by Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/Male sex and relationships. language. Violence. Zechs being very self destructive. Heero being very mean.
This is a 2x6 series and it's slightly OOC. It takes place after the war and this Duo is not the same Duo as in the Shinigami's Lover series. I'm going to get off my lazy ass and number them this time.
Thanks to everyone who bought my book on amazon.com. I'm a poor artist and I need the shekels. If anyone else is interested, information is in my bio. Luv ya all!

The Lost Soldiers series #1
Out of the Blue

Milliardo Peacecraft exited the theater, pulling on gloves against the cold and shrugging deeper into his chocolate colored coat. He sighed, feeling black depression weigh heavily on his shoulders. The frivolous court that he had just dutifully wined, dined, and entertained had only made the depression sink its claws deeper. He needed a drink, not fancy champagne or expensive wine, but something baser and more fierce, something strong enough to shove him into oblivion, an oblivion where the pain couldn't reach.

Almost two years had passed since the war had ended. Nearly two years of drifting in his sister's shadow, watching her take everything he had always dreamed of having; Sanq Kingdom, a high position among men, and a chance to change the world and make a difference. What could he do now, but bow to her will and become her ambassador of fools? Those fools thought more of their own enjoyments than his plans or even hers. Peace, prosperity, security, and an alliance of colony and Earth, as tightly knit as a woven cloth, were the stuff of his dreams, his plans, yet he couldn't accomplish anything without power. Relena had all the power and Relena had chosen not to trust him with it.

Who could blame her, Milliardo thought darkly. He had tried to destroy so many people to achieve his goals. The excuse of being under the influence of a zero system wasn't even good enough for him, let alone the leader of Earth and Space. He deserved the life he had been given. In fact, he thought, sinking even deeper into the blackness. He deserved far worse.

Maybe tonight.

Milliardo needed his limo. He needed to find a place to get his strong drink. Fingering the beeper in his pocket, he idly scanned the street and the sidewalk as he began to push the button that would alert his driver. His finger froze.

A figure lounged against the brick wall of a building. He was watching the important people slowly coming out of the theater, but it wasn't in awe or in anticipation. It was... in desperation? Milliardo let go of his beeper, not sure why he did it, or maybe... yes, he did know. The figure against the wall was provocative, different, fascinating. Milliardo felt the need for a diversion, a diversion from the dark thoughts that were beginning to turn violent.

Milliardo slowly approached, giving himself time to study the figure. Long legs in tight black jeans and an enticing bulge at the crotch. Black ankle boots with pointed toes and silver heels. A long sleeved, white shirt unbuttoned at the collar. A long, black coat that swept past his heels and gave ample pocket room for the hands he had thrust inside of them to keep warm. The face. It made Milliardo want to laugh and that was saying something in his present mood. It was the face of an elf, all pointy planes, big cheeks and... Milliardo took a deep breath in awe. The young man had two of the largest and most luminous eyes Milliardo had ever seen on a man. They sparkled like moonlight on purple mist from under a unruly thatch of chestnut hair. That hair... it was the hair that made Milliardo start at memory.

An interrogation room monitor. Milliardo had leaned on a control console and idly watched several interrogations at one time on a split screen. Unpleasant duty. He had hated it, the cold, calculating reduction of a man until he would say anything, do anything to escape the professionally administered drugs and pain.

" A little to the left!" A cheery voice said suddenly. Milliardo blinked and adjusted the screen until it was showing only one room and the prisoner who was panting in pain, but still attempting a joke. "You almost got that itch, man."

He was bound to a chair and restrained heavily. He was very young. Two men stood over him using shock rods. The boy jerked and writhed at each touch, spitting and groaning as his body betrayed him by trying to get away from the pain. As soon as the shock let up though, he was back to grinning and joking.

"Nice party!" The prisoner gasped out hoarsely. "Make sure you put me on the call list for the next one."

One of his tormentors lost control. Angrily, he raised a steel toed boot and slammed it into the boy's ribs. Broken for certain, Milliardo thought as the boy strangled on a cry and then hung limply in his bonds, unconscious.

"Stop!" Milliardo commanded through the speaker. The men jerked to attention. "You are on report, sir," he told the man who had lost his temper. The man flushed scarlet. "This is an interrogation. We don't want the prisoner to die. Have him treated and put back in his cell."

They had unbound the boy without question and Milliardo had watched him dragged from the room. It was then that he had seen that incredible length of braid trailing on the floor.

He was seeing it now on this slightly older version of the prisoner. The braid had grown longer, but the young man hadn't. He wasn't tall and he was thinner and more wiry than Milliardo remembered. He looked desperate and that suited Milliardo's plans for him perfectly.

"Waiting for someone?" Milliardo asked in his husky voice. The young man looked him up and down. Milliardo wasn't self conscious. He knew the man was seeing a tall, well built person with a long fall of snow white hair, an incredibly handsome face, and ice blue eyes under strong white brows. He was dressed impeccably and he carried himself with an air only good breeding could give a person.

"Not Milliardo Peacecraft," the young man replied with an annoyed drawl to his voice. Milliardo searched his memory for the accent, Ah, yes, he thought, L2, den of thieves, prostitutes, and the impoverished. He definitely had the upper hand.

"I'm at a disadvantage," Milliardo replied with an arched white brow. "You are-?"

Duo smirked self deprecatingly. "I guess I'm not as famous as the other Gundam pilots."

"Gundam pilot?" Milliardo came to attention, the soldier in him on alert as he found himself facing an old enemy.

"Duo Maxwell," Duo replied and then turned his eyes to the theater again. "If you don't mind. I have business."

"Business?" Milliardo wondered, still stunned by Duo's revelation.

Duo looked uncomfortable. He didn't explain. Milliardo noted his sunken face, his large cheeks made even more prominent because of it. He was blue with cold. It was obvious that he had been standing outside for a long while. That look of desperation surfaced in Duo's eyes again. Milliardo thought that he understood it.

The people continued to file out of the theater. Duo noted each one, a slight tick of disappointment evident each time he failed to see who he wished.

"Well," Duo wondered sharply. "Are you going to just stare at me like I'm a sideshow freak, Milli?"

Milliardo frowned at the shortening of his name. "Who are you looking for?"

Duo's shoulders tightened and then he admitted. "Quatre Winner."

"Another Gundam pilot," Milliardo said.

"Yeah, we use to be friends." Duo shrugged and again Milliardo saw that self deprecating grin. "I guess I'm hoping for a lot to expect that he'd see me again, especially here."

"He is a kind man," Milliardo noted.

Duo turned away suddenly and glared at the ground. "Yeah, he is. Too kind."

"He wasn't there at the gathering. He declined at the last minute," Milliardo lied.

Duo stiffened and then slumped dejectedly against the wall. He sighed and burrowed his hands deeper into his pockets. "Shinigami's luck, as usual," he said. "I read in the paper he was attending this get together I was hoping..." He glared at Milliardo.

"Hoping what?" Milliardo wondered.

"Why am I even talking to you?" Duo demanded hotly. "What do you want, man?"

You, Milliardo though viciously, but said, pleasantly enough, "It's cold. You're blue with it. Why don't you allow me to buy you dinner?" He motioned absently to the people leaving the theater. "I've become so tired of insipid fools. I need to speak with someone who understands me, someone who was in the war as well."

Milliardo reached into his pocket and pressed the call button. His limo pulled up to the curb and the driver jumped out and opened the passenger door. Duo stared at the car's interior, nervous and uncertain. Milliardo realized that he was going to lose his prize if he insisted. Instead, he spoke briefly to the driver and gave him directions to a restaurant a few blocks away.

"We'll walk," Milliardo said, as if it were all decided. "It isn't far and it's quiet. I'll order a private room and no one will bother us."

The young man grinned. That made it hard to gauge his real mood, but it was telling that he said quickly, "Forget the private room. We'll eat out where everyone else is, Milli." He didn't trust his old enemy. He wasn't a fool then.

"Don't call me that," Milliardo replied angrily, but then forced himself to relax again. "Sorry. I've always hated that nickname. I much prefer Zechs if Milliardo is too trying for you."

"Okay, Zechs," Duo agreed with an even wider grin. "I'll let you wine and dine me, but, just so you know in advance, I can snap your neck in less than a blink of an eye. I'm a trained killer, so don't get any ideas about revenge."

Zechs grinned back. "I'm an honorable man, sir. I've fought duels before. The rules don't include a poison drink or a dagger in a back room. I assure you, Duo Maxwell, that my intentions are just as I stated. I'm bored. I'm tired of fools. I'm tired of insipid conversation. I want to talk to you soldier to soldier. We don't have to be enemies any longer."

Duo gave him a long, silent appraisal and then he made up his mind. "Okay, Zechs. Let's go talk."

They began to walk down the sidewalk just as a light drizzle of rain began. Duo shivered and hunkered into his coat. Zechs found himself coming up close behind the smaller man, almost instinctively, to block some of the rain.

Glancing behind him with a soldier's automatic wariness, Zechs saw Quatre Winner exit the theater, gold hair shining in the lights and his ever present smile warm on his entourage of admirers. He would have welcomed Duo with open arms, Zechs knew, and felt the adrenalin excitement of an enemy thwarted. Duo was going to be his tonight, he thought. Quatre could have his leavings afterwards.

Duo walked slowly. It made Zechs impatient the way the boy seemed mesmerized by every store front and wary of every puddle of water. They didn't say much, just a comment about something Duo saw every now and then. The young man was looking uncertain again, almost as if he were forcing himself to do something wrong and didn't approve of himself. Zechs began to guess that his uncertain state of mind was the cause of his dragging steps. Zechs tried to reassure him, draw him deeper into his net.

"I truly respected all of the Gundam pilots, Heero Yuy especially," Zechs said. "It was an honor and a great challenge to battle with you. Your abilities and your dedication, as young as all of you were, was phenomenal. I always regretted being your enemy."

Duo quirked a vicious smile and looked at him sideways. "Really? Was that before or after you tried to wipe out everyone on Earth?"

Zechs felt a moment of blinding, exquisite fury. It was everything he could do to quell it and to say, in a normal tone. "Circumstances don't always let us chose our actions."

"Meaning it wasn't your fault?" Duo sounded edgy, sarcastic. "I'm sure all of the soldiers who died, protecting Earth from you, could give a rat's ass whether you blame yourself or someone else. You tried to do it, Zechs."

Zechs was losing him, and, for a moment, he almost wished he would. The young man was bringing up the exact subject that he so wished to avoid.

"Well," Duo said with a dark chuckle. "You haven't pulled out a gun and shot me yet. Maybe I can trust you... a little."

Zechs shot a hard look at Duo. The young man had a plastered on grin, but his purple eyes were flat and hard. He had made a mistake thinking that Duo was going to be easy entertainment. He was going to be a challenge instead, and Zechs found that he much preferred that. He was done with dealing with the insipid.

Zechs kept his voice even. "If you believe that I am the architect of attempted mass murder, then why come with me at all?"

Duo thought that over, eyes narrowing. "Good question," he said at last. "I don't know the answer to it yet." Truthful, straight forward. "I should be ready to starve to death rather than accept a handout from you." He stopped and frowned, realizing what he was saying. He shut his mouth and it went into a thin line.

Ah, Zechs thought, mystery solved? He studied Duo surreptitiously as they began walking again. The young pilot had looked well dressed and ready for a night on the town. In reality, his clothes were wrinkled and creased, as if he had slept in them for more than one night. His face was very pale and sunken a little under his prominent cheeks. There was a tight look to his expression as well, an expression that was suffering, but determined. Used to gauging soldiers at a glance to estimate their danger or ability, Zechs recognized instantly someone on the edge of collapse. It had only been Duo's outgoing nature and his vibrant good looks that had kept Zechs from seeing it before.

It made sense then, Duo's need to see Quatre Winner. If Duo was indeed lacking in a place to live and money for food, then Quatre, his wealthy, fellow Gundam pilot, would have been a likely choice to beg a favor of. Duo's prickly behavior of before was understandable in light of that. Duo's pride had been stinging.

Zechs kept the smile off of his face, but he was very pleased to have a trump card now. Duo was in need. That was a powerful weapon.

+

Duo Maxwell's appetite was phenomenal. After Zechs had assured him that he was paying for everything and to order what he wished, Zechs settled back in their semi private booth and watched the ex Gundam pilot eat two steaks, a helping of noodles in white sauce, onion soup with cheeses melted on the top, and an order of sauteed vegetables garnished with stuffed mushrooms. The young man guzzled down three glasses of milk at the end of it all and then wiped his mouth, finally raising his eyes to Zechs. Zechs expected Duo to throw it all back up at any moment. It didn't seem possible that Duo's slim body could hold it all safely.

Duo grinned, guessing his thoughts. "Don't worry, I won't explode."

Zechs raised a pale eyebrow. "Where did you put it all?"

Duo chuckled as he piled the empty plates on top of each other and motioned the server to take them away. "Coffee," he said to the man, but Zechs held up a hand.

"Brandy," Zechs ordered instead. "A serious drink for serious reminiscing."

Duo frowned as the server went away. "I don't drink. It slows reaction time."

Zechs cocked his head at him as he shoved his own uneaten plate of scampi away from him. "The war is over," Zechs replied bitterly. "You don't need fast reflexes any more. You can drink yourself into the gutter. It doesn't matter."

Duo shrugged self deprecatingly. "I guess old habits die hard, especially since I learned them on L2, not as a Gundam pilot."

The brandy came along with two goblets. Zechs filled them both and pushed one towards Duo. He didn't take it. "L2," Zechs repeated, and then rudely, "So, were you a thief, a whore, or a drug dealer?"

Duo blinked and grinned. Zechs was learning that Duo's grin wasn't necessarily a sign of happiness, it was a sign of danger as well, danger for whomever was testing his temper. That someone, this time, was Zechs. "I could be a rich politician's son. Don't I look the type?"

Zechs was truthful. "No."

"You do," Duo replied, salting an old wound without knowing it.

Zechs thrust his anger down and replied quietly. "So...? "

Duo frowned and bowed his head so that his bangs hid his unusual eyes. He played with the goblet of bandy. "Guess."

"Not a whore," Zechs replied and Duo looked up, startled. "You're far too smart."

Duo's face went dark and his mouth twitched downward. "Too smart? You must think most whores have a choice." he paused and then, in a lighter tone, "You are right, though. I am far too smart."

"Thief then."

Duo's mouth quirked. "Why thief instead of drug dealer?"

"Drug dealers don't need personality," Zechs replied. "They have something everyone has to have. A thief... a thief has to be able to run the con and fool the mark."

Duo chuckled. "All right, you guessed. Are you going to have me arrested?"

Zechs shook his head, pushing loose strands of his long, white hair back over his shoulder. "You're a hero," he replied. "A national treasure. A Gundam pilot. You saved the Earth. You saved the colonies. You brought peace."

Duo's face turned dark and his slim hands closed on the stem of the goblet hard. "Yeah, all of that!" he growled angrily. "What good did it do me in the end?" As if making up his mind suddenly, he snorted derisively and brought the goblet to his lips. He wasn't unfamiliar with the taste of alcohol, that was apparent, but he still screwed his face up at the fire.

Zechs sighed. "Don't drink Brandy to drown depression. Brandy is to stir the thoughts and loosen the tongue."

Duo raised eyebrows as he took another cautious sip. "A truth serum?" he asked jokingly.

Zechs smiled back. "Of sorts. Sometimes a man can be too cautious. It hampers the ability to exchange deeper thoughts."

Duo shrugged as he put his goblet down and turned the stem idly in his hands. "I'm afraid I'm not very deep, Zechs. Maybe you should have picked on Trowa Barton or Heero Yuy."

"They weren't standing on a street corner in the rain."

A hot bitter look past over Duo's face. He quickly stifled it, but words came unwillingly from his lips. The brandy was working on his untrained tongue, "Heero should have been."

Zechs filed that comment and chose not to pursue it. He turned the conversation to the war instead and their places in it. He philosiphied and tried to find the meaning while Duo scoffed and sneered and finally called Zechs an aristocrat as if it were a swear word.

"You think war is noble and a fine game," Duo bit out as he took a longer drink of his brandy. His hand was white on the stem and his eyes were hard and a little wild with memory. "It took everything away from me, again and again, killed everyone I loved, made me kill and fight in a Gundam when I should have been playing harmless pranks and going to school without a care in the world. It took from me, the war. For you, it just gave you opportunities."

That wasn't true, but Zechs didn't defend himself. Duo was slipping into a warm drunk and anything he said at that point would only fuel Duo's depression and anger. He waited instead, nodding as Duo placed the blame and wished for revenge, a revenge he couldn't have now that there was peace.

Duo's head bobbed. His striking, purple eyes hooded. His handsome face flushed. Zechs nodded to himself and hid his smile. Now. It was time. The prize was his.

Zechs rose from his seat and moved around to Duo. Duo blinked up at him and then began to collapse sideways. Only Zech's hand under his arm kept him from hitting the floor. "You should rest," he said, feeling that Duo was already past hearing, but wanting the other patrons to hear. He didn't want stories of Milliardo Peacecraft kidnapping a pilot to circulate the loose tongues and the media. "I'll take you to a hotel room and let you sleep it off, my friend."

Hooking a strong arm around Duo, Zechs felt a slight shock as he felt ribs and a hard wiry body. Duo was as light as a feather. The young man had obviously been living on the edge for some time. There was also a scent about him, a telltale clue that told Zechs that the street might have been his home for a few days. Duo was in desperate need. Zechs grew warm with pleasure as he realized it. Duo needed and Zechs knew how to take full advantage of that need.

+

Duo slipped into complete unconsciousness in the limo. Zechs had the driver take them to an expensive hotel, well appointed, and mindful of his privacy. They didn't ask any questions when he carried Duo to his new room and they were eager to fulfill all of his requests for personal items, clothing and toiletries for the young man, and a carefully chosen meal to deal with an upset stomach when he awoke.

Zechs was patience itself until the items he requested arrived. He was the panther stalking his prey now, and he knew the importance of choosing the ground for the kill. When everything was settled and the servants had gone, only then did Zechs lock the door and turn to his prey.

Duo was sprawled out on the bed on his back, face pale and long braid a chestnut trail along the coverlet. He was breathing softly. He didn't look drunk. He looked very young, disturbingly so, and untroubled by dreams. The sight almost made Zechs pause and reconsider... almost.

The depression still gripped him. He still needed a distraction, this hunt and conquest, to keep his mind occupied and to keep the darkness from engulfing him and gnawing on his soul. He feared that darkness, hated it, hated it enough to do almost anything to avoid it.

Zechs moved quietly to stand by the bed. His hands trembled as he reached down and slowly began undoing the buttons of Duo's shirt. Why did it feel so wrong? Zechs had tumbled scores of willing men and women, people who were eager to do anything to bask in his glow, drawn by his position, his good looks, and his connections. Never once had he hesitated or given thought to the morality of it. He slaked his need and they spread their legs... willingly... perhaps a few, not so willing. War was war. Opportunities weren't always pure and clean cut.

A Gundam pilot. The enemy. A brash, rude, gutter rat who admitted to thievery. It was a privilege for someone like that to be noticed by someone like Zechs. He almost convinced himself that Duo would wake and be glad, grateful even, especially when Zechs rewarded him with some much needed credit. Yes, he'd reward Duo a thousand times over to keep that self destructive darkness at bay.

Half of the buttons were undone. Zechs, eager to see Duo's nipples, spread the material out. A chill traveled up his spine. Bandages were revealed instead of the creamy skin he had expected. The bandages were spotted with fresh and dried blood.

Zechs took a long moment to process this new development. He finished unbuttoning Duo's shirt and then he peeled it back completely. What he found was ugly. Someone had beaten Duo to within an inch of his life. The wounds had been professionally treated, but Zechs, trained in battle first aide, could see plainly that Duo should have still been in a hospital bed recovering, not wandering rainy streets on the edge of starvation. His slow steps on the way to the restaurant were suddenly understandable.

Prey turned into victim in the blink of an eye. Zechs didn't question that, didn't stop to think why he didn't call an ambulance then and there and have the boy taken for treatment. His use to Zechs was done. He wasn't in any shape to be a diversion. Zechs wasn't so far gone as to take pleasure in a rack of bones and wounds.

Zechs checked all of the boys' wounds and felt a wave of anger and disgust at the impression of steel toed boots on soft skin and obvious hand and fist marks all over the young man. Someone had beaten him far past what was necessary to make any point. It was clearly the sign of some unbalanced mind. Zechs, dealing with his own inner demons, could recognize the signs easily.

Zechs finished and then made the young man more comfortable on the bed. He covered him with the blanket, even though Duo still had on his coat, and left him there.

Zechs ordered a bottle of strong liquor from room service and, after it had been delivered and he had been left alone again, he did what he had planned to do before running into a long haired Gundam pilot. Zechs proceeded to drown his depression until he didn't feel anything any more.

+

"Heero?" Duo said into the phone. His head was pounding and there was a sick, bitter taste in his mouth. He had woken up alone in a strange hotel room. A brief note from Zechs had told him to order room service and to make himself comfortable. Duo had checked to make sure his clothes were still buttoned and zipped and had felt tremendous relief to discover that they were. He was puzzled, but glad that he had only made a jackass of himself and passed out drunk rather than the unthinkable alternative. He wasn't ready to give up his virginity yet, not to a man and not especially to Zechs, Milliardo Peacecraft, his enemy.

"Heero?" Duo repeated. "Come on man! Don't be like this! Let's forgive and forget, okay buddy? You were wrong. I was wrong. No, I wasn't looking at you when you came out of the shower! I promise! I don't go that way, Heero, honest! Yeah... yeah, I'll get a job and I'll keep it this time. No, no more baka Duo. Hey, uh, thanks for sending me to the hospital, man. I know... yeah, I wouldn't want someone's corpse stinking up my apartment either. Thanks Heero. I'll do better this time, okay, just let me move back in... what, you threw out my stuff?" Duo swallowed hard and wiped at his eyes. "S'okay, Heero. Yeah, I'll just get new stuff. Just let me... really? Thanks man! I'll be there in an hour!"

Duo hung up the phone. He took a deep breath, feeling a mingling of relief and trepidation. Time to go home.

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