By: Kracken
Disclaimer: I don't own them and I don't make any money off of this.
Warnings: Male/male sex, violence, language, Graphic
Thanks to Emma for her help with the climbing scenes. ^_^

Princes and Soldiers series + Part 3
My Enemy, My Friend

Duo Maxwell was a genius. Milliardo stared at the man's paperwork. It was written in a crazy scrawl, erased, crossed out, smudged, and with doodles in the margins, but every question was correctly answered.

Milliardo rubbed at his chin and sighed long and loudly as he put the paperwork aside. He stared at the empty desk in front of him for some time before a feminine cough startled him into looking up. Ice blue eyes narrowed at Sally Po.

"You can see why we keep him on the force, can't you?" She asked with a barely concealed air of satisfaction. "He's trouble with a capitol T, but he knows his stuff."

"That's apparent," Milliardo replied in an irritated tone, "but he's still a wild card until I see him in an actual combat assignment. Before that happens, I want to make absolutely certain that his penchant for being a clown doesn't get an agent killed. I need to know that I can trust him to be a professional when it counts. He hasn't shown me that so far."

"So you aren't rejecting him yet?" Sally asked crossing arms over her breast and looking at Milliardo seriously.

"No, I'd be a fool to ignore his abilities. They are impressive," Milliardo conceded. "But that's not why I asked you here."

"Oh?" Sally raised an eyebrow. She hadn't liked being summoned to Milliardo's office. He sometimes forgot that he wasn't a general and second only to Treize. "Is there another problem?"

Milliardo handed the photo of Duo to Sally. "I don't like mysteries where my men are concerned. I want to know why Maxwell was in a facility like that one."

Milliardo hadn't named it, wanting to see whether Sally knew what he was talking about. She did. She looked down at the photo and frowned. "He was attacked by Oz soldiers," Sally explained. "The details are sealed because of his age, but I do know that the attack was brutal. He fought back and there were some deaths. At the time, the government was over zealous in incarcerating people who weren't willing to embrace peace. It didn't matter who was attacked or who the attackers were. All of them were sent to the facility."

"And Yuy?" Milliardo wondered, trying to imagine someone as young as Duo being incarcerated with bitter, violent soldiers. His expression in the photo was becoming understandable.

"Yuy wasn't in trouble, but he refused to leave Duo's side," Sally explained. "They tried to separate them; drug Heero, put Duo in lock up, put Heero in lock up, but, no matter what they did, the two would manage to get back together. Duo was incarcerated for six months and Yuy managed to stay with him for most of that time." She handed the photo back to Milliardo. "I had been keeping my eye on them. I hadn't needed Quatre Winner throwing his weight and money around to get them released. I took it on my self to offer them jobs and assistance in becoming good citizens. It wasn't easy convincing the government, but I did it. It's worked out well. They are the best at what they do."

Milliardo saw the two in his mind's eye, just as they had been on the course; living in the violent detention center back to back, guarding each other, working in tandem to keep themselves safe. "Where was Yuy when Duo was attacked?"

Sally looked uncomfortable, "With Relena, your sister. He felt bound to protect her and he became her guard. She wouldn't allow Duo to join him, so he was on guard detail when Duo was attacked. I don't think he ever forgave himself, or your sister, for not being there to protect Duo. He left her service shortly after."

"They must be lovers." Milliardo whispered, wishing that he could keep his first impression that they weren't, but knowing that there wasn't any other way to explain their devotion to one another. Milliardo felt a pain in his heart and he unconsciously rubbed the spot.

Sally didn't look convinced. "I've never seen them kiss, hold hands, or even stand too close to one another. " She looked thoughtful. "It's more like a big brother looking after a little brother."

"Yuy feels responsible for Maxwell?" Milliardo asked, puzzled, "Why? Does he feel that Maxwell can't handle things by himself?"

Sally quirked a smile. "More like Duo's the big brother, actually. He looks after Heero as if Heero couldn't tie his own shoe laces without him. Heero is a very honorable, dutiful, exact, and skilled young man, but he lacks the spark that tells a man to relax, that there's something else besides duty and work, and that he should have a life and live it. I often wonder, if he didn't have Duo, if Heero would find a corner and stand there like a deactivated machine, until someone needed him for a task. Heero is very attached to Duo and it isn't in a needy way. They have a bond that I don't think I can explain with just a sexual relationship."

Milliardo stifled a sigh of impatience. He didn't want Sally's spin on things. He wanted a black and white answer, either or, yes or no. Were Heero and Duo lovers? Most likely from the data Milliardo had on them so far, and devoted lovers as well. Again Milliardo felt that pain in his heart and again he rubbed at it.

"Than you Commander Po," Milliardo said as he picked up the photo. "You've answered some very important questions and given me the insight that I need to make good decisions where the assignment is concerned."

"Glad that I could help," Sally replied and she began to leave. She paused at the door and looked back at the long haired Peacecraft prince. He was staring at the photo of Duo and one finger had risen to touch the image of the ex pilot of Deathscythe. Sally was startled and then she smiled knowingly. You got it bad, Zechs. Too bad for you, she thought sadly and wasn't surprised that Milliardo didn't notice her departure.

After a long while, Milliardo left his office for the day and made his way to the officer's gym, feeling depressed and irritable. He tried to brush those feelings aside and tell himself that there wasn't any reason to feel those things. He needed to treat his bizarre infatuation with Maxwell as a product of boredom and dissatisfaction with his current position. Milliardo WAS bored, he had to admit, and frustrated with the levels of bureaucracy he had to deal with. Maxwell was a diversion, nothing more than that, something for his mind to grab onto and distract himself with.

Milliardo removed his uniform in the locker room. He slipped into a pair of black spandex and a red tank top and then bound back his hair in a long, white pony tail. After putting on climbing shoes, and clipping his cell phone onto the back of his pants, Milliardo went out into the deserted exercise room and stood before the climbing wall. It was late, half of the lights were out, and all the instructors were gone. Alone, and knowing all the rules against exercising alone, Milliardo began to climb. He should have at least put on a anti grav belt just in case, but that would have negated the purpose of the climb.

It was an adrenalin rush, a bit of the old danger that he missed so much from the war, and a space of time where he could concentrate on just staying on that hard wall and living from moment to moment. He didn't have to think about his men, his job, his duty, and the endless paperwork and decisions. He just needed to climb and feel where the next handhold was.

Milliardo decided to ignore two small ledges where he could have rested, pushing himself despite his trembling leg muscles and his labored breathing. He imagined himself on an Oz mission, in danger of discovery, his life forfeit if that happened. His goal was the top and he envisioned an insurgent camp and a spy mission to accomplish. Milliardo felt a rush of excitement.

Disaster struck without warning. Milliardo thought that his footing was secure as he reached up for a handhold. He was sweating heavily from exertion and unknown to him, he had left some of that sweat on his foothold. As he put weight on it, he felt his foot slide. Still reaching for his handhold, Milliardo swung sharply sideways and desperately tried to hold on with his one secure hand as his other foot left the wall. His size had always worked against him when he had climbed. It had kept him from utilizing all the holds and from using the limber moves the sport required. That handicap worked against Milliardo in the worst way at that moment. His own body's size and momentum peeled him off the wall and Milliardo's one hand didn't have the strength to hold him as his shoulder twisted painfully and his side scraped itself raw on the rough surface of the wall.

Milliardo fell and there was nothing he could do about it. Several things ran through his mind, all of them regrets, before his body slammed into something hard and the world dimmed.

"Hey, uhm, Mill... uhm, sir?"

Milliardo opened his eyes to bright light and searing pain in his ribs, right arm, and right leg. A face was hovering very close. Milliardo blinked in confusion. Two eyes peered down at him, overly large like a child's, and an amazing shade of purple.

"D-Duo...? Maxwell?" Milliardo mumbled in confusion. "What...?"

"Rule number one," Duo said seriously, "never exercise alone, especially when you're climbing a concrete wall without any ropes." He grinned suddenly. "Don't worry, I won't squeal on you. I never follow that rule either."

Milliardo remembered then. He tried to sit up, but a surprisingly strong hand held him down. "I don't think so," Duo told him. "You need to hold still until the medics get here. You're balanced on a little ledge. Good thing for you that they made this like a natural rock and not straight up and down like most climbs. Still, why you didn't fall off... well, you're one hell of a lucky man... sir."

"Ledge," Milliardo echoed in confusion and then understood. The ledge had broken his fall and saved him from a possibly fatal plunge to the floor of the gym. He shivered, remembering how narrow those ledges were, meant to be obstacles to climb over and not actual platforms wide enough for bodies. He focused on Duo again. He felt calloused fingers brush his pale hair from his face. Duo looked worried. "How bad is it?" Milliardo wondered, his voice rough.

"Don't know, "Duo replied truthfully. "You're talking and moving, so you can't be too bad. Scrapes, mostly, maybe, and a hit on the head for sure."

Milliardo frowned, the pain radiating throughout his body making him doubt Duo's assessment. A mystery was presenting itself to him and he ignored his body and forced his mind to focus enough to ask, "How did you... What are you doing here? How did you know?"

Duo waved Milliardo's cell phone where he could see it. "You have all of us on your cell phone dialer so that you can talk to us in the field, I suppose," Duo replied. "You landed on my number when you fell. It kept dialing it. I was pretty pissed. I was in the middle of things, if you know what I mean? I had the number traced, intending to smash who ever it was's face, and found out it was you. Didn't take long after that to check the satellite and pinpoint your location."

"In the middle of things?" Milliardo wondered and then swore at himself. His aching head attested to a possible concussion. It was disorienting him, making it hard to keep his thoughts to himself.

Duo winked broadly and his grin turned impish. "I think that's my business, sir. If you want a play by play of my personal life then you have to put yourself in the game."

Milliardo wasn't slow witted, but again, he said what he was thinking and he hated himself and the weakness that caused him to shoot back bitterly, "Play the game? Hasn't Yuy already won it?"

Duo frowned sharply, but the frown wasn't directed at Milliardo. Duo's eyes were turned inward, as if he were considering some unpleasant thought, and then he was grinning again and saying cheerily, "This game's never over, Milli. Never."

"They're here!" Yuy's voice called distantly.

Duo patted Milliardo's good shoulder. "Remember, sir, we were climbing together and you fell, okay? That's our story. I'd tell them, but..."

"But?" Milliardo wondered, not understanding.

Duo looked sheepish. "I don't lie," he replied.

Milliardo considered that statement and the man hovering over him, braced precariously and looking as if he were about to fall as he leaned out, keeping hold of the wall, and urged someone below to hurry.

"He looks kind of pale, guys, and his head's bleeding!" Duo called. "He's talking to me like he likes me too, so he's must have had his brains scrambled. He probably has a concussion!"

Duo's braid swung as he moved and brushed across Milliardo's face. He had a moment to smell a scent; Sandalwood? Cinnamon-musk? Vanilla mixed with... then the braid was swinging away as Duo leaned down and squinted at Milliardo's eyes.

"Both of them look like they're dilating," Duo muttered. "Damned this light! I can't hardly see anything."

Duo looked very worried. Milliardo wondered why. Didn't they dislike each other? Weren't they well on their way to even being enemies? Duo should have been glad that Milliardo had taken the fall. Someone else would have to take over the mission now, someone who might laugh at Duo's jokes and tolerate his insubordinate behavior.

"Don't move!" Duo warned, but Milliardo wasn't aware that he had tried to move. He felt a hand grip him hard to hold him in place. That grip was firm and reassuring.

"Someone call for a cab?" A new voice quipped and Milliardo felt hands at his waist.

"Anti grav stretcher?" Duo sounded unsure. "That's a long way down, guys."

"Maxwell! You've been at our tender mercies enough times to know that WE know what we're doing. Stop hovering and get yourself down. We'll take care of the Handsome Prince."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Duo growled.

"Well, Rapunzel," Another voice joked. "If you're going to let down your hair for a prince, try to do it with ropes next time, just in case."

Duo shot back. "He's my commanding officer, guys! Can it!"

"Care to explain what you were doing here after hours, then?" The second man asked.

There was a long silence. Duo wasn't going to lie, just as he had said, Milliardo realized. As Milliardo felt himself lifted, presumably to be put on the stretcher, the world began to blur and darken. Milliardo knew that he was on the edge of unconsciousness. He owed Duo, he thought dimly. All he could do at that moment was to save the man some embarrassment.

"I-I was teaching him... teaching Maxwell some climbing techniques... for our next... assignment," Milliardo managed.

Milliardo wondered if anyone had heard him and then the first medic replied, suddenly formal, "Yes, sir." Milliardo knew then that they hadn't known that he was awake and aware of what they were saying.

As Milliardo slipped into unconsciousness, he felt Duo's hand squeeze his arm in thanks. That touch warmed a place deep inside Milliardo. "Don't worry about a thing," Duo said almost in his ear and, as if the words had some power, Milliardo felt himself trusting Duo, trusting him enough to let go and fall into the arms of painless oblivion.

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