of humor that bordered on cynical and he found out that I had a penchant for dirty jokes. He told me of a time when he was in college and I told him an equally insane story about my life as a collegiate. We talked of so many things, but not once did I feel the uncomfortable nausea in my stomach.

Some time during this long conversation, I began to feel a seeping warmth. I saw once again how attractive he was, but more than that, I saw how beautiful he was in more than just a purely physical sense. I think I finally saw what I was supposed to have seen all along.

When we mutually decided that it was time to go, I realized that we had talked, I mean really talked, unhindered by such things as my doubts and confusion or his observations and analysis. We had talked as if we were friends, as if we were close. We had never noticed how time passed or that the waitress changed on us half way through. We hadn't seen how the lights changed outside or how the menu was changed from late night to breakfast.

From the outside, our interaction may have looked like a quiet moment between two people, just talking and drinking coffee in the brightening dawn.

From the inside, however, it was so much more than that.

Outside the coffee shop as we parted ways, we did not hug. We did not even shake hands. Instead, we stood apart, stared at each other and smiled. We did it for a long while, almost long enough for others to notice, but we couldn't seem to stop.

I am Duo Maxwell who has had countless sexual relations with god knows how many people, and that moment of non-touching and smiling was the most intimate moment of my life to date.

Our eyes finally relinquished each other and we did eventually walk away, but there was no good-bye this time either. Instead of the trite farewell most people exchange, Heero opted to be different.

"Duo Maxwell," he said as we got farther from each other, "I knew from the start that you were special. Do you believe me?"

Then he turned a corner, disallowing me a turn to respond to him. Had he not turned, had he stood still for a moment, he might have heard that yes, I believe you.

[part 7] [part 9] [back to 0083's fic]