Author: Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warning: Male/male sex, graphic, language, violence, abusive situations.

6x2

Band Aids + Part 3
Terminology

"It won't budge," Duo swore as he gave a last tremendous tug on the panel.

"Perhaps together..." Milliardo suggested as he left off organizing the separated pieces and came to assess the problem.

Duo grunted, yanked off his bandana, and wiped at his sweating face. "The space is too tight."

"No, not if we position ourselves correctly." Milliardo motioned Duo to go first into the two foot space between two bulkheads. "You are shorter," he explained when Duo eyed him with a confusion that was mixed with wariness. Milliardo wasn't offended. He would have felt the same if a man he hardly knew had crowded him into that tight space.

Duo understood the principle and he nodded after a moment's decision. He turned his back with a look that let Milliardo know that he wasn't comfortable that way, and took hold of the panel. In that position, Milliardo was able to reach over Duo's head and grab part of the panel himself.

"Together," Milliardo said and then ordered firmly, "Now."

They both strained, muscles flexing. Looking down at Duo's head as he brought his weight and muscles to bear on the rusted metal, he was afforded an easy view of Duo's cinnamon colored hair and the flecks of debris that had caught there during the day. He could see a thick scar, moving the hair aside at one point, and a few knots that were permanent residents there. It made Duo starkly human at that moment, flawed, and vulnerable. It was on the tip of Milliardo's tongue to say something, to give voice to a feeling of concern and an odd protectiveness that wanted to know the cause of those hurts, but the panel chose that moment to break free.

Duo wasn't prepared. Pulling back with all of his might, the sudden release sent him slamming backwards into Milliardo. He lost his own balance and they fell backwards onto the metal deck, Duo on his chest and the panel slamming down onto Duo's leg. Duo howled and cursed as he began to sit up and push the weight off, but two very large hands were hauling him up, away from the panel and away from Milliardo.

"Where the hell you been, Duo?!" Nick bellowed into Duo's face.

"Put me the fuck down!" Duo snarled and shoved at the hands ineffectually. "I was getting this hulk ready for shipment."

Nick dropped him and Duo howled in pain again as he came down on his now bad leg. He sat on the deck abruptly and glared up at his large friend.

"I told you I'd see you tonight!" Duo shouted angrily.

"It's past that...," Nick snarled back as he switched his hot gaze to Milliardo, "and I know what's been keeping you. Shit! Don't you even care if Lori comes by? Slut! If I'd known you'd do it anywhere, we wouldn't have bothered messing up my place."

Duo's eyes went flat. Milliardo saw it. Nick didn't. Milliardo knew it for the danger sign it was, had seen it in his own eyes when he had steeled himself to kill other men.

Nick jerked a thumb at Milliardo, a clear signal to leave. "You got your 'piece', so that's done, but there's nothing to keep me from making you pay dear for it, so consider yourself freakin' lucky I'm letting you go. His asshole is mine, you got that? I screw it, nobody else, and he likes it, 'cuz I got the goods... know what I mean? You got nothing to keep him. He might think you're fancy, but it's what I got he'll come back for." He clutched his well endowed bulge as he said it.

As if he expected Milliardo to run in fear, he turned his back and confronted Duo. "I said six. I ain't going all the way back to my place now. You put out for him here, you can dog it for me to." There was the sound of a zipper. "Get to it, and make it good, or I'll kick your ass and teach you a lesson for renting that hole out to someone else."

Milliardo stepped forward. He could see Duo's face red and furious, his dead eyes full on Nick. Nick was about to die, but Duo needed Nick to come in closer. His bad leg was keeping him on the deck. His silence was his bait, and his inaction. It would cause Nick to become angry enough to reach for him.

Milliardo came up beside Nick, looked down at the ample length he was holding out towards Duo, and said with an arched, pale eyebrow, "Is that all, sir? I've done better than that in a cold shower."

Duo laughed, his red fury clearing from his face from one blink to the next. He kept on laughing, head thrown back and eyes dancing. Nick whirled on Milliardo and it was easy to take him down with a chop to the neck. He fell at Duo's feet and Duo snorted in disgust, "Guess I need to call for early trash pickup."

"Your leg," Milliardo asked as he bent his great height down to look Duo in the eye. He didn't comment on what the man had alleged or threatened. He didn't insult Duo by making anything of his help. Duo, he knew, could have brought the man down without any help from him, only Nick would be dead, he thought, not just unconscious. Injured, Duo wouldn't have had the luxury to chance that approach.

"Banged muscles," Duo grunted as he rubbed at it. "Doesn't want to hold my weight."

"I'll take you in, then," Milliardo suggested. When Duo nodded, he lifted Duo in a fireman's carry.

Slung over Milliardo's broad shoulders, Duo said, as if he were talking about the weather. "You know how it is. ... Nick's kind of dangerous. Gave me a rush. I knew he was going to go too far, though, and I was going to have to deck his ass, but I just didn't think it was going to be today."

"And he's well endowed," Milliardo finished blandly.

Duo snickered. "Yeah, that too." He was silent a moment and then he said, as if he needed to. "What he said... he's just a jerk, okay?"

"Of that, I don't have any doubt," Milliardo replied smoothly.

Another silence, as Milliardo climbed the steps to the shop office, and then Duo asked, "So, are you really bigger than that?"

Milliardo stiffened and felt a blush. "I was trying to bring him into my line of attack," he replied.

"Oh," Duo seemed disappointed.

"But," Milliardo felt uncomfortable with blatant crudeness, especially after Nick's foul tirade, "I will put aside modesty long enough to... acknowledge that... I may have several inches on Mr. Nick."

"Shit!" Duo exclaimed in astonishment.

"What's wrong boy?" Lori called out as he came from a back room. When he saw Duo being carried, he swore. "That damned Nick! He-"

"He didn't do anything!" Duo shouted back. "That man couldn't lay a finger on me if I was in a coma. How many times have I got to tell you that?"

"We were wrestling with a panel and it came loose unexpectedly," Milliardo explained as Lori led him into living quarters and to a room and a bed that must have been Duo's.

"It smashed into my leg," Duo added as he kicked off his boots and rolled his pants leg up. A dark bruise, as large as Milliardo's hand, covered a spot just below his kneecap.

"Wimp," Lori growled and waved a dismissive hand at the bruise. He eyed Milliardo. "Watch that boy. He'll make up any excuse to be lazy and to have tall, blonde men carry him... damned pervert!"

"It hurts!" Duo shouted back, pointing at the offending wound.

Lori walked away, making a talking motion with one hand, mocking Duo. "Yadda, yadda! Next you'll be telling me a hangnail needs major surgery."

Duo glared after him, shot him a bird, and then crossed his arms tightly over his chest and glared. "No respect," he growled.

"Is there ice?" Milliardo asked. "We should keep the swelling down."

Duo looked at him, amused. "Nothing bothers you, does it?"

Milliardo smiled, understanding.

"One man calls me his personal fuck toy and another calls me a lazy bastard who likes riding on big men," Duo said bluntly. "That can't make a very good impression, you know?"

Milliardo shook his head and then he gave Duo a piecing look with his ice, blue eye as he said, "Words are only words. I can see for myself what kind of man you are."

Duo looked bemused and curious. "And what kind am I?"

"I haven't decided yet," Milliardo replied truthfully. "I'm still assessing."

"Smooth," Duo grunted and then flopped onto his back as he yelled after Lori, "I don't care what you think, this hurts like hell!"

"Sure, sure, Princess Sweet Pea," Lori called back, but a pack of ice came flying through the bedroom door and landed on the bed with a bounce. "Want me to call a triage unit to help you with that?"

Duo took up the pack and grinned. "He loves me."

Milliardo chuckled. "I think so."

+

"If you think this is going to be an excuse to let you hang around longer, you're wrong," Duo said cheerfully when Milliardo came the next day. He had a makeshift crutch and he used it to hobble past Milliardo and out into the yard, tool belt slung low on his hips and tools jingling together.

Milliardo frowned. Lori looked disgusted from his seat on the other side of the office desk. He motioned towards Duo. "Look, son, you want that piece, you gotta go after him and show him who's boss. He don't like wimps. He likes his men dangerous and controlling... bastards, in a nutshell. You keep backing down from him and he'll get bored real quick."

Milliardo raised pale eyebrows in confusion. "I'm not in search of a relationship, sir. I came here to hire an agent."

Lori made a face. "You lie like shit." He nodded to where Duo was disappearing into the ship. "I see the way you look at him. He gets under your skin real quick. He did mine. Made me feel sorry for him and made me take him in when I didn't give a flying crap for anyone else. Not that I regret it. He's attitude, but he's a good kid under that."

Millirdo frowned. "I don't understand."

"Who does?" Lori snickered, but then grew serious again. "Why am I throwing you at him, you mean? Well, you're different. I can see you're a steady hand and you treat him nice even when he's being a jerk. That boy don't know much about nice, though, so he's going to be suspicious of you. You'll have to do some proving to get his trust."

"Sir...," Milliardo began, trying once again to explain his intentions, but Lori looked pensive and cut him off.

"Look, say whatever you want, It's okay. If I were you, I'd wonder about him too." Lori leaned on the counter and looked hard at Milliardo. "He likes men to take charge and tell him what to do. He likes sitting back and just being the piece of ass. I know that's crude talk for someone like you, but it's the only way I know how to explain it. I don't know why the boy likes things that way. Maybe he'll tell you, because he's never told me. He don't let them hit him, or make him do what he don't like. Don't be stupid and think he's weak like that."

Lori pointed a boney finger at Milliardo for emphasis. "You need to get out there. Take the helm if you want to ride the rocket. I think you're going to be good for him, or I wouldn't be bothering. Don't disappoint me, though, because I know how to use a beam cutter real well."

Milliardo felt a chill at the threat in the man's eyes. He wasn't bluffing and it begged a question. "Where's Nick?"

Lori smirked. "I have connections. He's been kicked off satellite for now. Doesn't mean he can't get back, eventually, but maybe Duo won't be here when that happens?" He sounded almost wistful.

"You want him to come with me?" Milliardo asked, startled, so sure that this man had wanted nothing of the kind when they had first met.

"Not as an agent," Lori corrected him, "but maybe you can get him something better? He needs more than some pitt bulls for boyfriends and an old man to annoy the hell out of."

The com on the counter came to life and Duo's voice startled them. "I thought you were going to help me, Milli?"

Lori punched a button and replied. "He's on his way, half a dick, and don't be disrespectful to the customers."

"Better half than none at all," Duo replied cheerfully and Lori stabbed the button and closed the line with a sour frown and a rueful curse.

"I'm old and I can't waste what's left of my life on raising another kid," Lori told Milliardo. "Get out there and show him what he needs."

Milliardo couldn't find an apt reply to that. Lori wasn't about to listen to any of his protestations. The old man had his mind set firmly and it was clear, from his turned back, that he wasn't going to allow anymore talk on the subject.

Milliardo left the office and found Duo sitting in a semi circle of parts, going over each one and trying to fit them into another part that he had in his lap. His injured leg was stuck out straight and out of harm's way, but it wasn't otherwise slowing him down.

"Breather condenser," Duo explained without looking up. "Regulation calls for one-"

"Every three feet," Milliardo finished. " I'll strip the panels and check the connections and the oxygen filtration feeders."

"Good idea," Duo replied and then he said, as if coming to a decision. "Just ignore Lori. He doesn't know me, not really, and he worries too much about my future. See, he won't be around for long. Besides a bad heart, he breathed in some rad dust on a bad booster and it's hell on his nervous system. He's not the kind of guy to go slow and hard, if you know what I mean? Not when he can take care of himself. So," Duo paused as if he had to steady himself, but then he grinned. It was fierce and had nothing to do with humor; the smile of someone used to spitting in the face of fate. "He keeps wanting to marry me off. You're the first guy that got past the handshake stage, though. He's a picky bastard."

Duo was very quiet then and Milliardo had to eventually fill the silence with an obvious statement. "You were listening, on the com?"

"Yeah, " Duo admitted with a shrug. "The old man likes to tell me he's fine when he's not, so I rigged it to go on when I want it to, so I can listen in." He pointed to the com hanging from his pocket. "I also have emergency on speed dial A guy with his laundry list of problems has a reserved bed there."

"Duo," Milliardo said carefully, not wanting to offend, "I am here only to recruit you as an agent. Rather than upset, Mr, Lori, though, I will keep that information to myself."

"You're not my type anyway," Duo growled and Milliardo was surprised to hear a bit of temper. "Nice, blonde princes... Well, Lori told you what I like."

"Why?" Milliardo asked and then nervously, "I'm sorry, that is not my business."

"Damn right, it's not!" Duo retorted. He worked on his parts for a long stretch and Milliardo considered the topic, thankfully, closed, but then Duo said, as if he were musing over it himself, "I guess I have a screwed up need to have someone else call the shots. My perfect guy, a controlling bastard, makes me feel safe, wanted, and like I don't have to worry about things anymore. It feels good... having someone take care of things completely... I didn't have that. I always looked after myself with no one giving a damn. When you do that from an age where you can't remember anything else, you want to just give everything up and be a kid." He blushed. "I'm not explaining it very good, I know. It's complicated. Lori tried to get me to go to a shrink, but... I like it, and I don't let them go too far, you know, so what's bad?"

Milliardo knew he wasn't expected to reply. He found himself looking at Duo, though, at the bent form pretending to work on his part, and felt a strong need to be that for Duo, to protect him and care for him. It startled Milliardo and he was shocked at himself, but he couldn't deny that it was there. He couldn't think of Duo as a child, because there was nothing of a child in Duo Maxwell, but he could think of him as a man, perhaps wounded in combat, who needed him to keep the enemy at bay. If Duo found it hard to explain his need, Milliardo was finding it hard to explain his own, even to himself.

"If Nick comes back here, he will be sorry," Milliardo suddenly muttered and blushed as he said it, wanting Duo to hear him, wanting him to know that he was offering something when he could have sworn, in Lori's office, that he didn't want to offer any such thing. Faced with Duo, though, it was impossible to lie any longer to himself. His need to find an agent had turned into more, much more.

"Why?" Duo asked and the tone of his voice was suddenly amused, hopeful, and a challenge all rolled into that one word.

In Duo's world, people said what they meant, crude and otherwise. Milliardo knew better than to give Duo a reply that was phrased for a board meeting or a grand dinner party. He replied, blushing a little, but firmly resolved, "Because your ass is now mine."

Duo blinked at him, shocked, a wrench clattering from his hand onto the deck, but then he recovered and replied in a clear challenge, "My ass is not that easy."

"You'll give it to me before I leave here," Milliardo was quick to reply. He felt like he was on a battlefield again, trading hit for hit with a dangerous enemy, and using an unfamiliar weapon, but he had always been a quick study.

"We'll see about that," Duo retorted and he was frowning. Despite that, Milliardo could see the sparkle in his eyes. He had wanted this too. They had both been dancing around it, not wanting to acknowledge it, and it was a relief to finally bring it to light.

"We'll work now, if you like, and talk later about this," Milliardo suggested as he turned back to his panels. His first mistake. He heard a small sigh from Duo. Weakness. Duo didn't like wimps, Lori had said, he liked men like Nick. Milliardo had to prove that he could not only fill that man's big shoes, but be the better man.

Milliardo turned to Duo, reached down, and hauled him up by his braid. It would have hurt him, but Milliardo had grabbed Duo by the collar as well. He gave Duo a hard shake, and then said in his face with a fierce frown, "I want my part. We're going to finish it, understand?" And then he let Duo drop back onto the deck. Duo grunted and glared, but respect was there in the half smile he gave Milliardo.

Milliardo turned back to his panel and realized that he had enjoyed that. So much of his life had been controlled, by his family, by Treize, by Relena's government, and now by the Preventers. It had felt good to order once again, the way that he had ordered men during the war. That had given him satisfaction as well, but nothing that had been strong enough to warm a place inside of him that had been cold for far too long. They were a match. Across planets, out in the darkness of space, and here on a wandering satellite, they had come together all unknowing.... or not, if Duo was right about Wu Fei's intervention. If that were true, then he might have to thank the man for being so insightful.

Milliardo still needed Duo as an agent, but now... It felt unprofessional, against regulations, and against the order that he had made out of his life, but... he didn't care. In that brief time, as mad as it sounded, he had developed a complete desire for the man working so close to him, a man, on first meeting, that he had thought had been on the edge of lunatic and certainly of no interest to himself outside of Preventer business.

"Thirteen inches," Milliardo suddenly said to the panel in front of him.

"You measured?" Duo snickered, but there was awe in his voice as well.

"Just a warning," Milliardo grunted. "I know how to use it too."

"I'll remember that," Duo chuckled, but then amended, "Not that you'll get a chance."

"I get what I want," Milliardo assured him. "Another warning."

He would in no way ever harm Duo, but the threat was part of it, he knew from watching Nick. Nick had forgotten the game, though, and had made the mistake of thinking that Duo was weak, that he would actually allow that. Milliardo hadn't needed Lori's warning to know better.

"I've never been good at listening to warnings," Duo said, but he was grinning in earnest now and Milliardo knew that Duo had accepted him.

[part 2] [part 4] [back to Kracken's fic]