Princes and Soldiers series + Part 18 (cont)
Duty Calls

+

Milliardo did something that he never thought that he would do again, he opened his eyes. They were sore, and dry, and the light bothered them. He blinked and tried to focus. White predominated everything and then a face came into his view. A light was shone in his eyes. THAT was not what he needed just then. He squinted and turned his face away.

"He's coming around," a male voice said. "Contusions on his back. Shrapnel, but nothing in vital areas. He'll survive. I would really like to know why one of the Preventer's premier commanders was pulling a stunt like that in the field. I'm sure there will be questions. I should copy my medical report in quadruplicate. The officers will all want their own copy."

A female voice wondered, "Is quadruplicate a word, Dr.?"

"When it comes to bureaucratic paperwork, it is," the Dr. replied. Milliardo felt the cold touch of hands feeling along a very sore place on his arm. "Plasti-seal is working nicely." The face leaned into his view again. "Are you alert, sir? Can you understand me?"

Milliardo nodded shakily and then asked the first thing on his mind. "Agents... Yuy.... Maxwell..." His mouth was as dry as a bone and his vocal chords didn't want to function.

"Both alive," the doctor assured him and Milliardo felt a relief so sharp that it was painful. "Maxwell has a knife wound along his side, but it's a cut across his ribcage and not into his lung. He received a transfusion due to blood loss, and he seems to have taken a beating on his upper body. His collar bone is cracked and his right shoulder had to be placed back into its socket. He has a welding torch burn on his neck, cuts to his hands, a broken index finger on his left hand, and minor shrapnel wounds all over his back. He is awake, now, and making loud demands for his release."

"Yuy?" Milliardo prompted.

"He has the lightest injuries," the doctor informed him, "but he is unconscious as of yet, due to a concussion and severe physical distress. I've seen it before when someone pushes themselves to the limit. All of their reserves are depleted and they simply collapse. From the way his muscles are twitching with spasm, I'll hazard an early diagnosis and tell you that he has probably strained most of the muscles in his body. He should be placed on muscle relaxants and pain medication for several days."

"Casualties?" Milliardo asked then, turning to his other major concern.

"Three," the Dr. replied and said their names and cause of death for each one.

Milliardo felt a pain at every name and then listened intently to how they had died. His mind wasn't at a hundred percent, but he thought that none of his decisions had caused those deaths and, though he was deeply saddened by them, he couldn't help a sense of relief as well.

"Get the hell out of our way!" Duo's voice snarled.

"I strongly suggest that you not interfere!" Heero's voice said closely on the heels of that and then both men came into the room, Heero in a motorized wheel chair and Duo leaning on it and using it to help him walk. Three male nurses were trailing after them along with a security guard, though the man was looking confused, probably wondering how dangerous two injured men could be.

The doctor raised an eyebrow, but seemed used to the idiocies of soldiers. "I wasn't aware that is was visiting hours, gentlemen."

"Special case," Duo quipped back and winked dangerously. "I suggest that you wait outside that door for a bit. We'll call you when we're done."

"There are laws against threatening civilians," Milliardo said roughly. Duo snagged a water bottle from a table and handed it to Milliardo. Milliardo sipped at the straw gratefully and then said, clearer, "You will cease your actions, now, and put yourselves on report."

"Yes, sir," Duo replied as he sat on the edge of Milliardo's bed wearily, "but not before I've made sure that my commander is all right." He leaned forward and kissed Milliardo softly on the lips. There was a hint of uncertainty to it, but Milliardo returned the kiss, a little constrained and embarrassed by Heero's presence, and then looked at Duo's happy face seriously.

"Your report should make interesting reading, Agent Maxwell," Milliardo said. "I do hope that all of your actions were justified?"

"They were, but we can go over all of that later," Duo admonished him. "Doc said that you were okay, but are you, really?"

"Why would he lie?" Milliardo wondered and then relented when he saw Duo's frustration. "I feel all right. "

Duo looked relieved then and looked back at Heero. Heero looked pale, weak, but determined. "Good," Duo said, "'cuz we're making a jail break and getting out of here. Want to come along? That is, if you can move under your own power? I don't think I can help you out if you can't." His dislocated shoulder was strapped and so was his broken finger. Bandages peppered his very pale skin everywhere.

Milliardo almost argued, almost ordered them back to their beds, but something stopped him, a sense that his orders were going to be ignored. He could have become angry about that, called for security, and forced them to comply for their own good, but, instead, he thought of the long days he himself would be confined to the hospital until doctors deemed him well enough to leave. He thought of bland hospital food, uncomfortable beds, and invasive routines. Milliardo felt a wash of rebellion flow through him, an urge to cast away all restraint and join those mad men. Something stopped him before he could utter an agreement, though, a sense of duty and what was proper grinding that rebellion to a halt.

Duo saw it and he smiled down into Milliardo's eyes and said, "That's okay, Mil. Don't be sorry for having common sense and going by the book. That's what makes you what you are, the guy I love, okay? Don't think you have to be any different."

Milliardo touched Duo's cheek, stroked it, and replied, "I don't think that and I'm not sorry for following the rules. You and Heero are on report, love of mine."

Duo sighed and rolled his eyes as if he were a disappointed child, but the smile hadn't left his lips. "That's two reports on us, Heero. We're going to have to come up with some fancy explanations to clear our good names."

"Why do I imagine that you will?" Milliardo replied sourly.

"See, Heero?" Duo chuckled. "He has faith in us."

Milliardo gripped Duo's arm suddenly, all amusement fading. "Duo, I...." He thought about almost losing him and it made his heart constrict painfully. Duo leaned close and looked into Milliardo's eyes, his amusement fading as well.

"It's all right, love," Duo said fiercely and leaned forward to press his face against Milliardo's, kissing him several times. "We made it. We're all safe. If you want... maybe I should stay here with you?"

Milliardo didn't misunderstand how difficult the offer was for Duo. Duo was willing to stay in a place that he feared and hated, among strangers that he didn't trust, for him. Duo's aversion to hospitals and doctors, born after that attack long ago, after being reluctantly treated by uncaring doctors who had wanted him dead, was well know to Milliardo. That Duo offered, told him how deeply Duo cared for him.

Heero sounded like the soldier he was as he offered, as if they were in enemy territory, "I will stay and guard the both of you, if Duo remains."

The offer was ridiculous. Milliardo could see that Heero was almost done in by simply sitting in his wheelchair. It made him consider the man, consider the relationship that Heero had with Duo; something that he hadn't wanted to face. This man wasn't going to go away because he, Milliardo, was having a relationship now with Duo, and, Milliardo discovered, he didn't really want Heero to go away. They had bonded on that mission, found common ground, and had worked together to save the person that they both loved. If they could do that, if they could trust their lives to each other, and trust each other to save Duo's life, then couldn't they also trust each other enough to share Duo's affections? Those affections were different, after all. Heero was Duo's friend and Milliardo was Duo's lover. As Duo had said several times, Heero and Milliardo were not competing with each other. What he wanted to give each of them was completely different.

"What are you thinking about so hard?" Duo wondered, amused, but a little worried too by Milliardo's silence.

"That you don't have to stay," Milliardo replied thoughtfully, "and..."

"And?" Duo prompted.

"That I need to look into buying a house with a set of separate living quarters," Milliardo finished.

Duo looked confused now, as if he wondered if Milliardo were hallucinating and whether he needing to call his doctor or not. "Why....?"

"You wouldn't want Heero to sleep on the couch when you move in with me, would you?" Milliardo replied, faking crossness. He covered up his embarrassed and fear of rejection by trying to get comfortable on the hard mattress of the bed and allowing his real pain and weariness to show.

"I am capable of living on my own," Heero spoke up surprisingly. "Your offer is generous, but not necessary, sir." It was very obvious that what he was saying was not what he wanted. Heero's voice was strained, as if he were forcing himself to say the words.

Duo said, and Milliardo could hear his fear, the fear that came from numerous rejections due to his closeness with Heero, "I know it's strange, and that it's hard to understand, but, I need Heero with me. He's my friend. I know he feels the same way."

"I understand," Milliardo replied and took Duo's good hand in his, ceasing trying to cover up his emotions so that he could reassure Duo. "There isn't anyone else like us. We are all Gundam pilots. We all came through a terrible war. No one will ever understand us as we understand each other. You and Heero came together under intense circumstances and you learned to depend on each other. I'm not going to force you to do other wise now. You accept me for the way that I am, I will not do any less when it comes to you, Duo." He smiled. "Besides, I grew up in a house filled with servants, guards, and aristocracy. After that, I spent time exclusively in the company of soldiers and the barracks. Why living with one man, beside the one that I care about, disturb me?"

Duo thought about that and then visibly relaxed and looked so happy that his eyes seemed to glow. Milliardo thought that he would have agreed to live with a thousand men just to keep that _expression on Duo's face.

Milliardo looked past Duo to Heero. "If you are going to your home to recover, I leave Duo's welfare in your hands, Yuy, and I trust, that if he becomes worse, instead of better, that you will return to the hospital."

"Yes, sir," Heero replied promptly.

"Mil," Mil corrected him and Heero blinked. "If you're going to be living with me, you need to learn to be less formal."

"Yes, si- Mil," Heero corrected himself and a small smile played on his lips. "Thank you."

Milliardo was going to reply, but his lips were suddenly covered by Duo's and Duo was kissing him deeply, unmindful of his injured lips. Duo was smiling, that happy glow even more intense. "Jeez, I love you!" Duo exclaimed around the kiss. "You just seem too damned good to be true!"

Milliardo felt a powerful emotion take hold of him. He slid arms around Duo, careful of his injuries, and Duo pressed against him in a masculine, one armed hug. "You snuck into my soul, Duo, " Milliardo whispered lovingly into his ear, "When I was least expecting it. I was slow understanding my feelings. You were the last person that I expected to fall in love with."

"Thought you'd go for some stuffy politician's son, right?" Duo chuckled against his throat. "Tea at twelve, the formal dinner party at six, and all that? If you ask me, that sort of things sounds a lot more unlikely for someone like you. You just didn't know yourself. I had to come along and shake you out of your cobwebs."

"When I thought we were dead, when those bombs exploded..." Milliardo swallowed hard. "I used more colorful language than you did to myself for dragging my feet for so long about this." He smoothed a hand over Duo's hair, over his cheek, and then curled it around Duo's hand. "I'm not going to risk having to regret again. I'm not going to drag my feet any more. I want you with me, at my side, Duo Maxwell, every part of you, even though I know one of those parts is Heero Yuy. We proved that we can be a team, that we are even somewhat alike in what we want and our methods." Milliardo looked past Duo and smiled as Heero nodded gravely. "I know that I can accept him into our life together."

Duo snickered and sat up, looking at Milliardo mischievously, but his heart was in his eyes when he said, "Heero does have a life, ya know, Mil? He's not like my Siamese twin, or anything. I've spent time getting him out of that military shell and into normal life. Because of me, he attends clubs, talks to people, does needlepoint..."

"Needlepoint?" Milliardo echoed, confused.

Duo laughed, "Just kidding!"

"That's not very funny," Heero grumbled and then said, "What he's trying to say, is that I'm not going to be sleeping at your feet, Mil, or guarding your door twenty four-seven, but there is something that Duo and I have found in each other, a friendship and an understanding that we never want to lose. We trust each other implicitly. I don't think we could ever find that with someone else. Being apart for long is not something that I wish to contemplate."

"Me either," Duo said seriously, never taking his eyes from Milliardo.

Milliardo knew what Duo wanted. He wanted to be certain that Milliardo wasn't accepting a bad deal simply to have him. Milliardo squeezed Duo's hand and said, with all the feeling he felt for Duo in his voice, "When princes fall in love with soldiers, than what does the rest of conventionality matter?"

Milliardo had only thought that Duo glowed before. Now, Duo was blazing like the sun, his eyes dancing with love and delight. When his lips seized Milliardo's and Duo kissed him as if he wanted to pull Milliardo into his soul, Milliardo knew that he would never regret his decision.

[part 17] [back] [epilogue] [back to Kracken's fic]