- The Eighteenth Encounter -
Have you ever noticed how giddy people get for weeks
on end after someone they love tells them they love
them? Well, I’m not one of them. Perhaps it is that
I’m too damned masculine to ever qualify as giddy, or
that I lack the proper sentimentality organs to feel
such a silly emotion, but whatever the reason, I was
That is not to say that I was not happy about it, only
that I did not dance around my office in a haze of
rose petals and fluffy feathers singing ‘he loves me’
in falsetto. Besides, we still had some major kinks
to work out of our relationship.
After we told each other of our love, the relationship
kicked back into gear. Heero called me often, we
talked, we went on what we loosely termed as dates and
we did some serious kissing and groping whenever we
got the chance. In some ways, we were like teenagers,
all excited about each other yet forced to hide our
activities to those around us.
During this time of interesting bliss, Heero and I did
have our occasional talks about the fiancée problem as
well as my parental issues. Our analytical brains
whirled in light speed trying to come up with
solutions that did not involve anyone dying, falling
into a coma or causing a massive trauma to a major
Suffice to say, we came up with nothing.
So, the weeks went by until Christmas was staring at
us in the face. That alone brought forth more demons
and boy, was I not ready to deal with them.
Yeah, I’m talking about the horrendous ordeal known as
I have never quite figured out what enchants certain
people when shopping and mall are mentioned within the
same paragraph. My mother alone could buy out an
entire shopping complex had she the money and every
Christmas time, she is out making vendors happy by
single handedly running the capitalistic machine. I
don’t know how she does it, really. The woman hardly
can walk a mile on the treadmill, but when she is out
shopping, she practically walks a marathon distance.
Not to mention, she buys everything in sight.
Not I, though. I hate shopping, it gives me the
willies. Seriously. All those people, especially
over holiday times, can get very scary. Nice, mild
mannered soccer moms turn into raving lunatics with
razor claws in the women’s clothing department.
Gentle, urbane men become frothy at the mouth raiding
the lingerie store. Children who are already the bane
of society transform into absolute monsters who cut
lines and make high pitched noises in the video games
What is there to like about holiday shopping in a mall
or any place occupied by human beings?
That is why I love the internet. Ever since the
internet became open for shopping, I was on board. I
swear, I do all my holiday shopping on line and am
ever grateful for it. I have a hard enough time going
out to stores to buy things I know I need, let alone
browse with the masses of people who would cut my
throat if I touch the wrong ‘on sale’ item.
Anyway, why am I babbling about Christmas shopping
when I should be pondering about the ways to extricate
myself and Heero from the Relena-Parent Trap? Because
I haven’t the faintest fucking idea what to get Heero
for the damned holiday, that’s why.
It was easy enough to shop for my friends because like
every year, I asked them what they wanted from me.
Quatre had requested that he was in need of some
sporting equipment so I ordered him a top of the line
tennis racquet. Trowa had wanted some books and had
given me a list of them so that I could order a bunch
of them from a book vendor on line. Wufei and Meiran
were still in short supply of some house hold goods so
I got them a fancy, custom made coffee table. All on
line, all done in my boxers.
My family was equally easy. I bought my parents a
cruise package in the Caribbean as they had wanted and
my brother was going to receive the most state of the
art DVD player on the market. It was all settled. I
should have been done.
But you see, I have never shopped for a significant
other before this year, so I was stumped with Heero.
The main problem was that I felt as if asking Heero
what he wanted was a bit crude. Am I not supposed to
surprise him with the most perfect gift or something
or other? Should I not have some deep instinctual
feeling about what he truly wanted on this most
commercialized of holidays? Isn’t it a fact of
romance that whatever I get him, he will think is the
most precious thing in the world?
Oh sure, if you live in the freak world of romance
In reality, I have no idea. Truth be told, I don’t
even know what Heero already possesses, let alone
fathom the deep, lurking desire within his heart.
And in any case, I always figured my significant other
would be a woman whom I could appease with diamonds
and furs, not a man who would be aghast at such gifts.
Therefore, my options were quite limited. I could not
ask Heero what he wanted directly nor could I blindly
guess. The only thing I could do was somehow unearth
that fact from him without him guessing my true
Of course, there was a snowball’s chance in hell that
Heero would not notice since he was the master of
observations and human behaviors. Yeah, I’m pretty
This weighty question of what I should buy Heero for
Christmas pressed hard into my brain and it distracted
me often. In fact, it distracted me enough that Heero
“Duo, are you okay?”
I shake my head out of the debate of whether Heero was
a toaster or a toaster oven guy enough to look at him
in the eyes. Then I’m reminded that we are currently
at a lovely restaurant having filet mignon with a
bottle of pinot noir on the side.
“Fine, just, um..” What to say, what to say.. “I
just have some things on my mind.”
Nice save, Maxwell.
“Oh?” Heero says as he raises his right eyebrow,
“anything I can help with?”
“Not really, don’t worry about it.”
Then I change subjects deftly and we have a nice time
without me getting distracted. Much.
We finished dinner on a pleasant note and headed back
to my apartment for some time alone. It was a chilly
yet lively Saturday night with people out about the
well lit and decorated city. There were lights just
about everywhere, enough so that we did not need the
moon to light the way. Oh hell, it seems like this
city is burning half its electricity quota on these
Then again, I suppose it is rather romantic, walking
through a city lit by cheerful and mellow lights with
your boyfriend. I should not take Christmas so
personally because I’m sure the holiday isn’t there to
give me a migraine.
“Duo,” Heero says as we make our way to my apartment,
“are you still thinking about whatever it was that had
you staring like a fish during dinner?”
He sounds somewhat perplexed but amused, as if my
constant mental sidebar was unusual in some way. It
is not often that I take my full attention away from
Heero when we are out, that is true, but my head is
filled with Heero. He can’t really blame me for being
distracted when he is the cause of it.
“It’s nothing,” I lie rather glibly, “so don’t bug me,
“If it’s nothing,” he counters just as lightly, “why
have you been so spacey lately?”
Good point.. but I can’t talk to him about it since
he is the issue. Thankfully, we come within the block
of my apartment and I make a stupid excuse about being
cold so that I could sprint rest of the way. I duck
into my building about fifteen yards ahead of Heero
and wonder if that sprint made him more suspicious.
Once we were in the warmth of my apartment without our
coats and shoes, I made some tea while Heero fiddled
on the remote control. Recently, we had come to the
conclusion that we both despised holiday specials on
television so it was hard for him to find anything
worth watching. Between all the reindeer, elves,
children and Jesus, television was conspiring against
“Turn that off,” I say as I hand him his oolong, “or
you’ll get sick from all the holiday gooeyness on it.”
He grimaces and agrees with me.
“Something about Christmas inspires people. I cannot
help it that we’re not those people.”
True, true. I think both of us are far too old and
too immersed in the nastier side of humanity to really
understand the miracles that people love about this
time of the year. I mean, last Christmas, I had to
make an emergency run to the city jail because a
client of mine had killed his wife in holiday cheer.
Yeah, he had too much egg nog and decided that he had
not liked his wife’s gift of a wrench set so he had
ended up beating her to death with it. How wonderful,
I quickly change the mental direction so that I won’t
have to think about such depressing things.
“Heero,” I ask, “what are you doing for Christmas?”
That brings forth a fresh grimace and Heero looks
“I have to go with Relena to her parents’ home for
dinner. It has become a damned tradition.”
“I see.. her parents think you two are engaged as
“Oh hell no,” he responds with uncharacteristic ire,
“they know perfectly well which side of the line I
fall. But they play along so that Relena won’t have a
relapse or something. Thank god that at least I have
Christmas Eve free from them.”
I pat his shoulder in sympathy. It must be bad to
have fake in-laws on top of a fake fiancée.
“My brother’s coming into town for it,” I tell Heero,
“since my parents will be swilling pina coladas on a
It is then that Heero really looks around my apartment
with a critical eye as if he is expecting to find
something. He does this for a long time and I wonder
if something is missing.
“You don’t have a tree.”
That startles me. I never thought about a tree.
“You mean the Christmas tree ordeal?”
“Yes,” he says, still looking around, “you’re
catholic, so I thought you’d have one.”
“What does being catholic have anything to do with a
That makes him pause for a moment before he turns his
rueful grin at me.
“Nothing, I suppose. But I pegged you for a Douglas
fir type. With many outlandish decorations.”
“Are you kidding me?” I say in outrage, “do you know
how much work it is to get one of those things in
here? Not to mention all that decorating and clean up
afterwards? I don’t have time for things like that.”
That is as truthful as it gets. Trees are a whole lot
of time and effort, even the little baby ones. Not to
mention, they keep shedding needles, making me pull
out my vacuum cleaner on a regular basis.
“So you’re not a tree guy. Are you a presents guy?”
Could it be that Heero has just given me an opening to
pry out of him what he wants for the holidays? I hope
I can work this to my advantage.
“Of course I am,” I say flippantly, “I already did
most of the shopping.”
“I as well. Although, I must admit, you were a tough
one to shop for.”
Gah, he already bought me something? I mean, here I
am still agonizing over what to get him and he was
already done? That is so very.. unfair.
“You are tougher to shop for, Heero Yuy, you damned
He laughs at my sour face and then leans in quite
suddenly to kiss me. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing
and I feel the emotions surge up. Being kissed by
Heero is an experience that I find hard to describe.
When his lips touch mine, I feel as if I’m soaring and
drowning at the same time, peaceful yet painfully
aware. My head spins and my heart pounds, blood heats
and skin tingles.
It sounds cliché and corny, I know, but it is the way
We part from the kiss a bit shorter on breath but a
whole lot happier and spend a few minutes smiling
foolishly at each other. Moments like these keep me
from minding the fiancée and take away the problem of
my parents. Heero and his kisses.. they erase the
bad things from my world and make me anew with each
touch. Indeed, I’m immersed to my eyeballs in
“So..” I say softly, still looking into his eyes,
“what you get me for Christmas?”
He laughs and kisses me again, probably to escape from
answering, but do I mind? Not at all.
“What did you get me?” I ask again when we break for
“Persistent, aren’t you?”
“I am a lawyer, Heero. You wouldn’t believe how
persistent I can get.”
We share a laugh and he leans down to kiss me again.
Oh, I wanted the kiss, believe me, but no way he’s
escaping twice. So, I gently shove him until there is
some space between our bodies. He reluctantly moves,
his face a study of carefully concealed humor.
“What, no more kissing?”
I roll my eyes at him and give him another shove, only
a bit harder.
“Of course there will be more kissing. But answers
first, Heero. What did I get?”
“Good lord,” Heero breathes out in exasperation,
“can’t you stand a bit of surprise?”
“No way. Last time I was surprised, I spent a week in
He sits there and acts like he is contemplating
whether or not to tell me, but I can see the glint in
his eyes. He will not tell me, the little jerk.
“I’ll tell you,” he says to my surprise, “if you tell
me what I’m getting.”
Okay, then. I believe I just dug myself a nice little
trap with teeth at the bottom of the hole.
“I’m not telling.”
Yeah, that’s my brilliant response. But what else can
I say when I have nothing to offer him at this time?
“I’m not telling either then.”
Here we are, two very well educated men, both of us
with advanced degrees under our belts, and that is the
best we can do as a debate. If this continues, I’m
sure we’ll be slugging mud at each other calling the
other cootie-heads. Can’t have that.
“Okay, we’ll drop the damn subject,” I say with a bit
of a huff, “but you come for Christmas Eve and meet my
Oh, wait, did I just say that? Did I just invite
Heero over to my house for a holiday to meet someone
from my family?
“Of course, Duo,” I hear him say with joy in his
voice, “I’d love to meet your brother. And I’ll bring
Zechs and Noin, if you want to meet my friends still?”
At this point, the wheels in my head have come to a
grinding halt as I try to see when and how I decided
to invite Heero over to meet my brother. Oh shit,
what was I going to say to Solo? How the fuck was I
planning on introducing Heero? Oh hello brother dear,
I want you to meet my boyfriend and yes, I seem to be
gay, merry Christmas?
But I don’t let the panicky shock show. I created the
mess.. I’ll fix it.
“Sure Heero, bring your friends. It’ll be a party.”
I guess that made Heero happy because all of a sudden
I have an armful of my boyfriend trying to suck the
tonsils out of me. At any other time, the kiss would
have blanked my mind as I fell into the bliss of it,
but right now, I’m too busy thinking about the
disaster that Christmas Eve is going to become.
At times like this, I want to believe in god just so
that I can pray.