Author: Caroline
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes

The Medallion: Part the Thirteenth
Just 2 Good 'Ol Boys

Duo chewed on his nails, staring out the window of Zechs' Charger as they sped through the city streets, not really seeing anything, just wanting to get to the Peacecraft estate as quickly as possible.

"So let me get this straight," Wufei said from the back seat. "Your friend Heero is really a two thousand year old Phoenician who was cursed into a silver medallion by a jealous lover and now he becomes a virtual sex slave for an entire month by whoever frees him. Is that about it?"

"He's not a slave," Duo bit back. "But... yeah. That's it in a nutshell."

"And you believe him, Zechs?"

"I saw Heero disappear the first morning Duo had him. He's legit," Zechs replied, stepping on the gas to make it through a yellow light.

"Huh." Wufei sighed. "And your sister..."

"Needs taking down a notch. I've indulged her behavior for far too long. It's time that little bubble she lives in was burst."

"Zechs," Duo said softly, looking down at his gnawed-on hands. "You don't have to do this. I can take care of it."

"No. This has been a long time coming. I indulged her whims and her temper and her demands too much after our parents died. It's time to take the blinders off. About a lot of things."

Duo blinked up at him. "You mean... you're going to tell her you're gay?"

Zechs snorted. "She's known about that since she caught me sucking off the gardener when I was fifteen. She just chooses not to acknowledge it. But after tomorrow, she'll have to."

"Tomorrow?"

"That's part of the reason Wufei and I wanted to get together with the two of you. We've decided to get married. The announcement for the commitment ceremony comes out in the paper tomorrow."

Duo stared at his friend. Then he stared some more. "You... you're getting married?!"

"I suppose you think it's too soon," said Zechs as he took a corner so fast Wufei slid across the back seat and landed with a thud against the opposite door. "I know, we've known each other barely two months. But it feels so right for both of us. And I'm hoping you'll stand up with me as my best man next spring."

Duo felt his eyes mist over. "Zechs, I'm honored that you'd ask." He gripped the door handle as they flew around another corner, Wufei cursing in Chinese as again he was thrown against the opposite door in the back seat. "And I'm seriously hoping you don't kill us all before we get there!"

***

They made it to the Peacecraft estate in record time. Duo was amazed his heart continued to beat after the wild ride through the city Zechs had given them. Wufei stumbled out of the car first, before it had even come to a complete stop, climbing over Duo and heading for the bushes looking decidedly green. Duo took the front steps two at a time and pounded on the large, ornate door. An odious-looking man in a butler's livery answered, looking down his nose at Duo.

"May I help you?"

"No. I can help myself, thanks," Duo replied, pushing past the man and into the front hall.

"Sir! I'm afraid you cannot..."

"Where is she?" Duo demanded, whirling around to face the man.

"Who?"

"Relena. Just tell me where she is so you can save me the trouble of tearing this whole goddamn place apart looking for her."

The man's face turned beet read. "Sir, I must insist you leave the premises right now. If you do not, I shall call the police..."

Duo sighed and turned away, looking around. He'd not been to Zechs' childhood home often, and when he had graced its halls, he'd usually been sneaked in through Zechs' window. He knew Relena's rooms were upstairs, but the house was massive, and he didn't really know where to start.

He hurried over to one side of the grand staircase, stood on the bottom step and screamed Heero's name.

The butler scurried over to an alcove and picked up a phone just as Zechs led a shaky Wufei through the front doors.

"Pargan. That won't be necessary," he said to the butler, settling Wufei down onto a settee. "Duo, Relena's rooms are up the stairs, down the corridor on the left, last door on the right."

"Thanks," Duo replied, nearly tripping up the stairs in his haste to climb them. He rushed through the corridors, getting turned around once, before finding himself face to face in front of a set of pink French doors. He pushed them aside and stormed into the room.

The scene before his eyes made him see red. Heero was lying on the large, pink bed, on his back, nude, staring impassively at the ceiling. Relena was straddled on top of him, thankfully wearing a frilly, fluffy pink *thing* -- otherwise Duo may have had to claw his eyes out. It was sheer enough that already he was feeling his retinas burn.

They both turned their heads to look at him as he stumbled into the room; Relena with an expression of fury and Heero with ardent relief. Relena sat up and Duo had to keep from gagging as the strap of the pink *thing* slipped off one shoulder. "What the hell are you doing here?" she hissed.

"I came for him," Duo said, pointing at Heero.

Heero pushed himself up on his elbows. "Are you safe?"

Duo nodded.

Heero breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank god." And with that he reached up and shoved Relena off him, sending her head over heels off the side of the bed and onto the floor. Duo took three running steps and leaped for the bed, Heero's strong arms catching him, grabbing him up and pulling him close.

"I'm so sorry," Duo murmured into the crook of Heero's neck. "I should've stopped you from going..."

"My fault," Heero whispered back, stroking his hand down the length of Duo's braid. "I should have fought harder, but I was worried about you."

Neither man noticed Relena clawing her way back up to the bed until Duo was pulled away from Heero by a surprisingly strong grip. "Get off him, you *pervert*!" she screeched, nearly sending Duo off the bed. "Don't worry, Pookie. I'll have security detain him until the police can be called."

Heero reached forward and pulled Relena's hands off Duo, giving her another good shove off the bed. He pulled Duo against his side and kissed him quickly but deeply. "You ready to go?" he asked after pulling away.

Duo nodded dazedly, allowing himself to be pulled off the bed, wrapping an arm around Heero's waist. He wasn't letting go again.

"Wait!" Relena's shrill cry caused them both to wince. "Heero! You don't have to go with him!"

Heero's arm snaked around Duo's waist and squeezed him tightly. "Yes, I do."

Relena made a face. "You're only saying that because he has the medallion."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "Duo, do you have the medallion with you?"

Duo blinked at him. "Erm... no. It's still in the night stand I think," he said.

"Then it's my choice as to who to go with and I choose Duo." He pulled Duo toward the bedroom door.

Relena shrieked again behind them. "How can you possibly want to go with that... that... fa..."

Heero whirled around so fast Duo was almost spun to the floor. "Don't you *ever* use that word in front of me, Relena," he spat. He let go of Duo and stalked toward the startled woman. "Do you want to know why I was cursed into that hunk of metal? It was because of some jealous witch, much like yourself, who couldn't stand the fact that I preferred the company of men to her. You were never desirable to me, and unless you lose that harpy attitude, the only men who will want you will be those who want your money."

Relena's face turned bright red. It clashed horribly with the shade of pink she had on. "How dare you! I was cheated out of my full month and I want it back!"

"There is no going back. I am with Duo now, and curse or no curse, I am going home with him."

Relena sneered at him. "We'll just see about that." She stalked over to a desk in the corner and lifted a pink telephone. She pressed a button, then spoke into the receiver. "Alex, bring a couple of your men to my room immediately and call the police."

"That won't be necessary, Relena my dear."

Duo turned to see Zechs step into his sister's room. Relena replaced the receiver on the cradle and sneered at her brother. "I should have known you'd be behind his being here," she said, jerking her head in Duo's direction. "This doesn't concern you, big brother."

"Oh but it does. You see, I've overlooked your behavior for too long, dear sister," Zechs said, coming further into the room. "I've ignored the snarky comments about my choice of friends. I've shrugged off your bigoted comments about my love life. And I've forgiven you for sneering at my choice of profession. But that all ends tonight, Relena. It's time you grew up and realized that you can't have everything your way."

"What makes you think I can't?" she scoffed. She pointed at Heero. "I want him and I plan to have him. And you are going to help me, Brother."

Zechs crossed his arms. "Oh? How do you figure that?"

Relena sneered at him. "Because if you don't, I'll release those pictures of you and the pool boy that I took last summer."

Zechs broke out into a huge grin. "You still have those? Let me see!"

"I'm serious! I'll call the tabloids and by tomorrow, the whole world will know that Milliardo Peacecraft is a gay homosexual."

"Is there any other kind?" Duo asked, taking Heero's hand in his own and looking around for Heero's clothes.

Zechs just laughed. "Honey, I'm a pastry chef. It's not that big of a leap to make. Besides, everyone will know after tomorrow."

Relena froze. "What do you mean?"

"He's getting married," Duo said, looking under Relena's bed and fishing out Heero's pants, tossing them to his lover.

"His name is Wufei," Zechs said, picking Heero's shirt off the mirror. "He makes me happy. It'll be a spring ceremony. I was hoping you'd give me away."

Relena went deathly pale. Her mouth flopped open and she took a step back. "What... how... when... you can't... I..."

Zechs rolled his eyes. "Relena, I don't really have to explain myself or my actions to you. 'Fei is my partner and you don't have to be happy for me, but you do have to respect my decision."

"I most certainly do not!" Relena cried, stomping her foot. "You can't do this! Stop thinking of yourself and remember who you are! You are a Peacecraft!"

Duo let out a strangled sound, pushed past Heero who was looking for his shoe in the large fish tank by the window, and stormed over to Relena. Before the girl could react, Duo grabbed her by the arm and shook her. "Remember who *you* are. Miss High and Mighty. Princess Peacecraft. A woman of great morals and virtues who once told me that Peacecrafts wait until *marriage* to indulge in, what did you call it? 'Bedroom acts.'" He flung a hand at Heero, who froze in surprise in the middle of pulling his pants on. "And what do you call that, Miss Hypocrite? I don't think you *married* Heero! How can you justify your actions with your words?"

Relena pulled her arm free from Duo's grip, glaring daggers at the man. "He's not human. He doesn't count."

Duo had to force himself to count to ten. Slowly. In Spanish. He turned his back on the girl and took Heero by the arm. "Come on, love. I think we've overstayed our welcome."

"Duo?" Heero asked, his voice nearly breathless.

"Wait a moment and I'll drive you," Zechs said. "Just let me collect 'Fei. I left him nearly passed out in the library."

"Thanks," Duo said, letting Heero pull him close and taking comfort in his warmth.

"Don't you dare walk out that door!" Relena screeched. "Peacecraft Corp. has a great deal of money invested in your firm, Maxwell! I'll have your job!"

Before Duo could reply, Zechs stepped forward, glaring at his sister. "That's enough, Relena. You want to resort to blackmail? Fine. I have a little of my own. You're not the only one who knows how to capture stills off security feeds."

"I have nothing to hide!" Relena said.

"Oh? Not even a secret rendezvous? Does the boat house during the Fourth of July picnic ring a bell?"

Relena paled again. "How did you... I turned those cameras off!"

"And I turned them back on again. Leave Duo and Heero alone, Relena. Find someone else to torment. Otherwise... well, I'm sure those pictures would be more damaging to your reputation than the ones you have of me would be to mine."

Relena huffed. Relena puffed. And just as Duo thought she might try to blow the house down, her shoulders slumped and she turned away. "Get out of my house," she hissed.

"For now. But it's my house, too. And the gardens in the spring are the perfect place to hold a wedding," Zechs said, moving for the door. "Duo, Heero? Shall we go?"

Duo had never been so grateful to leave a place. He bit his lip and held Heero's hand tightly in an effort to keep himself from marching back up to Relena's room and smacking the shit out of her. Heero not human! Heero was warm and caring, kind hearted, funny. He was more human that Relena could ever hope to be.

As if sensing Duo's thoughts, Heero squeezed his hand, bringing it up to his lips to kiss the backs of his knuckles. "Forget her, Duo. I already have."

"She's the monster, not you!" Duo said, unable to keep the waver out of his voice.

Heero let go of his hand to wrap his arm around Duo's waist. "Shhh. I promise, when we get home, I'll help you forget her."

Home? Duo nearly choked at the thought of the word. The hotel room wasn't his home, but it felt more like a home, a haven, than his empty apartment did. He couldn't bear the thought of going back to it in a week's time.

Zechs tossed them his keys. "Get in the car. I'll go get Wufei and then we can go get a bite to eat."

"If it's all the same to you, Zechs, I think we'd just like to be dropped off at the hotel. It's been a rough night," Duo said.

Zechs nodded. "Some other time then. See you in a bit."

They made it out to Zechs' car, with Heero taking a moment to snicker at it. "Please tell me it plays 'Dixie' when he honks the horn," he said as they climbed into the back seat.

Duo rolled his eyes. "What is it with you and eighties television shows?" he asked as they pulled the seat into place, leaving the door open. At least on the ride home, Wufei could ride in the front where there was a seat belt. Zechs had never gotten around to installing seat belts in the back seat of the old car. Duo had asked him why once, and really wasn't surprised to learn that Zechs preferred not to have seat belt buckles digging into his hips when using the back seat for... recreational purposes.

Heero settled into the far corner of the seat and pulled Duo to him. He kissed the top of Duo's head and wrapped his arms around him.

"Did they hurt you?" he asked and Duo could feel the man trembling slightly. "When I left, did those men..."

Duo shook his head. "Nah. Zechs came charging in and Wufei kicked their ass not long after you'd left. I'm fine."

"Good. I don't think I could have forgiven myself if..."

"I'm okay, Heero," Duo said firmly. "I have a question for you, though."

"What?"

"Did you really have a choice about leaving with me tonight?"

Heero smiled. "No. You possess the medallion, even if you don't have it on your person. I had to leave with you." When Duo didn't respond, Heero lifted his chin. "I said that to Relena because I wanted her to know that if I'd had the choice, I still would have left with you."

"Oh." Duo felt warm inside. "What would have happened if she'd found you before her month was up? Would her claim have taken precedence over mine?"

"Depends. It has happened before, once. I had to obey whoever was in physical possession of the medallion." He leaned in and brushed his lips lightly over Duo's. "But that didn't happen so let's not worry about it, all right?"

"All right." He took a deep breath. He needed to ask Heero about Zechs' proposal of giving him the medallion when the month was over. They didn't have much time left, and he still didn't know how to break the curse. He needed time, and Zechs' plan was his only shot. But before he could broach the subject, Heero spoke.

"Duo, would you do something for me?"

Duo drew in a sharp breath. "Anything."

"When your month is over... would you take the medallion out and drop it into the ocean?"

"What?"

Heero closed his eyes and leaned his cheek against Duo's head. "I can't do this anymore. The little bits of freedom I'm granted when I have a new mistress... it isn't enough." He lifted his head and looked at Duo. "I want this time with you, the happiest I've been in two thousand years, to be my last. Drop the medallion in the ocean. Give me peace."

Duo felt tears well up in his eyes. He clung fiercely to Heero, his heart tearing itself in two. "Heero..."

"Please? It's all I ask of you, Duo. Don't let me go back to being a slave. Not after knowing you. Let me go."

Duo stared at Heero for a long moment, trying to swallow the lump in his throat. Through the blood pounding in his ears he heard Zechs and Wufei's voices approaching the car. He drew in a ragged breath and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "I'll do it," he said softly as Wufei slid into the front seat, threatening Zechs loudly if he even so much as thought about driving over the speed limit on the drive back into the city.

"Thank you, Duo," Heero replied, kissing him deeply.

One week. That's all they had now. And as it was nearing dawn, that left only six nights. Six days to break the curse or lose Heero forever...

He was determined not to let that happen. Of course, it all depended on Zechs getting them back to the hotel safely. And as his friend peeled out of the stately driveway and onto the road, leaving burning tire tracks behind them, Duo was more certain he could break the curse than he was of Zechs' ability to get them home in one piece.

[part 12] [part 14] [back to Caroline's fic]