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

Princes and Soldiers series + Part 14

"Hey, Milliardo," a familiar voice said and Milliardo turned and frowned at the man approaching him.

Milliardo was not in the mood to talk. He had just had a very long session with Heero Yuy that morning, and though his questions had all been satisfactorily answered and his order, to see the staff psychologist for an evaluation, complied with, he was still left with a sense that he was flying in the face of every military precept to allow Heero to keep his job. It made him irritable, especially since he was now forced to go to Sally Po and explain his report and his reasoning behind it when 'feeling' that Heero would complete a mission no matter what the cost to himself, or Duo Maxwell, was in no way supported by current facts.

"Busy?" the man who had spoken was Gregory Sharp, a commander for a special ops unit that Milliardo had worked with before. A tall, dark, spit and polish soldier from a well placed family, Milliardo considered him a friend, though not a close one. They sometimes had more than a working relationship and had gone to social occasions more than once. Milliardo supposed that was why the man felt free to say, "Heard that you were out with Duo Maxwell the other day and ran into a bit of trouble."

Milliardo winced inwardly. "If you are going to chastise me for getting into that type of situation, you don't need to bother. I've done enough of that myself."

Sharp shrugged and chuckled. "You are damned notorious. I don't see how you can avoid situations like that completely. " He rubbed the back of his neck and seemed suddenly nervous. He gave a swift look around them and then leaned close when he saw that the hallway was empty. "What I want to know is, is he as good as I think he is?"

Milliardo grunted. "He's an excellent fighter. I was very impressed by his-"

Sharp snorted. "Milliardo! I meant, is he any good on his back?" The man grinned. "The talk is that you've taken up with that pretty little soldier boy. I have to tell you that we are all envious, well, at least those of us with that sort of interest. " The man winked.

Milliardo stared and then, his rage on a tight leash, he began to reply, "What gave you the impression that I-?"

The man snickered. "Oh, come on Milliardo! We knew you wouldn't be able to resist him once he ended up under your command! We were laying bets from the first day. I know you come off as damned stuffy and correct, but I know that you have the same blood in your veins as I do." He clapped Milliardo on the back. "Just let me be the first to know when you get tired of him. When you kick him out your bed, I want to be there to get him into mine. You can tell me all the buttons to push to make him open those lovely, long legs for me, too, all right?"

Milliardo was used to the crudeness of soldiers. He had learned to ignore it and to sometimes to join in with it to bond with his men. In that office building, though, far away from any war, or even a barracks room, the last thing that he had expected was to run into it and to receive it from such a person; one of his own peers. That alone was enough to make him tremble with disgust and anger, that the man was talking about Duo, as if he were something less than they were, a toy to be played with and then handed on to the next man, was enough to make Milliardo see red and to feel rage burn through him as if he were on fire.

Milliardo's eyes cleared and he stared down at the man sprawled at his feet. He'd decked Sharp with a roundhouse punch without thinking. The man was rubbing his jaw and blinking stupidly. "I am Duo Maxwell's commanding officer," Milliardo said in a dangerous voice he hardly recognized as his own. "If you speak of him to me, or anyone else, in that manner again, I won't be responsible for my actions." Milliardo gave the hall a swift glance. It was still empty, the hour early enough that many people hadn't yet arrived at work. "Don't imagine that you will report this incident either," he continued. "I'm not above countering with a report of my own pertaining to your words to me and what they imply about your behavior towards those of lower rank under your command."

The man sneered and slowly stood up. "All right, Milliardo. I know how important your image is to you. I guess you wouldn't want just anyone knowing that you strayed in your entertainment and sampled some cheap fare. Just don't keep him long or the talk WILL spread with or without my help. You might need a man like that to polish your boots, but you don't ask him to stay for dinner afterwards."

The rage almost washed over Milliardo again and his hand balled into a fist, but Sharp was already walking away, his face red with anger and dark with resentment.

The monarchies were dead, Milliardo thought bitterly, but the attitude of the people who had been a part of them lingered. They still maintained their class structure, they still attempted to rule, using their wealth and prestige to gain them land and positions of importance, and they still retained their acute snobbery. Command positions, whatever the military organization, were too often held by the elite, since they could afford the better schools and connections. It was a sad fact that these elitist commanders too often brought their aristocratic standards and attitudes with them. They looked on their subordinates, not with just the distance of a commander for a foot soldier, but also with the attitude that they had been born better than their subordinates. Milliardo wished that he could say that what Sharp, or others like him, said didn't matter, but that would have been naive. He had Relena to think about and he had the respect and trust of his men to think about also. If Sharp wanted to make trouble, he could make a great deal of it.

Common sense and prudence told Milliardo to call it quits with Duo. The situation was ripe for disaster. Sharp was insulted and Milliardo had bruised his ego as well as his face. A call to Sally Po, a call to the press, a call to Relena, his sister, or any number of various dignitaries, could easily spell the end of Milliardo's career as well as any social place that he had carved out for himself among his peers. Those two things had given Milliardo at least some semblance of peace. If he continued down the road that he was taking, peace could be the last thing that he would get.

"Commander Peacecraft!" Duo called in warning, allowing Milliardo time to identify him before he took hold of Milliardo's uniform jacket and tugged him out of a side door. That door led outside. A few steps to the left, and they were hidden by a long line of box shrubs. Duo turned to Milliardo then and his eyes were happy and shinning.

"What is it?" Milliardo asked, trying to keep his look of annoyance even as the feeling itself melted under the onslaught of Duo's obvious happiness. "I have a meeting with Commander Po to attend."

"I know. I won't keep you," Duo told him quickly. "I just wanted to thank you for the way that you treated Heero. You gave him an honest hearing and you didn't make your decision until you heard him out."

"That's the way a commander is supposed to behave," Milliardo replied. The sun sparkling on Duo's brown hair, giving it cinnamon highlights. His face was glowing, even though he looked tired. He was vibrant, handsome, a bundle of energy. This was the person that Sharp thought was beneath him. This was the person that people like Sharp thought was an embarrassment to show in public; someone to hide away, use and discard. This was the person they wanted him to give up. If he didn't, Sharp was very likely going to drag Milliardo's name through the gossip mills.

"Mil?" Duo prompted, less formal now that there was small chance of anyone seeing or hearing them. "Are you just going to stare? You're not mad, are you? I know I was pretty damned rude last night, but Heero-"

"Shh!" Milliardo made a small quieting gesture with his hand and Duo blinked, surprised. That hand lowered to smooth along Duo's hair and then his cheek. Duo's pale skin blushed and he looked nervous, not sure what Milliardo was wanting or thinking. Milliardo leaned close and softly brushed Duo's lips with his. He whispered against them, 'When they told him to take the road to Heaven, he took the high road to Hell instead.' and then he was drinking in Duo's lips with his own, not really sure of his reception, especially after their sharp words the day before.

Duo responded. He pressed forward and his mouth opened to let Milliardo plunder it with his tongue. They stood like that, letting their tongues probe deep and caress each other, letting them take the step that they themselves were not yet ready for. Duo's hands raised and gripped Milliardo's waist. His pelvis dipped forward and Milliardo felt a hardness caress him below the belt through the material of their clothing.

It was a shock. Milliardo felt a shiver travel through his body at the feel of what could only be one thing. When he broke the kiss and looked down into Duo's violet eyes, battling with an urge to do more than just touch, Duo said, "Maybe they didn't really know the way to Heaven and he did?"

"You're not at all what I expected," Milliardo said softly. His hand lifted to caress Duo's cheek and Duo looked unsure. Milliardo clarified. "I don't give my affections lightly. I'm very aware that I am not like everyone else, free to do as I please without there being consequences. I have a command position. I have a duty not to generate embarrassment for my sister, Relena. When I first saw you, I made a superficial judgment that was completely in error. When the facts of the matter mounted, informing me that I was wrong in my assumptions, I fought against that truth... I fought against it, because..." Milliardo couldn't think, not with Duo's hardness planted against him and Duo looking up at him, trying to understand.

Milliardo purposefully put an inch of space between them, but his hands lowered to gently hold onto the lapels of Duo's uniform jacket so that he wouldn't think that it was a rejection. Milliardo continued, "I knew that I was having feelings for you and I wasn't sure that those feelings were appropriate for someone like me."

Duo's puzzled look sharply turned into anger. Strong hands gripped Milliardo's hands and Duo looked as if he were prepared to throw them off as he replied hotly, "Not sure you wanted to mingle with L2 street trash? What changed your mind?"

Milliardo caressed Duo's hands and then took them and pulled so that Duo's arms were around his waist. He pressed them there and admitted, "Someone said something to me and it was ugly. When I realized that I had been thinking the exact same kind of ugliness, that I was guilty of..." Milliardo couldn't say it, couldn't go that far and admit that he had been thinking of Duo as a liability, an embarrassment , less than his position and his birth and therefore someone to be restricted or avoided all together. "I can't be free to do everything that I want to do where this relationship is concerned," Milliardo told Duo. "I need to be honorable and beyond reproach. In public, we must be reserved and aware at all times that eyes, camera lenses, and people with a vendetta against me and my sister, could be watching us."

Duo blinked and pulled his arms away from Milliardo. "Let me get this straight," he said with a tight, dangerous smile. "You're telling me that you're ready to try for a relationship, but that we have to have to act, in public, like we don't have one? How is this any sort of 'awakening' on your part? I mean, if this person who talked to you made you realize that you were wrong, but you still want to keep me in your closet with your shiny boots, then I'm not sure what 'wrong' you're talking about."

Milliardo replied, feeling that he was treading on land mines and not sure of the right path through them to safety. "I discovered that it was wrong to not pursue a relationship because of my position and the responsibilities that I have. I realized that I was insulting you by thinking that way." It was the best that Milliardo could do. Telling Duo that their positions of birth and class had been on his mind as well, wouldn't get him to safety, he felt, so he was determined not to admit to such thoughts.

Duo stepped back and Milliardo flushed when Duo backed all the way out of the cover of the shrubs, drew himself up where anyone could see, and then held out a hand to Milliardo. His eyes were hopeful, but ready for pain, as he said, "If what you want from me is honest, and you really do care about me, then stand where everyone can see you, where everyone can see us, and let me and everyone else know it."

Milliardo stared at the hand, looked at Duo's handsome face, felt the leap in his heart that begged him to close the space between them. Hadn't he already said, 'Damn them all!' when he had punched Smart? Couldn't he take that hand held out to him and have a relationship like any other man where everyone could see? That they were two men wasn't so much of a scandal. It was their positions in rank and their positions in life that could dictate the course of the accusations and insults thrown at them.

"I won't shame you," Duo said with intensity. "I won't make people laugh at us or give them fuel to ridicule you for your choice." When Milliardo still didn't move, Duo said flatly, beginning to lower his hand, "I won't play your game, because, if you can't do this, then that's all it ever was."

Milliardo was suddenly there and taking Duo's hand, lifting it to his lips and kissing the calloused palm hard. Duo's eyes had widened at the suddenness of it, but then he was smiling softly and his free hand was lifting to Milliardo's collar. Taking a tight hold, he pulled Milliardo down to his level and his amethyst eyes shone into Milliardo's eyes. He took his other hand back from Milliardo's kiss and gave Milliardo a quick, painless, slap on the cheek.

Milliardo grunted and straightened in surprise, touching his cheek in confusion. "That's for running me through the wringer again," Duo said. "You gotta stop that, Mil. Make up your mind and keep it made up, okay?"

Milliardo blinked and then laughed. "How do you do that?" he asked when he had quieted. "How do you make me feel..."

Duo looked serious and said, "I can't MAKE you, Mil, you either feel something or you don't."

Milliardo refused to look around them, refused to see if judging eyes were watching. He wanted Duo to be sure of him. He wanted to be sure of himself. Milliardo reached out, gently took hold of Duo, and then pulled him close. Body to body, he felt Duo's hard lines mold against his. Milliardo was a tall man and Duo was slightly below average, but they unexpectedly fit and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to hold him. Duo wasn't submissive. That wasn't the kind of man that Milliardo wanted. Duo was strong and his grip on Milliardo was just as firm, just as in control of the embrace. It was almost painful to finally break it and step back.

"I have a meeting," Milliardo said reluctantly.

"Duty calls," Duo agreed huskily. "I guess I'll catch you later."

Milliardo chuckled and said as he began walking away. "Haven't you already caught me?"

[part 13] [part 15] [back to Kracken's fic]