The Lost Soldiers series #3 (cont)
Twisted Up

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"Sir, there's a young man at the front entrance who is asking for you," the cultured voice of the servant said with some trepidation from the intercom system.

"One of Relena's servants? Im not in any mood to see her tonight," Zechs growled as he downed a glass of wine with a few gulps and then put the glass down on a side table a little too hard. He glared at the fireplace, lounging in a comfortable, blue cotton shirt and white cotton pants. He white hair was a loose fall over his shoulders and his bangs were disordered and hanging over his intense blue eyes. He had just sent another young man on his way after a dissatisfying evening of insipid talk and even more insipid sex. Zechs was poised to go out on the town and find another diversion, one who had more of a chance of distracting him from the darkness with in himself.

"Sir...,' the voice stopped and then decided to rethink his rash decision to interrupt Zechs. "I'll call for the police sir. I'm sorry to bother you. He's obviously some demented street person..."

Zechs sat up straight in his chair, senses becoming alert. "Wait! Describe him."

"Well, sir...," the voice struggled to find a concise description. "He is wearing shorts, sir, even in this ghastly weather, and loafers instead of proper shoes. He is blue with cold and he doesn't look well, sir. He has... well sir, he has hair at least five feet long and it's tangled and wet. I am reluctant to send him back outside for fear that he will expire in under a minute. He looks that bad off, sir. I'm sure the proper authorities will take him under their care and make certain-"

"You're a good man, to care about such an individual," Zechs replied smoothly, "We should show a little charity. Have my personal physician call here at once and have him be prepared to treat someone with borderline starvation, severe contusions, broken bones possibly, and perhaps hypothermia. I will be down to see him shortly."

The man seemed relieved and pleased. "Very good sir. Thank you sir. He looks like such a young child..."

Zechs cut him off. He didn't want that image in his head, of a helpless, child Duo. He wanted luscious, ready to be taken advantage of, Gundam pilot, Duo instead. He tried to conjure that image and hold onto it as he made his way downstairs and found several servants standing around Duo solicitously. Duo was seated on a chair, hair loose and soaking wet all around him, purple eyes strained and nervous. He was only wearing shorts and a thin shirt. Someone had draped towels over him, but he was still shivering. He did look like a child and Zechs found himself reacting to him that way despite his best efforts not to.

"Duo Maxwell," Zechs greeted smoothly.

"Zechs," Duo chattered back. His arms were gripping himself tightly. Those arms were thin, the elbows knobby. Zechs saw bruises, dark and fresh, on his wrists and upper, bare arms. Something had definitely happened again.

"It's a terrible night to be out in, especially so poorly dressed. " Zechs said, leaving it up to Duo how much to reveal and curious to see if he would reveal anything at all.

"I-I thought," Duo tried to stop his teeth from chattering. "Maybe, we could talk awhile, you know, about old times. It seemed a good night for reminiscing."

Was he that desperate for a place out of the cold and wet? What had happened with Quatre or any of the other Gundam pilots? Why didn't he go to them? It reinforced the impression that Duo was a child, a child who couldn't think how to take care of himself and needed others to take care of him. Zechs reminded himself sharply that Duo was a child of L2. He had cut his teeth on thievery and survival. If he was acting the innocent, hoping for pity, it was deliberate and calculated. Zechs hardened his heart and chuckled to himself as he began to play the game again, his need for a diversion satisfied, at least for the night.

"I'm too tired for conversation," Zechs replied. "Why don't you stay in one of the guest rooms and we'll meet for breakfast when we're both rested?"

Duo considered, a deliberate, face saving pause. Zechs wasn't fooled. Duo's entire body had reacted with relief at Zechs words. He was desperate. Zechs could see that clearly. "I suppose I could do that," Duo said with a shaky smile. "I'm kind of tired too. Thanks for the hospitality, Zechs."

"Think nothing of it," Zechs replied and then gave orders to his staff. They hustled Duo up the stairs to a guest room, clucking and trying to get him to agree to dinner, robes, slippers, and a hot bath. Duo walked slow, not able to hide a limp, and Zechs could tell that he was at the end of his strength, still, he paused and considered each offer from the servants as if he might refuse. He didn't, though, not to any of it.

Zechs waited for the doctor. When the man arrived, he gave him a terse explanation without revealing his patient's name. The doctor nodded gravely as they walked to Duo's room, saying, "Abuse? That's a nasty business. Repeated? I'll leave you the number of a good psychologist. The boy will need help. It is often hard for an abused individual to stop the urge to return and try to make things better. They often end up blaming themselves for the abuse and they believe that trying harder to be a better person, or to do what their abuser wants, will stop the cycle. He will need counseling to understand that this isn't so."

They knocked and entered Duo's room. The servants were still in the room and in a panic. Zechs breasted through them with the doctor and saw why they were so upset. Duo had collapsed onto the bed, unconscious, pale, and breathing raggedly.

"Damn!" the doctor exclaimed and began opening up the large case he had carried up with him. He jerked Duo's clothes off of him and examined him quickly and thou roughly, keeping his body between Duo and Zechs and the servants. "Exposure, malnutrition, contusions, slight concussion, hair line fractures, dehydration... this boy needs a hospital, sir."

Zechs shook his head. Duo wasn't going to escape him again. "You were told to bring all necessary supplies with you. Whatever you require, I will have someone acquire. This is a private matter."

The doctor gaped. "But..."

"Your credentials are impeccable," Zechs snapped, using his best military voice. "You are quite capable of treating him."

"Yes, but..," the doctor sighed, well used to aristocratic quirks. He as already making assumptions about the long haired boy and his relationship with Zechs. He could understand Zechs not wanting any scandal. "As you wish, sir. If you would clear the room, I will set up my equipment and begin treatment."

Zechs leaned a little to look past the doctor. He drank in the sight of Duo's slim body. Despite being thin and damaged, he was absolutely lovely. Wiry, yet smooth and well defined, a dusting of hair here and there, but still boyishly free of it. He was a man where manhood counted most, Zechs noticed, and felt a stirring in his own manhood when he saw that. Yes, Duo was worth the trouble, he thought, and more. He nodded to the doctor as he turned to leave, half an acknowledgement and half a threat to do his very best with Duo. Once Duo was well again, Zechs thought with an anticipatory air, the scales of debt would be tipped so heavily In Zechs favor, that claiming him completely wasn't going to be any trouble at all. The field was his, Zechs thought, and so too the prize.

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